The continent of Europe consists of more than 40 nation states of very different sizes. Up until a quarter of a century ago Europe was split in two different types of societies. In eastern, east central, and southeastern Europe, societies were organized according to socialist principles under the domination of the Soviet Union. Most of northern, western, and southern Europe by and large adopted the model of liberal democracy and market economies. The western portion of the continent developed, growing supranational institutions after World War II, which needed the transferal of decision competencies from the nation states to a European level for proper functioning. The European Union (EU) is by far the most important of them.

After the collapse of the socialist systems and the end ...

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