The History of the European Union
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<<<<<<<<<< The following is a quick timeline on the formation of the EU. >>>>>>>>>>
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Beginnings: War and Peace
For centuries, Europe was the scene of frequent and bloody wars. In the period 1870 to 1945, France and Germany fought each other three times, with terrible loss of life. A number of European leaders became convinced that the only way to secure a lasting peace between their countries was to unite them economically and politically.

So, in 1950, the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposed integrating the coal and steel industries of Western Europe. A a result, in 1951, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was set up, with six members: Belgium, West Germany, Luxembourg, France, Italy and the Netherlands. The power to take decisions about the coal and steel industry in these countries was placed in the hands of an independent, supranational body called the "High Authority". Jean Monnet was its first President.

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From three communities to the European Union
The ECSC was such a success that, within a few years, these same six countries decided to go further and integrate other sectors of their economies. In 1957 they signed the Treaties of Rome, creating the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) and the European Economic Community (EEC). The member states set about removing trade barriers between them and forming a "common market".

In 1967 the institutions of the three European communities were merged. From this point on, there was a single Commission and a single Council of Ministers as well as the European Parliament.

Originally, the members of the European Parliament were chosen by the national parliaments but in 1979 the first direct elections were held, allowing the citizens of the member states to vote for the candidate of their choice. Since then, direct elections have been held every five years.

The Treaty of Maastricht (1992) introduced new forms of co-operation between the member state governments - for example on defence, and in the area of "justice and home affairs". By adding this inter-governmental co-operation to the existing "Community" system, the Maastricht Treaty created the European Union (EU).

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Integration Means Common Policies
Economic and political integration between the member states of the European Union means that these countries have to take joint decisions on many matters. So they have developed common policies in a very wide range of fields - from agriculture to culture, from consumer affairs to competition, from the environment and energy to transport and trade.

In the early days the focus was on a common commercial policy for coal and steel and a common agricultural policy. Other policies were added as time went by, and as the need arose. Some key policy aims have changed in the light of changing circumstances. For example, the aim of the agricultural policy is no longer to produce as much food as cheaply as possible but to support farming methods that produce healthy, high-quality food and protect the environment. The need for environmental protection is now taken into account across the whole range of EU policies.

The European Union's relations with the rest of the world have also become important. The EU negotiates major trade and aid agreements with other countries and is developing a Common Foreign and Security Policy.

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The Single Market: Banning the Barriers
It took some time for the Member States to remove all the barriers to trade between them and to turn their "common market" into a genuine single market in which goods, services, people and capital could move around freely. The Single Market was formally completed at the end of 1992, though there is still work to be done in some areas - for example, to create a genuinely single market in financial services.

During the 1990s it became increasingly easy for people to move around in Europe, as passport and customs checks were abolished at most of the EU's internal borders. One consequence is greater mobility for EU citizens. Since 1987, for example, more than a million young Europeans have taken study courses abroad, with support from the EU.

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The Single Currency: the Euro in your Pocket
In 1992 the EU decided to go for economic and monetary union (EMU), involving the introduction of a single European currency managed by a European Central Bank. The single currency - the euro - became a reality on 1 January 2002, when euro notes and coins replaced national currencies in twelve of the 15 countries of the European Union (Belgium, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Finland).

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The Growing Family
The EU has grown in size with successive waves of accessions. Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom joined in 1973 followed by Greece in 1981, Spain and Portugal in 1986 and Austria, Finland and Sweden in 1995. The European Union is now preparing to welcome a further ten countries in eastern and southern Europe: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. These countries are set to join the EU in 2004. Bulgaria and Romania expect to follow a few years later and Turkey is also a candidate country. To ensure that the EU can continue functioning efficiently with 25 or more members, its decision-making system must be streamlined. That is why the Treaty of Nice lays down new rules governing the size of the EU institutions and the way they work. It came into force on 1 February 2003.

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EU Dates to Remember

The European Economic Community (EEC) was founded in the 1950s with six members. It aimed to promote peace and stability within Europe. The United Kingdom joined in 1973, by which time the EEC had become known as the European Community. Today, the association of European countries is known as the European Union. It has 15 member countries. More countries (from Central and Eastern Europe) will join the European Union in May.

The process of European integration can be split into four phases:

Phase 1: 1947-1968. European coal and steel industries were integrated with each other. The EEC introduced a customs union, which abolished customs duties between member countries.

Phase 2: 1987-1992. Trade barriers were abolished to promote free movement of goods, services and capital. More policies were brought under the ECís jurisdiction.

Phase 3: 1992-2002. The European Union aims to achieve Economic Monetary Union (EMU) and European Political Union (EPU). The introduction of the EURO in January 2002.

Phase 4: 2002-2008. Expansion.


1947 Economic Commission for Europe established
1948 GATT entered into force
OEEC founded to coordinate the Marshall Plan
1949 NATO Treaty signed
1950 Schuman Declaration (pooling French and German coal & steel resources)
1951 European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) is established
1952 ECSC came into operation
1955 Messina Intergovernmental Conference (IGC)
1956 Spaak report foreshadowed the Treaty of Rome
1957 EEC & Euratom established (Treaties of Rome): Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands
1958 Treaties of Rome entered into force
1960 OECD established as successor to OEEC Stockholm convention: EFTA established
EFTA came into operation
1961 Republic of Ireland applied for EC membership
UK and Denmark requested negotiations with EC
1963 Elysee Treaty of Franco-German cooperation
General de Gaulle vetoed UK entry into EC
1966 UK, Republic of Ireland and Denmark reapplied to EC
Achievement of free trade in EFTA
1967 Executives and Councils of EC, ECSC and Euratom merged
1968 Removal of all internal customs duties within EC
Establishment of common external tariff
1969 Hague summit: principle of enlargement of EC
1970 Opening of negotiations for enlargement of EC
1971 UK, Republic of Ireland and Denmark signed treaties of accession to EC Negotiations between EC and the six members of EFTA
1972 Conclusion of special relations agreements with Portugal
1973 UK, Republic of Ireland and Denmark acceded to EC Copenhagen summit: declaration on European identity
1974 UK opened renegotiations in Luxembourg Paris summit: program for elections to European Parliament (EP)
1975 Lome convention with 46 African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries Dublib summit: UK renegotiations completed Referendum in UK: Decided to remain in the EC
Greece applied to the EC
1976 Greece's application unanimously accepted
Agreement on the allocation of seats in the EP
1977 Portugal applied to the EC
Spain applied to the EC
1979 European Monetary Systems (EMS) came into operation
Greece signed treaty of accession to EC First direct elections to the EP
1980 Greece acceded to EC
1984 EP voted for draft Treaty establishing the European Union Dublin summit: Council to take steps to complete the Internal Market
1985 Second IGC (Intergovernmental Conference): Commission White Paper on Completing the Internal Market (free movement of people, goods, capital and servces) Agreement on Single European Act (amending Treaties of Rome and Paris), which accelerated the decision-making process and constitutes the first reform of the EU
1986 Spain and Portugal acceded to the EC
1987 Single European Act (SEA) came into force
Turkey applied for membership to the EC
1989 Third direct elections to the EP
Collapse of the Berlin Wall
1990 Liberalization of capital movements in nine Member States
Cyprus and Malta applied to membership of the EC
East Germany becomes part of the EC via reunification process
1991 European Economic Area (EEA): political agreement reached Third IGC produced Maastricht Treaty on the European Union, which incorporates the treaties on Euratom, the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Community (Second Reform)
1992 Budget for 1993-97 proposed (Delors II package)
European Economic Area Treaty (EEA) signed
Lisbon summit: individual negotiations with EFTA states
Danish referendum: failed to ratify Maastricht Treaty
Ireland, Luxembourg, Greece, France, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany ratified Maastricht Treaty through referendum
Britain and Italy removed their currencies from the exchange rate mechanism
Sutherland report produced: The Internal Market After 1992
European Parliament approved EEA
Greece became 10th member of WEU (DK & IRL retain observer status)
1993 Internal Market took effect
Entry into force of Treaty on European Union (Maastricht Treaty)
Enlargement negotiations started with Sweden, Finland and Austria
Opinion of Commission on request for accession of Norway
Danish referendum: positive vote for Maastricht ratification
GATT Uruguay Round of trade negotiations successfully concluded
1994 Entry into force of the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement
Conclusion of enlargement negotiations (Austria, Finland and Sweden)
GATT Agreement signed and World Trade Organization (WTO) established
Fourth direct elections to the European Parliament: increased to 626 MEPs
Spain and Portugal integrated into agriculture policies
Establishment of European Monetary Institute (EMI)
Hungary and Poland applied for membership of the EU
1995 Jacques Santer replaced Jacques Delors as Commission President
First five-year-term commission took office
Austria, Finland and Sweden join the EU
Schengen Agreement came into force in seven countries (Benelux, France, Germany, Portugal and Spain)
Austria applied to join Schengen
Romania, Slovakia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Bulgaria applied for membership of the European Union Messina Conference
1996 Fourth IGC launched at Turin, which produced what became later known as the Treaty of Amsterdam (third reform packet of the EU)
The Czech Republic and Slovenia applie for membership of the EU
1997 The Treaty of Amsterdam is signed
1999 Launch of Single Currency in 11 members states
2000 The Treaty of Nice was agreed upon at the European Council
2001 The Treaty of Nice was signed by the 15 member states and later rejected by the Irish in a country-wide referendum
2002 The Euro currency was put into circulation by twelve member states
Debate held on the future of Europe to propose future decision-making procedures

Quick History of the EU

Pre 1948 - The origins of European integration date back to the end of World War II. The war had left Europe in ruins and prompted the search for a lasting peace and, in particular, the need to bring about lasting reconciliation between France and Germany.

1950 - On May 9, 1950 Robert Schuman, the French Foreign Minister, proposed that French and German coal and steel production should be 'pooled

1951, Treaty of Paris ECSC - One of the first initiatives was the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) established by the Treaty of Paris in . '. Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg and The Netherlands joined France and Germany in setting up the ECSC and merging national interests in these industries.

1957, EEC and EAEC -The six members of the ECSC formed the European Economic Community (EEC) (France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Italy) and began the process of developing a common market for goods and services. The Treaties of Rome, signed in March 1957, created the EEC and the European Atomic Energy Community. The Common Agricultural Policy to support farmers was established.

Since 1957, the EEC has seen four stages of enlargement, and now brings together 15 countries in what is known as the European Union (EU). Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom joined in 1973; Greece in 1981; Portugal and Spain in 1986; and Austria, Finland and Sweden in 1995.

The first direct elections to the European Parliament were held in 1979. Before that its members were drawn from national parliaments.

Another notable development took place in 1987 with the coming into force of the Single European Act which set out the timetable for the creation of the Single Market by 1993. This brought about the world's largest trading area of 370 million people and the free movement of goods, capital, people and services.

The term "European Union" was introduced by the Maastricht Treaty in November 1993. The Treaty established new areas of European co-operation in foreign and security policy, and justice and home affairs. The new Treaty also set out a timetable for economic and monetary union and the introduction of a single currency. Further changes were introduced by the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1999. In particular, the powers of the European Parliament were given a major boost and increased cooperation in foreign policy and home affairs was established.

Further enlargement of the European Union is on the cards as another thirteen countries from Central and Eastern Europe and the Mediteranean have applied to join. In order to allow the EU to function effectively with a much larger membership, the fifteen member states agreed to a new EU Treaty in Nice in December 2000.

A special Convention -the Convention on the Future of Europe- began work in February 2002 on drawing up new arrangements to enable the EU to work when it expands to 25 or more countries.

In January 2002, the euro became the sole currency of 12 out of 15 EU countries. The three countries remaining outside the eurozone are Denmark, Sweden and the UK.

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Created October 1, 2003 by Alan Garfield, University of Dubuque