The global economic crisis strikes hard in Europe. The EU helps several countries to confront their difficulties and establishes the 'Banking Union' to create a safer and more reliable banking sector. In 2012, the European Union is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Croatia becomes the 28th member of the EU in 2013. Climate change is still high on the agenda and leaders agree to reduce harmful emissions. European elections are held in 2014 and more Eurosceptics are elected to the European Parliament. A new security policy is established in the wake of the annexation of Crimea by Russia. Religious extremism increases in the Middle East and various countries and regions around the world, leading to unrest and wars which result in many people fleeing their homes and seeking refuge in Europe. The EU is not only faced with the dilemma of how to take care of them, but also finds itself the target of several terrorist attacks.
Following the economic crisis that began in 2008, several countries encounter problems with the public finances. The 16 euro area countries back a plan to help them deal with their deficits.
Pro-democracy protests erupt in Syria. After security forces open fire on demonstrators, violence escalates and rebel brigades are formed to confront the state security forces. A civil war begins in Syria which will dominate world politics for many years to come.
The launch of the first two Galileo satellites brings the EU one step closer to having its own satellite navigation system. Galileo will help improve transport, rescue services, banking transactions and electricity provision.
The European Citizens' Initiative becomes operational, giving citizens the direct possibility to propose the creation of a law to the European Commission.
The EU is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for over six decades [having] contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe".
The phasing-out period for testing cosmetic products on animals ends, meaning that cosmetics tested on animals can no longer be marketed in the EU.
Croatia joins the EU, becoming its 28th member.
Member States: Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Ireland, United Kingdom, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania
New Member State: Croatia.
Candidate countries and potential candidates: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Turkey.
The President of Ukraine is ousted by its Parliament following several months of popular protest and unrest. The country's relationship with the EU and Russia is at the heart of a long period of uncertainty. Crimea, a part of Ukraine, is illegally annexed by Russia, an action condemned by the EU.
The European Parliament elects Jean-Claude Juncker as the President of the European Commission, following the European elections in May.
EU leaders pledge €1 billion towards fighting the spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa, particularly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. It is the largest and most complex outbreak since Ebola was first observed in 1976. By the end of 2015 the virus is virtually eradicated in these countries.
The Commission announces a €315 billion investment plan with a view to creating up to 1.3 million new jobs.
Greece is the EU country worst hit by the economic crisis. Discussions on reforms in the country and support from the EU lead to a new deal.
130 people are killed in a terrorist attack in Paris. Shortly afterwards, EU ministers agree on tougher border security measures around the passport-free Schengen zone.
By the end of 2015, around one million asylum seekers have arrived in Europe during the year, many fleeing civil war in Syria and in need of international protection. EU leaders step up efforts to strengthen external border controls and reduce the number of asylum seekers by cooperating with neighbouring states such as Turkey.
At a climate conference in Paris, 195 countries agree to limit the global temperature increase to less than 2°C.