Avoiding war in Europe through trade relations between the countries – the aims of the European Economic Community (EEC), founded in 1958, were affected by the experiences of the Second World War. Originally, the EEC has been a convention between only six countries, namely Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The increasing economic cooperation leaded to the establishment of a huge international market, which still develops further and further to deploy it’s full potential. While the classical meaning was to found an economic community, the European Union has developed into a wide-ranging organisation, which cares about environment protection as well as foreign aid. That’s the reason why it was redefined to the “European Union (EU)” in 1993. It is based on constitutional legality and democratic and optional agreements between the member states. In these binding arrangements the aims of the different functions of the EU are determined.
The EU stabilises the peace in Europe for already a half century now and also arranged a uniform currency – the Euro- which has raised the prosperity in general. In addition, the border controls between the member countries were abrogated to improve the liberty for working and living in Europe.
Today, the common market facilitates the open transport of goods, services and assets in the EU and provides the freedom of the citizens.
Human dignity, democracy, liberty, constitutional legality and respect for human rights – goods with high standard in the EU which are also fostered beyond the Union’s borders. The by the EU granted rights are laid down in the “Charta of Fundamental rights”, since the execution of the Lisbon contract in 2009.
Most important Organisations and Institutions of the EU
the European Parliament gets elected by the citizens and represents them
the Council of the European Union consists of the different member states’ governments
the European Commission represents the interests of the EU in general
These three institutions devise the statutory provisions and political strategies in the EU. The Council and the Parliament pass the statutory provisions while the Commission ensures that they are applied in all EU member states.
The European Council guides the political direction but has no direct legislative power. Under the management of Donald Tusk, the heads of government of the EU-countries meet two times every six months.
- the European Central Bank is responsible for the European monetary policy
- the Audit Court checks the expenses of the EU
- the European Court of Justice arranges the compliance of the EU law
The European Central Bank cares for the stability of the European finance system, watches the financial markets and contains the inflations. The Audit Court observes the use of the European citizens’ taxes, surveys the EU institutions and publishes a report about the fiscal period every year. The Court of Justice regulates litigations between member countries, and watches over the equal construction of the EU-law.
History of the European Union
The purpose of the European Union is to avoid conflicts between the member countries by securing the peace in Europe. From 1950 on, the European Coal and Steel Community starts to unite the European countries in political and economical affairs. The founder members are the heads of governments of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The 1950ies are characterised by the cold war between east and west. In 1956, the Hungarians raise up against their communistic command; for which reason the Soviets march up with armours to suppress the revolt. In 1957, the Soviet Union also succeed in sending the first satellite to space and win the duel against their American rivals.
On 25 March 1957, the European Economic Community (EEC) is found to extend the collaboration of the member countries out of economic affairs. In the Treaty of Rome the aims and conditions of the association are laid down. Free movement of goods, people and facilities are intended.
Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands are members of the EU from the very beginning on. They founded the EU-precursor “European Economic Community” out of the “European Coal and Steel Community”.
On 30 July 1962, the EEC agrees on a common agricultural policy. From then on, the member countries control their food production among each other and the farmers get standardized prizes for their products. But an undesirable side effect is the overproduction of the goods. In the 1990ies the surpluses finally get degraded and the food quality enhanced.
In May 1963, protests and riots from students in France and other EEC-member states against the Vietnam-War and the nuclear arms race convulse the governments.
On July 20 1963, the EU member states sign the international agreement to support 18 former colonies in Africa. In 2005 the EU already commands about partnership agreements with 78 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean. The EU is the worldwide biggest aid donor in many different states; provided that the governments respect the human rights of their citizens in their countries.
On July 1 1968, the EEC member states abolish the internal tariffs to submit a cross-border free trade for the first time ever. At goods out of third countries unified taxes got levied. This is the beginning of a big trade area among the EEC as well as world wide.
In August 1968, soviet armours invade Prague and 6000 soldiers occupy the country and stop the Prague spring, the effort to achieve a liberasisation- and democratisation program of the communistic party in the Czechoslovakia. The Czechs and Slovaks are helpless; the student Jan Palach burns himself to death to demonstrate against the oppressors.
In July 1969 the first moon landing is succeeded by the USA.
On 24 April 1972, the first Exchange Rate Mechanism is created as a precursor of a uniform currency -the Euro- 30 years later. Besides, the environment protection gets improved in the 1970ies. Environmental legislations and the “principle of causation” are passed to make the countries responsible for their own detriments on environment, plants, animals and resources.
On 1 January 1973, Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom join the European Economic Community.
In October 1973, the Jom-Kippur-War and the following restrictions in supplies of mineral oil lead to economic problems in the EEC.
On 10 December 1974, the “European Regional Development Fond” gets established to improve the infrastructure and communication media in less wealthy regions to provide jobs. Nowadays one-third of the EU-investments are spent to this fond.
The last two fascistic dictatorships become democratic after the fall of the Salazar-regime in Portugal 1974 and the death of General Franco in Spain 1975.
From 7 – 10 July 1979, the European Parliament gets elected for the first time. Previously, the deputies had been sent out by the national parliaments.
In addition many acts of terrorism are committed in the 1970ies; among the victims are lawyers, politics, business people, eleven Israeli athletes and the Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro in 1978.
On 1 January 1980, Greece joins the EEC as tenth member state. After the military dictatorship gets overthrowned, Greece re-establishes the democracy in 1974 and fulfils the criteria of an EEC membership.
On 28 February 1984, the “esprit-program” gets passed as the first development and research program of the EEC. Computer and Electronics are changing living and working these days.
On 1 January 1986, Spain und Portugal join the EEC, twelve European states now belong to.
On 17 February 1986, the “Single European Act” gets passed as a six-year-program to solve the problems in European trade. Although the internal tariffs had been abolished in 1968, the different international legislations inhibit the trade relations between the member states.
On June 15 1987, the “Erasmus Program” is founded to support students who want to do semesters abroad in other European countries. More than 2 Million people get supported through the Erasmus Program and other educational programmes. The Comenius Project is also a part of this convention.
The fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 becomes a symbol for the collapse of the communistic power in middle and east Europe. After 40 years, Germany gets united again and the new federal states get part of the EEC in October 1990.
On 7 February 1992, the “Treaty on European Union” gets adopted. The rules for the common currency, the foreign and security policy as well the cooperation in judiciary affairs are laid down in this treaty.
On 1 January 1993, the internal market with free movements of goods, services, asset and persons finally is established. Since 1986, more than 200 legal acts had been passed to remove the obstacles in occupational qualification, fiscal and corporate policy.
Two years later, on 1 January 1995, Finland, Austria and Sweden join the EU. The EU-area almost rages all over Western Europe.
On 26 March 1996, the “Schengen Agreement” enters in force in Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. Now passengers of any nationality can travel between these countries without passing any border controls. More countries have since joined the Schengen-area.
On 17 June 1997, the “Treaty of Amsterdam” gets passed to reform EU-institutions, strengthen the position of the EU in the world and to promote the civil rights.
On 13 December 1997, the head of governments of the EU member countries gather accession negotiations with ten middle and east European countries, namely Bulgaria, Estonia Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Rumania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Malta and Cyprus.
On 1 January 1999, the Euro gets introduced as book currency in eleven countries. Belgium, Germany, Finland, France, Greece (in 2001), Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Spain now belong to the Euro zone.
On 1 January 2002, Euro banknotes and coins are introduced.
On 31 March 2003, the EU takes on peacekeeping operations in the Balkan, initially in the former Yugoslav Republic, then in Bosnia and Herzegovina. There, the EU-led forces replace NATO units. Internal, the EU arranges an area of freedom, security and justice to offer a high level of protection to the citizens.
On 1 May 2004, eight middle and east European countries join the EU, namely Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Cyprus. The 60 years lasting division of Europe is now resolved.
Bulgaria, Rumania and Turkey are accession candidates for the EU-membership.
On 29 October 2004, the 25 EU-countries sign the agreement on a European constitution to enable an improved resolution and action ability. The department of the foreign security gets established.
In February 2005, the “Kyoto-Protocol” to restrict the global warming takes effect; the EU wants to take care of the consequences of the climate change.
On 1 January 2007, Bulgaria and Rumania join the EU as two more eastern European countries. Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey are possible candidates for an EU membership.
On 13 December 2007, the 27 member states sign the Lisbon agreement to improve the democracy, efficiency and Transparency of the EU. In addition challenges like the global warming, security and sustainable development need to be approached. The Lisbon agreement gets ratified in all member states and becomes operative on 1 December 2009.
The future demands the EU better cooperation then ever. The recovery of the economic crisis and the asylum and refugee issues are big challenges for the European Union to be coped. Especially the mass of immigration and the related influence of different cultures and lifestyles need to be faced. The EU has to find a way to help and accommodate immigrants, but also mediate between war countries to prevent conflicts and enhance the living situations of the people on the spot.