Everything that the EU does is based on treaties that contain the rules for how the EU works. These have been agreed voluntarily and democratically by all EU countries.

The EU acts in those areas where the EU countries have authorised it and where it makes sense to act together, like on climate change or trading across the world.

In this chapter, you will find information on what has already been implemented and enacted by the EU (and in Chapter 4 ‘What’s on the EU’s agenda’ you will find information on what is being done to continue this work). Here are just a few of the EU’s achievements so far.

Safe and easy travel

Travelling has temporarily become more difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, under normal circumstances, travelling in Europe is much easier today than it used to be. That’s because most EU countries, and some non-EU countries, have removed border controls between each other. This removal of border controls is thanks to the Schengen Agreement, named after the village in Luxembourg where it was signed by European countries in 1985.

As a European citizen, you can travel without needing a passport within the 26 ‘Schengen countries’: 22 EU countries (Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden) plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania are not currently part of the Schengen area. When travelling to or returning from countries that are outside the Schengen area, you will need to present a valid passport or ID card.


During the coronavirus pandemic, the Re-open EU website and app have provided information on the various restrictions in place, such as national rules on quarantine and testing, to help you plan your journey in Europe (!xr69Ub).

The EU digital COVID certificate became available to all travellers in 2021. It allows EU citizens and residents to have their certificates issued and verified across the EU, with no language or administrative obstacles in another country.


Is your country part of the Schengen area? Have you or a member of your family recently travelled to another EU country? Did you have to go through border controls? In 2020, around 2 million Europeans commuted to another EU country every day for work. What do you think Schengen means to them and to the economy in those areas?

Divide yourselves up into small groups and discuss this with your classmates.

The town of Schengen in Luxembourg, close to Luxembourg’s borders with Germany and France, with signs pointing to the borders with Germany and France.

Everyone travelling through the EU is:

  • protected by a full set of passenger rights when travelling by air, rail, ship, bus or coach (for instance, in certain circumstances they can get compensation if their flight is cancelled);
  • protected when buying package holidays, meaning that the company that sold them the holiday must deal with their complaint (for example if they end up in a substandard hotel);
  • protected if a tour operator or airline goes bust.

You can check your EU passenger rights anytime, anywhere. Simply download the app:!Fk66KJ


When travelling to a country outside the European Union, EU citizens can get help from the consulate or embassy of any other EU country if their home country is not represented.

Health and safety while travelling

If you fall ill or have an accident during a visit to another EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, as an EU citizen you have the right to receive public healthcare under the same conditions and at the same cost as people in the host country. Ask your national healthcare provider for your European Health Insurance Card (!JH73NV) before you go abroad.


The EU, together with the countries that make it up, is the world’s leading donor of humanitarian aid. It provides and coordinates relief assistance to people in areas hit by disasters in Europe and around the globe. This includes assistance following environmental disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and forest fires. In 2021, the rescEU firefighting fleet included planes and helicopters from Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Sweden. The fleet was made available to other EU countries and to neighbouring countries in the event of emergency. The rescEU medical team also acts during health emergencies and during chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents.

For more information about rescEU:!jqmtwn

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European Health Insurance Card!JH73NV

A common currency in 19 EU countries: the euro

Euro banknotes and coins were introduced in 12 EU countries in 2002, and a total of 19 have now replaced their national currencies with the euro. More than 75 % of people in the EU – 340 million of us – use the euro every day.

There are many advantages of using a common currency in a single market where people from different countries trade together. Consumers can compare prices more easily at home, abroad and online. Companies can calculate and charge customers in one currency and are not at risk of exchange rate fluctuations. This keeps prices stable.

Find out more about the euro:!DJ38wd


Euro coins have a common side – used for all coins no matter what euro-area country they were made in – that portrays a map of Europe. However, on the other side, each country has its own design. Do you recognise the symbol on this EUR 2 coin? Can you guess where it comes from?


The table below lists all 27 EU countries. Tick the 19 countries that use the euro as their currency.

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czechia
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden

Study, train, work and volunteer

Thanks to the EU, anyone can take advantage of the freedom of movement between EU countries.

Freedom of movement doesn’t just apply to travel and holidays. It also means you can:

  • train and study anywhere in the EU under the same conditions as nationals;
  • work anywhere in the EU and benefit from the opportunities offered by an EU-wide job market.

Find out more here:!tK96XW


On the EURES website you can find thousands of job announcements from across the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. It also helps employers find candidates from other EU countries to fill their vacancies (

Europass offers an easy-to-use template for your CV along with other tools to communicate your skills to employers across the EU (

The youth guarantee scheme

Many young people do not have certain skills and qualifications that employers are looking for. Thanks to the youth guarantee scheme, the EU can help young people gain new and useful skills. This may be in the form of on-the-job training or individual career guidance.

For more information and to enrol, check with your national contact point:!hD3XR9

Over 24 million young people who registered on youth guarantee schemes have received an offer of employment, continued education, apprenticeships or traineeships since 2014.


Since it was set up in 2013, the European Alliance for Apprenticeships has made available over 900 000 apprenticeships.

For more information see:!DG98WG

Younger children are also supported through the European child guarantee, which is a programme designed for under 18s to fight social exclusion and poverty through education, healthcare, nutrition and housing.

For more information, see

Chapter 4 ‘What’s on the EU’s agenda?’.


You may have already heard about the Erasmus+ programme. This EU initiative helps people to spend a period of time abroad. It is open to young people, students, trainees, teachers and staff working in education, and volunteers from around the world. Students in both university and vocational training can get Erasmus+ financial and organisational support for their stay in 33 countries across Europe and around the world. A European points system ensures that grades earned abroad are credited to your studies at home.

Schools can cooperate with other schools or organisations in other EU countries. Ask your teacher or head teacher to help you check out the opportunities that Erasmus+ provides.

You might also opt for some on-the-job training abroad. Every year, many young Europeans complete part of their apprenticeship in another EU country. The Erasmus+ programme works in partnership with companies and institutions that advertise projects for young people.

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What is Erasmus+?!rFGPhX

Find out more about Erasmus+ opportunities here: You can also listen to the experiences of young people who have taken part in an Erasmus+ youth exchange:

And do check out the dedicated Erasmus+ app:


Since the launch of the first Erasmus programme in 1987, more than 10 million young people have benefited from the opportunities it offers. 10 million more are expected to benefit from the new Erasmus+ between 2021 and 2027. The budget is EUR 28 billion, more than double the sum that was previously allocated to the programme.

The European Solidarity Corps

If you want to make a meaningful contribution to society and show solidarity with your community, then the European Solidarity Corps might be an ideal opportunity. It allows young people aged 18–30 to participate in a wide range of activities, either by volunteering or by taking up a work placement. This could also prove to be a stepping stone into employment for many young people.

Interested? Read more about the European Solidarity Corps here:

Find out about other opportunities for volunteering in the EU here:

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Thanks to the European Union’s DiscoverEU initiative, you could have the chance to explore Europe with a free travel pass. If you are 18 years old and a citizen of an EU Member State, you can apply for one of the free travel passes and explore the EU for up to 1 month.


In the first four rounds of the DiscoverEU programme, around 70 000 young people received a travel pass.

More information about DiscoverEU:


The European Youth Portal is your gateway to everything you need to know to flourish as a young person living in Europe. Alongside information on EU-funded programmes like Erasmus+, the portal also provides news and opportunities on volunteering, employment, education, travelling, environmental issues, sports and culture.

Check it out here:


Can you imagine volunteering abroad or spending part of your studies at a university in another country? In pairs, make a list of four arguments in favour, and four against. Which argument comes out on top? Compare your results with your classmates and discuss them.

Free movement of goods, services and capital

Thanks to the EU’s single market, it is not only people who can move around freely in the EU, but also goods, services and capital. People, goods, services and capital are sometimes referred to as the four ‘pillars’ of free movement in the EU. Remember that ‘capital’ does not only mean ‘money’. It also includes investments and loans. This makes it easier for EU businesses to operate in more than one country, and to compete globally. Whatever their size, companies in the EU have access to the national markets of all EU countries and to around 447 million potential customers. Why does this matter? Greater competition leads to lower prices and a wider choice of products and services for the end consumer – and that’s you!


The Your Europe website offers you practical help and advice about life, work and travel in other EU countries:

Exercise 14 What does free movement mean for you in practice?

Match the examples to the four aspects of the single market (free movement of people, goods, services and capital) and tick the appropriate box.

Examples Free movement of people Free movement of goods Free movement of services Free movement of capital
1. I can buy a second-hand car abroad and take it back home without paying customs duties.
2. I can travel anywhere I like within the EU.
3. I can study in another EU country.
4. My parents can have their bathroom renovated by a tiler from another EU country.
5. My parents can send money to me, without any extra charges, in the country where I am studying.
6. I can work in another EU country.
7. I can buy goods online from another EU country without paying customs duties.

Product and food safety

Throughout the EU, people benefit from high-quality and safe food and goods. The EU has some of the highest food-safety standards in the world. It has put in place compulsory checks throughout the agri-food chain to ensure that plants and animals are healthy, that food and animal feed are safe and that products are correctly labelled.

The EU has also introduced strict safety requirements for a wide range of products, such as toys and electronic appliances. Manufacturers must meet these requirements to sell their products in EU countries. If faulty or dangerous products are being sold across Europe, the EU’s Rapid Alert System makes it easy for national authorities to sound the alarm, share the latest information with each other and keep consumers safe.



EU laws have put strict rules in place for the labelling of food, drinks, cosmetic products and electronic appliances. Some labels help protect consumers, while others let them know about certain characteristics of the product. For example, there are labels to indicate which products are organic or energy efficient. Without proper labelling, a product will not be allowed onto the market.

Do you recognise the labels below? Where can you find them? What do they mean?

An infographic showing the different EU labels that can be found on products bought in the EU.

Find out more about energy with this series of short videos:

Consumer rights

When you go shopping in the EU, you are protected by all sorts of laws. For instance, you have a guarantee of at least 2 years for products bought in the EU. This means that if your mobile phone breaks down after a year, it will have to be repaired or replaced free of charge, irrespective of where in the EU you originally bought it.

More and more of us are shopping online, and EU consumers are now better protected thanks to EU laws that:

Quality telecommunications

Many of us use smartphones and tablets. As an EU citizen, you can:


Thanks to EU rules, you can use your phone without any extra charges while travelling in the EU. Also, you won’t have to miss your favourite music or TV shows, and can stream the same content you’ve subscribed to at home, wherever you are in the EU.

Staying safe online

Anyone who spends time online knows how easy it is to come across inappropriate, misleading or even extremist content on the internet.

To keep us safe, the EU code of conduct fights illegal hate speech online by ensuring that requests to remove racist and xenophobic content are dealt with speedily. The code of practice on disinformation brings together social networks and the advertising industry, which have agreed to a set of commitments covering everything from transparency to fake accounts. Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, YouTube and other online platforms now assess 90 % of flagged content within 24 hours. The European strategy for a better internet for children has set a gold standard for the protection and empowerment of younger children online.

Check out the map to find resources in your country:

Keeping your individual data protected and ensuring your privacy online is also a huge priority and the EU considers these part of your fundamental rights. The general data protection regulation is an EU law which helps enforce this by setting a legal framework for the collection and processing of personal information from individuals who live in the EU.

Are you concerned about fake news? With this toolkit and the help of your teacher, you can discover how to spot and fight disinformation and start conversations about the important topics raised by the threat of bad information. Among these are issues affecting public health, democracy, and the cultural and legal norms underpinning our societies.


Equality and human rights

A range of fundamental rights is guaranteed for everyone living in the EU. Respect for human rights and dignity is enshrined in the treaties and consolidated by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. This prohibits any discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, nationality, language, religion, age or disability.

The EU works hand in hand with Member States to promote respect for others, enforce non-discrimination laws and uphold human rights across the EU and beyond. Human rights considerations are also included in the EU’s international trade agreements with other countries.

However, progress starts at home. So far, the EU has taken wide-ranging action against most major forms of discrimination. For example, action in the area of disability policy ranges from laws (the EU Accessibility Act came into law in 2019) to initiatives promoting accessible cities (the EU access city awards).

Despite such concrete steps, people continue to suffer discriminatory treatment, harassment and abuse across Europe and the world. To combat the various forms of hatred and discrimination, the EU has launched a plan to increase equality.

See more details in Chapter 4 ‘What’s on the EU’s agenda?’.

Work–life balance and quality of life

The EU is committed to creating a fairer, more socially just society, and a big part of that is ensuring a balance between our lives at work and our lives away from work. In 2019, new EU rules came into force to improve working life for parents and carers. The rules aim to encourage a more equal sharing of parental leave, introduce carers’ leave and address women’s under-representation in the labour market. When fully applied by all EU countries, the rules should also extend the right to flexible working arrangements to all workers.

Protecting the environment and fighting climate change

The EU has always been at the forefront of the fight against climate change. It leads international agreements on reducing carbon emissions and lowering global temperatures in line with the Paris Agreement. The EU has some of the world’s highest environmental standards. These standards protect our natural habitats, biodiversity, drinking water, bathing waters and air quality. The EU’s Natura 2000 network of protected natural areas has created spaces where sustainable human activity can coexist with vulnerable and rare species and habitats.!vC49dj


New rules banning 10 single-use plastic items most commonly found on Europe’s beaches – from cotton buds to balloon sticks and straws – came into force in July 2021.

Find out more:!tDnjbx

However, the fight against climate change has taken on a new urgency. We now need to step up our efforts to protect people, ensure food security, limit water shortages and address the other consequences of extreme temperature changes. The EU has committed to a European Green Deal, an extensive package of measures to fight climate change, pledging to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

See more details in Chapter 4 ‘What’s on the EU’s agenda?’.

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Green Deal Proposal!7F6NCB

EU funding in your region

The countries and regions of the EU are not just different sizes; they also have different levels of wealth. Thousands of projects have received EU funding over the years. These projects have benefited both EU countries individually and the EU as a whole, by creating jobs, boosting economic growth and improving citizens’ quality of life.

People are not always aware that the EU has financed or is financing projects close to where they live. However, projects supported by EU funding have benefited them by creating millions of new jobs, developing strategic transport links, upgrading energy infrastructure, rolling out broadband, investing in research and innovation and protecting cultural heritage and areas of natural beauty.

Have a look at these websites and check out some examples of projects that have received EU funding in your country. You will see that the EU is much closer to your home than you might have thought: and

Thanks to EU funding, you can connect to the internet for free in libraries, parks, museums and other public areas across Europe wherever you see this sign.


The Creative Europe programme aims to foster Europe’s cultural diversity. The European Heritage Label, the European Capitals of Culture and the European Heritage Days encourage more people to discover Europe’s shared cultural roots.

Find out more about culture and creativity in the EU:

EU investment in research

Science has the power to transform the way we live. That’s why the EU is investing billions of euro in research and innovation to fight climate change, boost growth and jobs and tackle the other challenges we face. The EU’s key funding programme in this area is called Horizon Europe. Horizon Europe’s previous funding cycle helped accelerate the development of vaccines, invested in projects to protect biodiversity, and used the Galileo satellite to give us more accurate GPS systems and maps. Reflecting its importance for the EU’s future, Horizon Europe has been allocated a budget of EUR 95.5 billion for 2021–2027. The focus will be on green technologies, artificial intelligence and much more.

Find out more about Horizon Europe:!Xf47NRP

See more details about the EU budget in Chapter 4 ‘What’s on the EU’s agenda?’

An infographic showing the proportion of the EU budget spent on administration.


Here are 10 examples of how the EU works for you in your daily live. Pick the three that are most important to you, compare your answers with those of your classmates and explain the reasons for your choices.

You can travel, study, work and live in any EU country. Free movement of people is possible thanks to the EU’s single market.

The EU has removed barriers to free trade between its members. This means that you can produce, sell and buy goods wherever you want in the EU. It also means that consumers have a larger choice of products and lower prices.

The Schengen Agreement has removed border controls between most EU countries. You can now cross most borders within the EU without showing your passport.

When travelling in another EU country you might fall ill or have an accident. With the European Health Insurance Card you are entitled to any medical treatment that cannot wait until you get home. You will receive state-provided healthcare abroad and pay the same fees as locals.

Air travel has become much cheaper. The EU has broken up national monopolies and has permitted competition in the aviation sector. More cities now have their own airports and there are more direct flights between them. Passenger rights have also been strengthened.

Using mobile phones and smart devices abroad has become much cheaper in recent years. EU rules have significantly reduced the costs (by more than 90 % since 2007) by capping prices. Roaming charges were abolished in June 2017, which means that when using your phone abroad, you now pay the same as you do at home.

As an EU citizen, you own your data. Organisations or companies are not allowed to process your personal information without your consent and you have the right to know what information they hold about you.

EU law protects you whenever you order or buy goods anywhere other than in a shop. For example, if you sign a subscription or contract in the street or buy online, you are allowed to change your mind. You have the right to cancel your order or return your purchase within 14 days.

As a consumer you might want to ‘buy green’. The EU’s energy label will help you make the right choice. Many products such as light bulbs, washing machines, refrigerators and televisions carry the EU energy label. This makes it easier to identify the most energy-efficient products, which are classified as ‘A’.

You can enjoy clean bathing and drinking water in the EU. As environmental pollution knows no boundaries, the EU has introduced compulsory, Europe-wide limits on air and water pollution. EU countries must make sure that these levels are complied with.