The euro is now the new currency for many Europeans. During the decade more and more countries adopt the euro. 11 September 2001 becomes synonymous with the 'War on Terror' after hijacked airliners are flown into buildings in New York and Washington. EU countries begin to work much more closely together to fight crime. The political divisions between east and west Europe are finally declared healed when no fewer than 10 new countries join the EU in 2004, followed by Bulgaria and Romania in 2007. A financial crisis hits the global economy in September 2008. The Treaty of Lisbon is ratified by all EU countries before entering into force in 2009. It provides the EU with modern institutions and more efficient working methods.
Hijacked airliners are flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon building in Washington. Nearly 3 000 people die. The EU countries stand firmly alongside the United States in the fight against international terror.
Euro notes and coins become the legal currency in 12 EU countries. Printing, minting and distributing them is a major logistical operation. More than 80 billion coins are involved. Notes are the same for all countries. Coins have one common face, giving the value, while the other carries a national emblem. All circulate freely. Using Finnish (or any other) euro coin to buy a Madrid metro ticket is something we soon take for granted.
The communications revolution continues. Many schools and homes now have high-speed access to the Internet. Text messages are the favourite way for people to stay in touch with each other. Later in the decade, people begin to communicate widely through social media, and to use smartphones.
As part of its foreign and security policy, the EU takes on peacekeeping operations in the Balkans, firstly in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and then in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In both cases, EU-led forces replace NATO units. Internally, the EU agrees to create an area of freedom, security and justice for all citizens by 2010.
Eight countries of central and eastern Europe — the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia— join the EU, finally ending the division of Europe decided by the 'Great Powers' 60 years earlier at the Yalta Conference in the Crimea. Cyprus and Malta also become members.
Member States: Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Ireland, United Kingdom, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Finland and Sweden.
New Member States: Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia.
Candidate Countries: Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey.
The 25 EU countries sign a Treaty establishing a 'European constitution'. It is designed to streamline democratic decision-making and management in an EU of 25 and more countries. When voters in France and the Netherlands reject the constitution in June 2005, EU leaders declare a ‘period of reflection’.
The Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty to limit global warming and cut emissions of greenhouse gases, comes into force. The EU has consistently taken the lead in efforts to reduce the impact of climate change. The United States is not party to the Protocol.
Two more countries from eastern Europe - Bulgaria and Romania - join the EU, bringing the number of Member States to 27. Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey are also candidates for future membership.
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 and Slovakia.
New Member States: Bulgaria and Romania.
Candidate countries: Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Turkey.
The 27 EU countries sign the Treaty of Lisbon, which amends the previous treaties. It is designed to make the EU more democratic, efficient and transparent, and thereby able to tackle global challenges such as climate change, security and sustainable development. The Treaty of Lisbon is ratified by all EU countries before entering into force on 1 December 2009.
A major financial crisis hits the world economy. The problems start with mortgage loans in the United States. Several European banks also experience difficulties. The crisis leads to closer economic cooperation between EU countries.