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The aims of the European Union within its borders are:

  • promote peace, its values and the well-being of its citizens
  • offer freedom, security and justice without internal borders, while also taking appropriate measures at its external borders to regulate asylum and immigration and prevent and combat crime
  • establish an internal market
  • achieve sustainable development based on balanced economic growth and price stability and a highly competitive market economy with full employment and social progress
  • protect and improve the quality of the environment
  • promote scientific and technological progress
  • combat social exclusion and discrimination
  • promote social justice and protection, equality between women and men, and protection of the rights of the child
  • enhance economic, social and territorial cohesion and solidarity among EU countries
  • respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity
  • establish an economic and monetary union whose currency is the euro

The aims of the EU within the wider world are:

  • uphold and promote its values and interests
  • contribute to peace and security and the sustainable development of the Earth
  • contribute to solidarity and mutual respect among peoples, free and fair trade, eradication of poverty and the protection of human rights
  • strict observance of international law

The EU’s aims are laid out in article 3 of the Lisbon Treaty.


The European Union is founded on the following values:

Human dignity
Human dignity is inviolable. It must be respected, protected and constitutes the real basis of fundamental rights.

Freedom of movement gives citizens the right to move and reside freely within the Union. Individual freedoms such as respect for private life, freedom of thought, religion, assembly, expression and information are protected by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The functioning of the EU is founded on representative democracy. A European citizen automatically enjoys political rights. Every adult EU citizen has the right to stand as a candidate and to vote in elections to the European Parliament. EU citizens have the right to stand as a candidate and to vote in their country of residence, or in their country of origin.

Equality is about equal rights for all citizens before the law. The principle of equality between women and men underpins all European policies and is the basis for European integration. It applies in all areas. The principle of equal pay for equal work became part of the Treaty of Rome in 1957.

Rule of law
The EU is based on the rule of law. Everything the EU does is founded on treaties, voluntarily and democratically agreed by its EU countries. Law and justice are upheld by an independent judiciary. The EU countries gave final jurisdiction to the European Court of Justice - its judgments have to be respected by all.

Human rights
Human rights are protected by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. These cover the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, the right to the protection of your personal data, and the right to get access to justice.


The EU’s values are laid out in article 2 of the Lisbon Treaty and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

In 2012, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for advancing the causes of peace, reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.