What is the European Union? A unique economic and political partnership between 27 democratic European countries. What are its aims?

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1 What is the European Union? A unique economic and political partnership between 27 democratic European countries. What are its aims? Peace, prosperity and freedom for its 495 million citizens in a fairer, safer world. What results so far? Frontier-free travel and trade, the euro (the single European currency), safer food and a greener environment, better living standards in poorer regions, joint action on crime and terror, cheaper phone calls and air travel, millions of opportunities to study abroad and much more besides. How does it work? To make these things happen, EU countries set up bodies to run the EU and adopt its legislation. The main ones are: the European Parliament (representing the people of Europe); the Council of the European Union (representing national governments); the European Commission (representing the common EU interest).

2 A short history of the European Union (1) 9 May 1950: French Minister of foreign affairs Robert Schuman presents a plan for a common organization of German and French coal and steel production, which would allow for the eventual participation of other European states. The 9th of May gets celebrated as the Europe Day every year. April 1951: Based on the Schumann Plan, 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. March 1957: The so-called Treaties of Rome are signed by six European states (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands), establishing the European Economic Community (known today as the European Community/EC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). The aims of the EC are clearly stated in its Preamble and in Article 2: The establishment of a common market, progressively to approximate the economic policies of Member States, to promote harmonious development of economic activities throughout the Community, to increase stability and raise the standard of living, and to promote closer relations between the Member States. July 1967: The Merger Treaty, fusing the Executives of the European Communities (ECSC, EEC, Euratom), enters into force. From now on the European Communities will have a single Commission and a single Council. However, both continue to act in accordance with the rules governing each of the Communities. July 1968: Customs union enters into force. Remaining customs duties in intra-community trade are abolished 18 months ahead of what was scheduled in the Rome Treaty and the Common Customs Tariff is introduced to replace national customs duties in trade with the rest of the world.

3 A short history of the European Union (2) January 1973: The United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark become EC members. June 1979: The first direct elections for the European parliament are held, and are subsequently held every five years. January 1981: Greece joins the EC June 1985: The Commission sends to the European Council a White Paper titled "Completing the Internal Market: White Paper from the Commission to the European Council. The Schengen Agreement on the elimination of border controls is signed by Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands in Schengen (Luxembourg). January 1986: Spain and Portugal join the EC. February 1986: The so-called Single European Act (SEA) is signed, mentioning the formation of a European Union as an objective for the first time is established as a deadline for the consolidation of a single market in the European Community. By 1 January 1993, the single market is in effect, including the 4 basic freedoms (freedom of Goods, Movements, Capital and Services) within the Community. October 1990: Germany is unified, and the Länder of the former East Germany become part of the EU. February 1992: The Treaty on the European Union is signed in Maastricht by the Foreign and Finance Ministers of the Member States.

4 A short history of the European Union (3) January 1993: The Single European Market enters into force. January 1995: Austria, Finland and Sweden become members of the European Union. October 1997: The Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Member States of the European Union sign the Treaty of Amsterdam. October 1997: The Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Member States of the European Union sign the Treaty of Amsterdam. January 1999: The euro is officially launched. Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal and Spain adopt the euro as their official currency. February 2001: Following the December 2000 European Council meeting held in Nice, France, a new Treaty amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaties establishing the European Communities, is signed (Treaty of Nice). January 2002: The euro coins and notes enter into circulation in the twelve participating Member States: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

5 A short history of the European Union (4) May 2004: The Accession Treaty enters into force and the European Union's biggest enlargement ever in terms of scope and diversity becomes a reality with 10 new countries - Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia - representing all together more than 100 million citizens, joining the European Union. October 2004: The Heads of State and Government and the EU Foreign Ministers sign the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe in Rome. October 2005: European Union accession negotiations open with Turkey and Croatia. January 2007: The accession of Romania and Bulgaria completes the fifth enlargement of the EU that began in May 2004, raising the number of Member States to 27 and the population within the Union to million inhabitants. Slovenia successfully adopts the euro. The EU now has 23 official languages, following the addition of Bulgarian, Romanian and Irish. December 2007: Hans-Gert Pöttering European Parliament President, José Manuel Barroso Commission President, and José Sócrates Portuguese Prime Minister and President-in-office of the EU Council, sign the Charter of Fundamental Rights in a formal ceremony at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The Treaty of Lisbon is signed at Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, in Lisbon. The Schengen area is enlarged to include Estonia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

6 A short history of the European Union (5) January 2008: Cyprus and Malta adopt the euro. June 2008: In a referendum in Ireland, 53.4% of the electorate vote are against the Treaty of Lisbon, which is intended to optimise the EU s institutions and working methods. The European Council discusses the future of the Treaty of Lisbon and decides to continue the ratification process.

7 THE EURO AREA 15 Member States of the European Union use the euro as their currency: Belgium Germany Ireland Greece Spain France Italy Cyprus Luxembourg Malta The Netherlands Austria Portugal Slovenia Finland Non-participants: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden and the United Kingdom are EU Member States but do not currently use the single European currency.

8 Source for information and maps European Commission:

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