This is when all of Europe becomes united under a single powerful government that either supercedes or in extreme cases supplants the traditional national governments of Europe. Usually, the government in question takes the form of an expanded version of The European Union, or is a clear Expy thereof. This trope is often found in stories that take place Twenty Minutes into the Future.
The dream of a United Europe was very real in the 1950s after World War II — the idea of the mainland throwing off prejudice and becoming one massive Happyland. There is also presumably a connection being drawn by some people with the rise of the USSR and USA — to them, it 'makes sense' that there should be a United States of Europe to join it. Today, that 1950s dream is more widespread than it has ever been, but, naturally, blocks still remain.
It was also very real before that: See Charlemagne, Louis XII, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Adolf Hitler as attempts to violently unify Europe. Oh yeah, there's also Ancient Rome, which actually succeeded in unifying much of what is now southern Europe and was the example many of the aforementioned leaders sought to emulate.
In Real Life, the European Union is a free-trade area that has gradually evolved to include 'common policy' in areas such as agriculture, standards, border controls, etc etc etc, and has many characteristics of a federation, like a common currency throughout most member states,note Great Britain and most of Scandinavia are in the EU but not the Eurozone an elected parliament, a motto, an anthem and a court of justice (while technically, it remains at best confederation due to states remaining independent). While some have called it a de facto federation, it is still a long way off being one country, and there is still a great amount of debate about the subject between people who are opposed to expanding the European Union's power and those who are in favour of political unification. Likewise, there is debate on exactly how the EU is supposed to be run, considering how its structure is unlike that of the USA.
A recurring phenomenon in this trope, especially if the creator is British or American, is that Britain will somehow not be part of a United Europe. Oddly enough, the very independent and politically neutral Switzerland, as well as Norway (neither of which are even in the EU) rarely get the same treatment. It should come as no surprise therefore that this trope varies depending on who's making the work in question. Another recurring phenomenon is that the capital of the United Europe rarely stays as Brussels, usually moving to Paris or Berlin, probably because audiences can easily recognize these landmark-heavy locations over the less-visited Brussels.
Whether this is destined to be Truth in Television or not, as well as whether it ought to be, depends on who you ask. It remains a very contentious issue on both sides. Let's just say that the EU isn't especially popular in the UK or present-day Greece, and everywhere else the mention of it being a good/bad thing can spark a rather fierce argument down at the pub if you aren't careful.
See also Space Filling Empire. Compare Expanded States of America and Middle Eastern Coalition. Contrast Balkanize Me.
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Code Geass has the Euro-Universe which was apparently founded by Napoleon and includes Britain, though the British royal family had him assassinated as they fled to the still-loyal American colonies. They were also the only one of the three original superpowers that was democratic.
The European Confederation is mentioned as the place where all the action happens in The Sky Crawlers, but this isn't elaborated further. Maps still seem to have national borders drawn on them, but they are crossed by private military forces without incident or even mention.
In Naoki Urasawa's Pluto the EU has evolved into the European Federation and expanded to include Turkey.
A.J. Butcher's Spy High has a united Europe called "Europa".
Eric Flint's 1632 series features a 'United States of Europe' though it is actually more of a United States of Germany, plus bits of OTL France, Denmark, Poland, and Austria.
The Late, Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey was a work of fundamentalist Christian eschatology predicting a united Europe ruled over by The Antichrist. This became a fairly common expectation among the US Christian Right for much of the eighties and nineties, until Islam became the new bogey.
In George Orwell's 1984, all of continental Europe and part of (mostly northern) Asia were united in one nation, called appropriately enough "Eurasia", while Great Britain was a part of "Oceania", which consisted of the territories of the Americas and the former British Empire. (Orwell borrowed the vision of a British-American fusion and a Eurasian USSR from the writings of James Burnham, but his own preferred plan was uniting Britain with the other Western European states, minus their colonies, into a democratic Socialist federation.)
In Andrew Roberts' The Aachen Memorandum, the United Kingdom regains its independence after being under the thumb of a corrupt and dictatorial European Union.
In the Hex series of novels set Twenty Minutes into the Future, the main characters are fighting against/fleeing from the forces of the corrupt European Federation.
In John Barnes' Mother of Storms the European Union has both become more cohesive and taken a racist turn, expelling everyone of non-European descent. By the end of the book it's started to come apart at the seams due to the title crisis.
In Tom Kratman's Caliphate, Western Europe becomes mostly Islamic, under the control of the eponymous Caliphate. The British Isles and Switzerland, however, are not under Islamic control.
Peter F. Hamilton's Great North Road has Grande Europe.
Played with in the Star Carrier series. The Paneuropean Federation appears to be this, except the various nationalities are still bickering constantly. Very few think of themselves as "European" (or "Paneuropean") but still as British, French, Polish, German, etc.
In Samantha Shannon's The Bone Season SCION controls nine European nations, not all of them named (Britain, Ireland, France, Greece, Serbia and Sweden are). How much autonomy the various countries governments have isn't really gotten into although Britain and Ireland are completely under it's control.
White Wolf's Scion RPG, though set in the present day, actually has EU Armed Forces, which the EU does not have although whether it should remains a matter of discussion. In all fairness, said EU Armed Forces were in a story in which the end of the world was in full swing and it is entirely possible that such a situation might cause a united response from Europe.
Transhuman Space has an expanded EU (including Montreal), but only slightly increased powers (the main one being the Genetic Regulation Agency, which polices the Europe-wide ban on bioroid slavery). Several sourcebooks note that Europe has very few federal powers.
In Steve Jackson Games' wargame OGRE, the Paneuropean Federation is this. In the Expanded Universe, its conquest of Britain is a major turning point, because this gives it the designs to create the eponymous supertank.
Partially averted in Ground Zero Games' 'verse (used for the miniatures games Full Thrust, Dirtside II and Stargrunt II: Europe has actually split into the New Swabian League (Germany and Austria), the Federal States of Europe (France, Spain, Italy), and the Scandanavian Federation (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and a reluctant Finland). Britain, meanwhile, is part of the New Anglian Confederation (which also includes the US and Canada).
Neo Tech has a European superstate (and a separate Scandinavian Union, and Madagasque superpower, but that's a different story entirely).
The Battlefield 2 expansion Euro Force features an EU Army, which implies a somewhat more unified Europe than today.
In Front Mission, the "European Commonwealth" is the oldest superstate (the others being the OCU which includes most nations of the Pacific Ocean, and the USN, which is the US except that now all of the Americas are part of it) in Front Mission 4, its leaders are presented as fairly incompetent, and in Front Mission 3, which happens after FM4, Europe is presented as an economical superpower, but do not act directly in the story.
In Tom Clancy's End War, the European Federation is one of three playable factions, being thrown into World War III because of the Russians tampering with a European satellite.
Interestingly enough, the only major countries left outside the EF are the New Commonwealth (the result of Ireland and the UK leaving the Union) and Switzerland.
A mod for Civilization IV included in the Beyond the Sword expansion has one of the four global factions of the far future be "Europa". Doesn't include Britain, which is part of America, Inc, but does include northern Algeria for some reason.
It basically isNineteen Eighty-Four, but with another State; Algeria is there because of the France connection, no doubt.
Mass Effect 2 gives this a nod - Earth is still run by various nations, but the only powers ever talked about are China, an expanded and reorganized United States of America (now including Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean islands), and the European Union. By 2186, the United Kingdom is implied to still be a seperate entity from the European Union however.
A mod for Europa Universalis 3 allows you to create the European Union by taking control of the capitals of the EU as it is right now (that is, Lisbon, Madrid, London, Paris, Rome, Berlin...). Uniting Europe is also a common goal for veteran players.
In the (official) backstory of the Tiberium universe, the Allied Nations basically became this, and eventually, the GDI, after Stalin's assault forced them to band together.
In Girl Genius the Wulfenbach Empire controls a large piece of Europe. How much is vague but apparently most or all of central and eastern Europe. In the novelization Agatha H and the Clockwork princess a footnote mantions that it stretches "from the Atlantic to Istanbul".
In Orion's Arm not only does the US Balkanize but the EU eventually develops into the European Federation, but that isn't mentioned much as most of the interesting stuff happens thousands of years after humanity is driven off earth.