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Difference Between European Union and NATO

Both NATO and EU include the involvement of European countries, which is why they appear to resemble each other at first sight. However, taking a deeper look reveals several differences between these two powerful organizations.

The main difference between the EU & NATO is the purpose of their establishment. EU was founded prominently to ease and facilitate trade, while NATO is truly related to defense. The number of countries participating in each organization is different, while some countries are the members of both organizations.

Both the organizations differ in terms of member countries, the primary purpose, and the military force possessed by each of them.

What’s the European Union (EU)?

Flag of European Union

Short for EU, European Union refers to an economic union in Europe. It’s a political group whose primary intention of existence is to secure and strengthen the economic, social, political, and financial position of the member countries. EU formation is a brilliant concept to keep the European nations united, which as a result helps in attaining peace and strength globally.

All the agendas and priorities of the EU are discussed and authorized in the European council, a meeting place where every head of all the member countries meet. In addition to that, there are seven institutions that altogether run the EU. These are:

  1. Council of the European Union
  2. European Council
  3. European Parliament
  4. European Commission
  5. Court of Justice of the European Union
  6. European Central Bank
  7. European Court of Auditors

Sources suggest that according to the World Trade Organization, the United States is at the top of the wealthiest entity in net wealth. EU is the second wealthiest entity after the United States. Since the EU involves politics, it's termed as a "Political Entity" and hence is represented in the WTO.

What’s the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)?

Flag of NATO

NATO is prominently a military alliance that includes a majority of Western European countries in addition to a few North American countries. They focus more on military operations; hence they're strong in terms of armed force. The concept of NATO involves attaining world peace, which is why NATO keeps interfering in any war-like scenarios globally over time.

One such example is interfering in a war in Afghanistan. NATO has a strict concept that attacking one member of NATO means attacking all the members of NATO. NATO is another brilliant concept to bring countries closer to keep them united, which helps all the countries stand strong against enemy countries.

NATO is controlled or governed by the Military Committee, which is a group of top-level military authorities from all the member countries. This ensures fair decision-making since all the member countries have their military personnel in authority.

Differences Between EU And NATO

Membership

Both NATO and EU differ on the basis of the participation of the member countries. NATO is a group of 30 countries, which include Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Iceland, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary,  North Macedonia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, Denmark, Poland, United Kingdom, and the United States.

European Union, on the other hand, is a group of 27 countries, which include France, Bulgaria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Austria, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Italy, Luxembourg, Romania, Slovakia, Malta, Croatia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

Purpose

The main purpose of NATO is to promote defense by offering military intervention to achieve a wave of global peace. Any terrorist attack or situations leading to scenarios similar to World War shall be controlled by NATO. NATO does not initiate attacks on any region or country; hence they're more for defense rather than for offense.

European Union is primarily intended to promote trade and improve the financial stability of the member countries. The purpose of the EU is also to bring all the members on the same grounds so as to facilitate uninterrupted movement of people, goods, services, and money between and within the boundaries.

Army

Since NATO is meant to facilitate defense, they have a large number of troops. The army owned by NATO consists of highly trained and skilled troops, which are always ready to go on any mission on short notice. The troops can be deployed anywhere around the world wherever NATO wants. The member country of NATO can deploy its troops in any other NATO member country. EU isn’t involved with defense or military operations, which is why it doesn’t have an army.

Comparison Chart: EU Vs NATO

AreasEUNATO
Founded1 November 19934 April 1949
Official Languages24 languages, mostly EuropeanEnglish & French
TypeSupranational unionMilitary alliance
Area LimitationsOnly European countriesEuropean countries, Canada, & US, where the United States is considered the most important member
MembersFrance, Bulgaria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Austria, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Italy, Luxembourg, Romania, Slovakia, Malta, Croatia, Slovenia, Spain, and SwedenAlbania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Iceland, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary,  North Macedonia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, Denmark, Poland, United Kingdom, and the United States

Similitudes Between EU and NATO

Both EU and NATO have headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Both facilitate unity between the member countries. Also, no member country in any organization shall attack or betray another member country. About 21 countries are common in both the bodies.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the similarities and differences between the NATO member countries?

All the NATO member countries have armies other than Iceland. Iceland is the only NATO member with no army, but it does own a small coast guard in addition to a tiny civilian specialist group.

Iceland uses these coast guards and civilian specialists for any NATO operations when needed. Moreover, three members of NATO have nuclear weapons- the UK, US, and France.

Is there any EU country that's not in NATO?

About 6 EU countries are currently not aligned with NATO military operations, which include Cyprus, Austria, Malta, Ireland, Sweden, and Finland.

Conclusion

By the end of this discussion, it's safe to conclude that NATO and the EU were not only formed for political and economic well-being but also for public welfare. There have been several scenarios in the past when NATO intervened in global war-like situations to control the situation. Due to the presence of NATO, the terrorist attacks on a global scale are controlled. Also, with the foundation of the EU, small European countries now live in peace as they live united with other European countries.

References

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About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
All Posts Written By Tom Vincent

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