Before the end of the year, the European Union’s population will exceed 500 million people. Yesterday, Eurostat reported that on January 1, 2009, it stood at 499.8 million, thanks to 5.4 million births and 1.6 million new immigrants the previous year. If the union of 27 countries was one country, it would be the third largest in the world, after China and India. The bloc already comprises the world’s largest economy. Politically, though, it remains the sum of 27 different countries – which have chosen, through the free will of their people, to become part of the greatest political peacetime experiment in history. Often national interests and sensitivities lead to disagreement and delays in internal and foreign policy. This is natural when free people make deals with each other and decide their common future. But with the imposition of common principles and institutions, the EU is creating the conditions for peaceful coexistence and development that benefit every citizen, each child that is born here and every immigrant who chooses to make a united Europe their home.