Important dates in the history of the European Union


1950: Robert Schuman, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, makes a speech proposing that France and Germany pool their coal and steel resources in a new organization that other European countries can join. This date, May 9, is regarded as the birth of the European Union, and is now celebrated annually as Europe Day.

1951: France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Italy sign up to the treaty, which creates the European Coal and Steel community (ECSC).

1957: The Common Market and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) are created by the Treaty of Rome. The Common Market allows member countries to trade freely with one another with import /export taxes being added to the cost of their goods.

1960: The European Free Trade Association is created (EFTA). This is made up of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. It is created to establish free trade among members and to broaden the economic union to other non-EU western European countries.

1973: Ireland, Denmark and the UK join the European Community. Norway holds a referendum and votes not to join.

1979: For the first time, 410 members of the European Parliament are elected by elections in which the public vote.

1981: Greece joins the European Community.

1986: The Single European Act is adopted. Spain and Portugal join, bringing membership of the European Community to ten countries.

1991: Creation of the European Economic Area.

1992: The treaty on European Union is signed at Maastricht.

1993: The single market is created.

1995: Austria, Finland and Sweden join the European Union.

1997: The Treaty of Amsterdam is signed.

1999: Eleven member states start the third stage of European Monetary Union and vote to adopt the Euro as their single European currency.

2001: The Treaty of Nice is signed. Irish voters reject the treaty in a referendum in June. Voter turn out is low at 34%.

2002: Euro notes and coins come into general circulation in 12 countries. Ireland holds a second referendum on the Nice Treaty in October. This time turnout rose by almost a third, and the treaty is approved by a majority of almost 63%.

2004: European Constitution is proposed.

2005: The French reject the European Constitution in a referendum, followed three days later by voters in The Netherlands.

2007: Bulgaria and Romania join the European Union. The Treaty of Lisbon is signed by EU leaders in December.

2008: Ireland holds a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, the only EU member state to do so.



About luisyork

Poli Sci graduate with an interest in International Relations and Development. View all posts by luisyork

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