The European Union (EU) is a political and economic partnership of 27 European countries. The Europe Commission (EC) is the precursor of the EU. It was founded after the Second World War by six states with the objective of fostering economic cooperation. Economic cooperation was seen as a way of bringing European countries together and reducing trade barriers between different trading partners. The first EU Member states were the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, France, Germany, and Belgium. For more than half a century, the EU has managed to deliver stability, peace, and prosperity.
The EU has also been instrumental in helping to improve the living standards of citizens of EU member countries. The major goal of the EU is to uphold human rights among its member states and around the globe. The EU’s major core values that also act as its driving force include “human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights” (European Union, 2012). All these rights are achieved through treaties which have been founded and agreed upon democratically voluntarily. From an economic perspective, the EU has been able to form a single market which acts as the major economic engine of Europe.
Euro (€) is the principal currency in the European Union. Euro currency was launched in 1999 but came to full operation in 2002 (European Union, 2012a). The majority of the states use Euro while some member states have opted to continue using their national currencies. Seventeen countries out of twenty-seven member states use the Euro as the main currency. These countries are Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain. Institutions of the European Union such as the European Central Bank use Euro. EU member states that have adopted Euro as the main currency are referred to as eurozone. Three countries in the EU have been given out-outs from using the Euro as the main currency. These states are the United Kingdom, Denmark and Sweden.
Cartels have been defined as collusive practices carried out by firms that collude by exerting market power for their own benefit. Cartels may also be defined as artificial practices which discourage competitive practices. Within the EU, cartels are addressed under Article 101 of the TFEU. The Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) under article 101 bans cartels in the EU. Through treaties and laws such as article 81 of the European Commission Treaty provide, a legal framework on cartels in the EU is provided.