THE EUROPEAN UNION
After the Second World War, Europeans are determined to prevent such killing and destruction ever happening again. Soon after the war, Europe is split into East and West as the 40-year-long Cold War begins. West European nations create the Council of Europe/Consejo de Europa in 1949. It is a first step towards cooperation between them, but six countries want to go further.
9th May 1950 — French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman presents a plan for deeper cooperation. Later, every 9th May is celebrated as ‘Europe Day’.
18th April 1951, six countries sign a treaty to run their heavy industries – Coal and Steel Treaty – under a common management. In this way, none can on its own make the weapons of war to turn against the other, as in the past. The six are Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.
25th March 1957, the six countries expand cooperation to other economic sectors. They sign the Treaty of Rome, creating the European Economic Community (EEC), or ‘common market’. The idea is for people, goods and services to move freely across borders.
On 30 July 1962 The EU starts its ‘ common agricultural policy ’ giving the countries joint control over food production. Farmers are paid the same price for their produce. The EU grows enough food for its needs and farmers earn well. The unwanted side-effect is overproduction with mountains of surplus produce.
1st January 1973, The six become nine when Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom formally enter the EU.
New Member States: Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
7–10th June 1979
EU citizens directly elect the members of the European Parliament for the first time. Previously they were delegated by national parliaments. Members sit in pan-European political groups (Socialist, Conservative, Liberal, Greens, etc.) and not in national delegations. The influence of the Parliament is constantly increasing.
Italian Prime Minister, Aldo Moro, was murdered in 1978 , one of many acts of terrorism carried out by extremist groups in the 1970s. Among the victims are leading lawyers, businessmen and politicians, as well as 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972.
1st January 1981
Greece joins. It has been eligible to join since its military regime was overthrown and democracy restored in 1974.
Member States: Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
New Member State: Greece.
1st January 1986
Spain and Portugal enter the EU, bringing membership to 12.
Member States: Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Ireland, United Kingdom and Greece.
New Member States: Spain and Portugal.
7th February 1992
The Treaty on European Union is signed in Maastricht
Clear rules for the future single currency were set, as well as for foreign and security policy and closer cooperation in justice and home affairs. Under the treaty, the name ‘European Union’ officially replaces ‘European Community’..
1st January 1993
The single market and its four freedoms are established: the free movement of goods, services, people and money is now reality.
1 January 1995
Austria, Finland and Sweden join the EU. In October 1990, Germany was unified and therefore former East Germany became part of the EU.
Member States: Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Ireland, United Kingdom, Greece, Spain and Portugal.
New Member States: Austria, Finland and Sweden.
26th March 1995
The Schengen Agreement takes effect in seven countries — Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Portugal. Travellers of any nationality can travel between all these countries without any passport control at the frontiers. Other countries have since joined the passport-free Schengen area.
1st January 1999
The euro is introduced in 11 countries (joined by Greece in 2001) for commercial and financial transactions only. Notes and coins will come later. The euro countries are Belgium, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Finland. Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom decide to stay out for the time being. Coins and notes will arrive on 1st January 2002.
1st May 2004
Eight countries of central and eastern Europe — the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia — join the EU, finally ending the division of Europe decided by the Great Powers 60 years earlier at Yalta. Cyprus and Malta also become members.
Member States: Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Ireland, United Kingdom, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Finland and Sweden.
New Member States: Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia.
The 25 EU countries sign a Treaty establishing a European Constitution . It is designed to streamline democratic decision-making and management in an EU of 25 and more countries. It also creates the post of a European Foreign Minister. It has to be ratified by all 25 countries before it can come into force.
1st January 2007
Two more countries from eastern Europe, Bulgaria and Romania, now join the EU, brining the number of member states to 27 countries.
Member States: Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Ireland, United Kingdom, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia.
New Member States: Bulgaria and Romania.
The 27 EU countries signed the Treaty of Lisbon, which amends the previous Treaties. It is designed to make the EU more democratic, efficient and transparent, and thereby able to tackle global challenges such as climate change, security and sustainable development. Before the Treaty can come into force, it has to be ratified by each of the 27 Member States
Croatia was the last country to join the European Union in 2013. So the Union has 28 members now.
Candidate countries are Albania, Iceland, Montenegro, Serbia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey
Potential candidates: Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Source: “Europe, Gateway to the European Union”.