In the post Cold War world, NATO redefined its goals. It helped UN peacekeeping and humanitarian missions. As threats from global terrorism grew, NATO worked to track and uncover terrorist groups and improved preparedness and response to attacks. After the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, NATO forces joined the U.S. against the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Taliban had given shelter to the Al Qaeda terrorist who planned the attack.

Growth of the European Union

The end of the Cold War also changed trade relations in Europe. In 1993, the European Economic Community became the European Union (EU), a bloc of European nations that work together to promote a freer flow of capital, labor, services, and goods. Members also cooperate on security matters. In 2004, the EU added 10 new members mostly from Central and Eastern Europe.

In 2002, the euro became the common currency for most of Western Europe. By then, EU passports had replaced national passports. Today, the expanded EU has the world's largest economy and competes with economic superpowers like the United States and Japan. Some European leaders supported even greater economic and political unity for the region. However, many ordinary citizens felt greater loyalty to their own nations than to the EU. Also, the economies of Eastern Europe were weaker than those in the West, causing worries about the EU's overall economic outlook.

Turkey, long a member of NATO, sought to join the EU. But its application faced opposition in part because of human rights issues and the fears of some European nations about admitting a country with a large Muslim population.

The European Debt Crisis

The 2009 global economic crisis shook the EU as some member nations came close to bankruptcy. They had borrowed heavily to pay for expensive social and other programs. As the economic crisis worsened, countries such as Spain and Greece were unable to pay their debts. The EU provided financial bailouts, or loans, and required severe cuts in spending. Even as the debt crisis eased, it left a legacy of shaken confidence.

Conflict in Northern Ireland

The modern era saw the end of one long-standing conflict. For decades, violence shook Northern Ireland. When Ireland won independence in 1922, Britain kept control of Northern Ireland, six counties that had a Protestant majority. In the face of discrimination, many Catholics demanded civil rights and pressed for unification with Ireland. Protestants wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of Britain.

A map shows that, as of 2013, the European Union included most European nations, with the exceptions of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, the Balkans, and Turkey.

This map shows the European Union in 2013.

Analyze Maps

Which EU members border the Black Sea?


End ofPage 874

Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments