The European Union (EU) is a family of democratic European countries, committed to working together for peace and prosperity. It is not a State intended to replace existing states, but it is more than any other international organisation. The EU is, in fact, unique. Its Member States have set up common institutions to which they delegate some of their sovereignty so that decisions on specific matters of joint interest can be made democratically at European level.This pooling of sovereignty is also called "European integration".
The historical roots of the European Union lie in the Second World War. The idea of European integration was conceived to prevent such killing and destruction from ever happening again. It was first proposed by the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman in a speech on 9 May 1950. This date, the "birthday" of what is now the EU, is celebrated annually as Europe Day.
The Canary Islands became a member of the EU in 1986 however they are exempted from the EU directive on customs allowances (92/12/EEC) leading to confusion as to just what tourists can and can’t bring back by way of alcohol and tobacco.
When Spain joined the EU in 1988, they negotiated an opt-out for the Canaries from Article 2 of Directive 92/12 on “arrangements for products subject to excise duty.” While many tourists are aware of this, some are still being caught out. While tourists can appeal against the seizure of goods, this is small comfort to perfectly law-abiding citizens who find themselves firstly on the wrong side of Customs officers and secondly being out-of-pocket.