The ‘New Europe’
The Origins of the EU
Economic integration was launched in the wake of World War II, as a devastated Western Europe sought ways to rebuild its economy and prevent future wars.
On May 9, 1950, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman announced a plan, conceived by French businessman-turned-advisor, Jean Monnet. To control the forces of war, Monnet proposed pooling European coal and steel production under a common authority. The Schuman Declaration was regarded as the first step towards achieving a united Europe - an ideal that in the past had been pursued only by force.
The European Union is a unique, treaty-based, institutional framework that defines and manages economic and political cooperation among its fifteen European member countries. The Union is the latest stage in a process of integration begun in the 1950s by six countries - France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg - whose leaders signed the original treaties establishing various forms of European integration. These treaties gave life and substance to the novel concept that, by creating communities of shared sovereignty in matters of coal and steel production, trade and nuclear energy, another war in Europe would be unthinkable. While the EU has evolved common policies in a number of other sectors since then, the fundamental goal of the Union remains the same: to create an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe.
Important Points in the EU History
- Around the same time as the OEEC were formed, other schemes for the European co-operation was also being implemented. The most important of these were the formation of a Customs Union between Belgium. Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
1952 Six countries - Belgium, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands - create the by pooling their coal and steel resources in a common market controlled by an independent supranational authority.
The set up the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), extending the common market for coal and steel to all economic sectors in the member.