1 The end of war between European nations
While disputes between England, France and Germany have been a feature of EU summits, war between Europe's major powers is now unthinkable. The fact that the two world wars that shaped the last century now seem so remote is, in itself, tribute to a visionary project that has permanently changed the landscape. As the EU celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, it is clear that, while the detailed topography will always be difficult to agree, it is an extraordinary achievement that we are standing on common ground.
2 Democracy is flourishing in 27 countries
Spain, Portugal, Greece, and the EU's 10 ex-Communist countries are parliamentary democracies. None of these nations were truly free in the decades following the Second World War. Each is now a democracy anchored within the EU and is unlikely to change course.
3 Once-poor countries such as Ireland, Greece and Portugal, are prospering
EU subsidies well spent have been crucial to the liftoff of the Irish economy. Once firmly in Britain's economic shadow, the Celtic Tiger has emerged. Gross domestic product per capita in Ireland in 2005 was 137.1 per cent of the EU average, compared with 116.8 per cent in the UK.
4 The creation of the world's largest internal trading market
The 27-nation EU now has 500 million people making it the world's largest economic trading bloc. By comparison the US has a population of 300 million. The old EU 25 had 19.2 per cent of the world's exports as compared with 14.4 per cent from the US. This gap is set to grow following the last enlargement in January to 27 member states.
5 Unparalleled rights for European consumers
European consumers can buy goods for their own use in whichever EU country they choose - in person, on the internet, over the telephone, or by mail order - without paying additional taxes. This competition is driving down prices and increasing quality.
6 Co-operation on continent-wide immigration policy
Though individual member states set immigration levels, the EU is increasingly active in the fight against illegal migration and in trying to match the labour needs of European countries to the supply of migrants. On the down side, the EU is increasingly an impregnable fortress and many people lose their lives trying to get here by boat from Africa.
7 Crime-busting co-operation, through Europol
This provides a clearing house for EU police forces. The police in EU member states can now use an EU arrest warrant to get suspects moved from one country to another without lengthy extradition procedures.
8 Laws that make it easier for British people to buy property in Europe
It may not be good for the environment but access to second homes just a short-haul flight away has fulfilled the dreams of millions of Britons. Retirement or regular holidays from the south of Spain to eastern Bulgaria has become a reality for many, and a legally safe-guarded one at that.
9 Cleaner beaches and rivers throughout Europe (see panel above)
EU law and peer pressure - including annual reports - have forced the UK to clean up its act, for example bringing the once-dirty waters off Blackpool beach up to standard. The first EU legislationwas passed in 1976 with two more pieces in 2002 and 2006. Now you can monitor the quality of bathing water by checking on a website.
10 Four weeks' statutory paid holiday a year for workers in Europe
The EU working time directive ensures that all Europeans get at least four weeks of paid holiday per year. In the US many workers get a fortnight. The same directive provides for 11 hours' rest in every 24 and one day of rest per week plus a rest break if the working day is longer than six hours. Minimum standards are set for paid maternity and paternity leave. …