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.
creating the European Economic Community (EEC), or ‘ common market ’. The idea is for people, goods and services to move freely across borders.
Agriculture is still a huge focus of the EU today. 40% of the EU budget goes to farming subsidies
The EU is the world’s biggest provider of development assistance to poorer countries
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
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’.
the free movement of goods, services, people and money is now reality
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.
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.