The Treaty of Rome is signed
Monnet’s idea, which was named the Schuman Plan, was presented on May 9, 1950 and soon gained more followers. At a meeting in Paris in 1951, France, West Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Italy decided to form the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), which saw the light of day in 1952. Several European countries were invited to join. The British and Danes said no. The Swedes perceived the cooperation as an industrial cartel and did not respond to the request. Once it got started, however, Sweden became an observer in the ECSC.
Jean Monnet became Secretary General of the Coal and Steel Community’s High Authority. He wanted to go further in cooperation and form a European customs union and pursue a common agricultural and transport policy. Member States would pay money into a central budget to cover common expenses.
His proposal was well received by the six countries in the ECSC. In Rome in 1957, they signed the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (EEC), known as the Treaty of Rome. That agreement still applies and contains the whole basis of the EU we know today. It sets out the intention to establish a common market with free movement across borders for goods, services, capital and people, as well as a common agricultural policy and a detailed competition policy. See aviationopedia for EU budget.
At the same time as the EEC, the Euratom Treaty on Nuclear Cooperation was also signed .
More countries are joining
Outside the EEC, other countries in Western Europe created a co-operation that was more to their liking. In 1959, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Switzerland and Austria formed the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Within EFTA, too, tariffs were to be abolished between the countries (though only for industrial goods), but the individual member states retained their own tariffs and trade agreements with the rest of the world. There was no common superior authority or budget.
When the EEC began to show rapid economic growth, the British reconsidered their position and in 1961 the United Kingdom applied for membership. However, French President Charles de Gaulle did not want to join Britain. He felt that the country was not sufficiently European-oriented. Thus, Britain’s application fell.
In 1967, the three treaties (Coal and Steel, EEC and Euratom) were merged under the name European Communities (EC).
When de Gaulle resigned a couple of years later, the door was opened for Britain, which in 1973 became a member together with Denmark and Ireland.
Within the EC, most of the 1970’s and early 1980’s were marked by economic crises and disagreements over the budget and agriculture. Politically, however, during this time good news came from southern Europe. One by one, the old dictatorships fell and the countries joined the EC as soon as they could, as proof that they now belonged to the modern, democratic Western world; Greece 1981 and Spain and Portugal 1986.
In the mid-1980’s, the European Commission had a dynamic chairman, the Frenchman Jacques Delors, who saw the possibility of emerging from a prolonged European recession by realizing the vision of the Treaty of Rome on a common market. At an EC summit in Milan in 1986, this goal was hammered out. At the same time, an amendment to the Treaty (Single Act) introduced majority decisions for the first time, but only for the internal market.
The internal market is set up
Faced with the risk of being voted down, the member states called for a completely new will to seek compromises. On 1 January 1993, the internal market was largely completed. The business community had already prepared and cross-border trade was gaining momentum. This gave rise to an economic upswing, which in turn significantly increased the member states’ sense of community and trust in each other.
The EC’s economic development took place at the same time as Eastern Europe underwent major political upheavals. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of communism in 1990-1991 changed Europe’s political map, but would instability spread to the West? The new uncertain situation in Europe led leaders to convene an Intergovernmental Conference on the future of the EC. In the middle of the negotiations, a war broke out in Europe for the first time since World War II. The Balkan war made it clear to political leaders that the EC had neither the mandate nor the means to intervene in similar conflicts.
In February 1992, a new treaty could be signed, the Maastricht Treaty, which transformed the European Economic Community into a political union, the European Union (EU). The Maastricht Treaty included a future common currency, foreign and security policy cooperation and police cooperation.
EU co-operation had now begun to enter key areas of social policy, and for the first time there were broad national debates about Europe. It turned out that there was a strong opposition to the rapid development.