The old continent is known for having long been divided into the most varied nations with commonalities and differences between them and internally as well. In the post-war period (World II) the first approaches to the Unions began to appear, which are still active today (EU or EFTA, for example). In addition to commercial alliances, the union of countries deepened with the opening of borders and the establishment of the free circulation of goods and people between member states (Schengen) and economic alliances were developed with the creation of a common currency (the Euro).
In this infographic, we want to show the various areas that divide the European continent, such as the Schengen area, EFTA, EU Costums Union, EEA, Eurozone and EU, later on we will explain each one of them in more detail and their countries.
Let’s start with the EU – European Union. The idea of a European Union came after World War II, some people had the idea of uniting a Europe that was torn apart by war, which led to the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community, the signing of the Treaties of Rome and the birth of the European Parliament.
Until the 1990s, which was the founding year of the European Union, we see the end of communism across Europe and an increase in cooperation between countries with various bilateral treaties.
In the 90’s we see a more united Europe, without borders and the single currency is implemented, and to this day we have witnessed an enlargement of the acceding countries, with Croatia being the last to enter the current 27, in 2013.
The idea of the Schengen Area came from the vision of a united Europe without borders, in which borders only exist on maps. This aspect is important for many business areas, it facilitates exports, the relationship between countries improves, and there is greater cooperation between all the surrounding countries.
The Schengen Area, despite being often confused, does not include the same countries as the European Union. Thus it includes some EU countries, EFTA countries and a micro state, namely: Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
EFTA is the European Free Trade Association and consists in that its members are not subject to customs duties when they export any product from member countries, which serves to increase trade in these countries. From here came the European Economic Area that was previously called the European Economic Community, we will talk about the European Economic Area below.
Among the founding European countries are Portugal, Sweden, United Kingdom, Denmark and Austria, later joined by Finland.
The EFTA is currently made up of four non-EU countries that are part of the Schengen area: Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland.
As stated in the previous paragraph, the EEA (European Economic Area) aims to expand the internal market to all countries of the European Union and to the EFTA countries, which are not part of the EU, until in the future they decide to join the EU.
An important note is that Switzerland is the only EFTA country not to be part of the agreement with the European Economic Area, but on the other hand it has more than 120 bilateral agreements with the EU
The EUCU aims to facilitate commercial activities by European companies on goods that come from outside the EU to help protect citizens, animals and the environment. The countries all work together as one, applying the same rights to everything that is imported from the rest of the world.
As far as the European Union is concerned, all countries that are part of the EU do not pay customs fees among themselves.
The Eurozone corresponds to countries that share the same currency: the Euro. This group includes exclusively EU countries, with some micro-states also coining and using the Euro, namely Andorra, San Marino, Monaco and the Vatican.
Initially 11 countries were part of the eurozone, but today 19 are part, with the inclusion of countries such as Greece, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
All countries are linked to the European Central Bank which regulates with a single monetary policy to maintain currency stability, and each country has a national central bank.