Development of the European Union

The development of the European Union was a result of gradual integration of European countries since 1945. The idea of integration was raised by former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill during his speech at Zurich University, Switzerland (19th September 1946). Who, through the recognition of Europe's political, economic and social weakness after World II, stated that the remedy:

" to recreate the European Family, or as much of it as we can, and to provide it with a structure under which it can dwell in peace, in safety and in freedom. We must build a kind of United States of Europe...."

The first step in building the foundation of the European Community was given by the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman. He, in coorperation with Jean Monnet, drew up the Schuman Plan, which proposed joint control over coal and steel production. Thereby, whoever did not have control over coal and steel production would not be able to fight a war. In 1951 the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) treaty was signed in Paris by France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.

As the European Community is based on the rule of law its policies and enlargements is determined by a number of treaties. January 1st 1973 brought about its first enlargement where the Union was joined by Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom. It currently encompasses 28 countries (Member States).

To maintain harmony between its Member States, a treaty was developed to provide a basis for a six year programme aimed at tackling the problems with the free-flow of trade across EU borders and so creating the ‘Single Market’. In 1986 the Single European Act is signed. In 1993 the Single Market was completed with the four freedoms of movement: goods, services, people and money.

On November 1st 1993 the European Union (EU) was put in force by the Maastricht Treaty, which was sign on February 7th 1992. The Maastricht treaty was a consolidation of amendments of existing treaties, primarily Treaty of Rome and the Single European Act. In 2009 the Lisbon Treaty came into force, changing the way the EU works.

Further information: