The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union, which operates via a system of supranational institutions and intergovernmental decisions made by the Member States. With the establishment of the European Union, member states have sacrificed some of their sovereignty by transferring decision-making and legislative powers in certain areas to the collective authority of the EU. The philosophy behind forming the European Union was the integration of the European market, the strengthening of the European region, economic prosperity, an empowered position of EU Member States in global affairs and prevention of war and conflict.
As of 2013, the European Union is comprised of 28 independent sovereign nations, with the latest addition being Croatia. The following figure provides an overview of all current EU member states.