The construction of EuropeApril 30, 2018
The construction of a future common to all European countries was achieved in several stages, from the aftermath of the Second World War to the present day. From six partners, Europe has grown to 15, and soon to 25, while affirming its political, economic and cultural ambition.
Europe, A very old idea
Already in 1620, the Duke of Sully imagined “a political body of all the States of Europe which could produce between its members an unalterable peace and a perpetual trade”.
In the 19th century, Victor Hugo wrote: “A day will come when we will see these two immense groups, the United States of America and the United States of Europe, placed opposite each other, reaching out their hands over the seas, exchanging their products, their trade, their industry”.
But it was especially after the Second World War that the idea of a united Europe made its way.
1946-1957 : The first steps
In 1946, Winston Churchill called for “the United States of Europe”.
The Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) was created in 1948 to distribute funds from the US Marshall Plan for European reconstruction aid.
On 9 May 1950, Robert Schuman, French Minister of Foreign Affairs, proposed, in a historic declaration, the pooling of the coal and steel resources of France and Germany in an organisation open to other European countries. This declaration was drawn up by Jean Monnet, then Plan Commissioner.
On 18 April 1951 Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands signed the Treaty of Paris establishing the First Coal and Steel Community (ECSC).
1957-1973 : From the Europe of the Six to the Europe of the Nine
1957: On 25 March, six countries sign the Treaty of Rome creating the European Economic Community (EEC or Common Market): Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
1962: first Community policy, the CAP, Common Agricultural Policy.
1966: Luxembourg compromise, which allows a State to request the postponement of a vote and the continuation of discussions on a draft Community decision where this might harm very important national interests.
1968: Customs union is achieved between the six countries in July.
1973 – Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom join the EEC on 1 January.
1974-1985 : Europe in search of a second wind
1974: the Heads of State or Government of the Member States decide to meet regularly in the European Council to set the broad guidelines for European policy.
1975: the Lomé Convention is signed between the European Community and 46 ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) countries. The ERDF, European Regional Development Fund is created.
1979: created to ensure the stability of European currencies, the European Monetary System (EMS) was created on 13 March: the European Currency Unit (Ecu) was born. Europeans elect their MEPs to the European Parliament for the first time by direct universal suffrage.
1981: Greece enters Europe on 1 January.
1986-1995 : From the Europe of the Twelve to the Europe of the Fifteen
1986: Spain and Portugal join the EEC in January. In February, the Single European Act established the completion of the Single Market on 1 January 1993.
1989 – Eleven countries (the United Kingdom abstains) adopt the Charter of Fundamental Workers’ Rights on 9 December.
1991: The European Economic Area (EEA), created on 21 October, is a market of 380 million inhabitants, comprising the 12 countries of the European Community and the 6 countries (Austria, Finland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Sweden) of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
1992: The Maastricht Treaty kicks off Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), extends the powers of the European Parliament, creates European citizenship and strengthens intergovernmental activity (common foreign and security policy, cooperation in judicial and internal security matters).
1993: the Single Market enters into force on 1 January, the Maastricht Treaty in November.
1995: On 1 January, the European Union had three new members: Austria, Finland and Sweden. The Norwegians refuse to enter Europe in a referendum.
1996-2004 : Euro and Enlargement
2 October 1997: completion of the revision of the Maastricht Treaty. The Amsterdam Treaty must be ratified by each Member State before it enters into force;
March 1998: opening of negotiations for the enlargement of the European Union to include the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and Cyprus;
May 1998: choice of countries which will adopt the single currency on 1 January 1999;
January 1999: start of the changeover to the single currency in eleven countries;
March 1999: the Senate and the National Assembly pass the law authorising the ratification of the Amsterdam Treaty;
16 March 1999: collegial resignation of the European Commission;
25 March 1999: the Heads of State and Government meeting in Berlin ask Romano Prodi to form a new European Commission and decide on the financial framework for the development and enlargement of the European Union for the years 2000-2006, the Agenda 2000;
1 May 1999: entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty, which brings new areas into the Community field and lays down the principle of closer cooperation.
13 June 1999: European Parliament elections;
15 September 1999: approval by the European Parliament of the European Commission chaired by Romano Prodi;
25 September 1999: appointment of the new European Commission;
7 December 2000: proclamation of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;
26 February 2001: signing of the Treaty of Nice. This new Treaty provides for a reform of the institutions of the European Union with a view to enlargement;
1 March 2002: opening of the Convention on the future of Europe.
17 April 2003: Signature of the Accession Treaty of the ten new countries to the EU: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.
1 May 2004: The 10 new countries join the European Union.
13 June 2004: First European elections of the Union of 25.
18 June 2004: Adoption of the draft European Constitution by the Heads of State and Government.