Since their first operational demonstration over 50 years ago, lasers have become invaluable tools in a variety of fields. Among these are manufacturing, medicine, communications and metrology (surface profiling, navigation, geology and more). Seeking to unify and strengthen the EU's position in this important field of research, scientists initiated the EU-funded project 'The integrated initiative of European laser research infrastructures II' (Laserlab-Europe). Structured networking is playing a critical role in Laserlab-Europe's goal of a united European front for laser research. Two thematic networks (network activities (NA)) were formed: one for ultra-high intensity ultrashort lasers (NAUUL) and one for high-energy lasers (NAHEL). In addition, contacts have been established with two African laser networks, the Asian Intense Lasers Network (AILN), and with several partners in Latin America. Laserlab-Europe is also in close cooperation with two committees of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), namely the International Committee on Ultra-High Intensity Lasers (ICUIL) and the International Committee on Future Accelerators (ICFA). Several activities were focused on enhancing transnational access to laser research facilities. Two training schools for potential users were organised. An active Committee of User Representatives held regular meetings and contributed to management and monitoring of infrastructure access. Finally, five JRAs address the latest global trends in laser science. These consist of attosecond science (JRA ALADIN) that pushes the limits in terms of short-duration laser pulses and soft X-ray lasers (JRA SFINX) employing X-rays at the lower end of the X-ray energy spectrum. JRA LAPTECH focuses on laser plasma acceleration and electron beam generation, whereas HAPPIE JRA is focused on current European funding of research into high-power emission/fast repetition rate lasers. JRA OPTBIO has successfully investigated three different areas of laser applications in the life sciences. Laserlab-Europe has successfully coordinated the creation of a unified European infrastructure for laser research building on numerous international and non-European ties. Continued joint research and networking should ensure a leading role for European labs in this important field of endeavour.