EU Brief History


Schuman plan,

18 April 1951

six countries sign a treaty to run their heavy industries – coal and steel – 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.

Treaty of Rome

25 March 1957

creating the European Economic Community (EEC), or ‘ common market ’. The idea is for people, goods and services to move freely across borders.

common agricultural policy

30 July 1962

Agriculture is still a huge focus of the EU today. 40% of the EU budget goes to farming subsidies

The EU signs its first big international agreement

20 July 1963

The EU is the world’s biggest provider of development assistance to poorer countries

End of Dictatorships

1974 - 1975

The overthrow of the Salazar regime in Portugal in 1974 and the death of General Franco of Spain in 1975 end the last right-wing dictatorships in Europe. Both countries commit themselves to democratic government

EU citizens directly elect the European Parliament for the first time

June 1979

Treaty on European Union

7 February 1992

It is a major EU milestone, setting clear rules for the future single currency 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’.

Single Market Established

1 January 1993

the free movement of goods, services, people and money is now reality

Increased Membership

13 December 1997

EU leaders agree to start the process of membership negotiations with 10 countries of central and eastern Europe: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. The Mediterranean islands of Cyprus and Malta are also included. In 2000, Treaty changes agreed in Nice open the way for enlargement by reforming EU voting rules.

Euro introduced

1 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.

European Constitution

29 October 2004

Treaty of Lisbon

13 December 2007

Economic Crisis