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The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 27 member states that are primarily located in Europe. The EU operates through a system of supranational independent institutions and intergovernmental negotiated decisions by the member states. Institutions of the EU include the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank, the Court of Auditors, and the European Parliament. The European Parliament is elected every five years by EU citizens.

The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), formed by the Inner Six countries in 1951 and 1958, respectively. In the intervening years, the community and its successors have grown in size by the accession of new member states and in power by the addition of policy areas to its remit. The Maastricht Treaty established the European Union under its current name in 1993. The latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009.

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Same-sex marriage map Europe detailed.svg

Same-sex marriage in Spain was legalised in 2005. In 2004, the new Socialist government, led by President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, began a campaign for its legalization, which would include adoption by same-sex couples. After much debate, a law permitting same-sex marriage was passed by the Cortes Generales on 30 June 2005 and published on 2 July 2005. Same-sex marriage officially became legal in Spain on Sunday, 3 July 2005. The ratification of this law has not been devoid of conflict, despite support from 66% of Spaniards. Catholic authorities in particular were adamantly opposed to it, fearing the weakening of the meaning of marriage. Demonstrations for and against the law drew thousands of people from all parts of Spain.

Approximately 4,500 same-sex couples have married in Spain during the first year of the law. Shortly after the law was passed, questions arose about the legal status of marriage to non-Spaniards whose country did not permit same-sex marriage. A ruling from the Spanish Justice ministry stated that the country's same-sex marriage law allows a Spanish citizen to marry a non-Spaniard regardless of whether that person's homeland recognizes the partnership. At least one partner must be a Spanish citizen to marry.

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Lisbon

Lisbon is the capital and largest city of Portugal. It is the seat of the district of Lisbon and capital of Região Lisboa (Lisbon Region). Lisbon municipality has a population of 564,477, and the Lisbon Metropolitan Area in total has around 2,800,000 inhabitants, the largest urban aglomeration of Portugal. Lisbon Region is the wealthiest region in Portugal and it is well above the European Union's per capita GDP average.

Lisbon hosts two important European Union agencies namely, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). The CPLP (Community of Portuguese Language Countries), is also headquartered in Lisbon.

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Brandenburg Gate Quadriga at Night.jpg
Photo credit: א (Aleph)
Close-up of the quadriga (four-horse chariot) atop the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin (Germany) at night.

Did you know?

...that the President of Ireland, who serves as head of state, is elected for a seven year term and can be re-elected only once?

...that within the Eurozone the European Central Bank has the exclusive authority to set monetary policy?

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