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EU

European Union (EU), international organization comprising 28 European countries and governing common economic, social, and security policies. Originally confined to western Europe, the EU undertook a robust expansion into central and eastern Europe in the early 21st century.

Its purpose is to be more competitive in the global marketplace. At the same time, it must balance the needs of its independent fiscal and political members.

The euro is the common currency for the EU area. It is the second most commonly held currency in the world, after the U.S. dollar. It replaced the Italian lira, the French franc, and the German deutschmark, among others.