The European Union – origins, history and development
The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 27 European countries whose main goal is economic and political integration of the European continent.
The history of The European Union started in 1951, in Paris where six countries (France, Germany, Italy and countries of Benelux) got together and formed the European Coal and Steel Community. A few years later, in 1957, those same six countries met again, except this time it was in Rome where they founded another two organizations. First, the European Economic Community, with the purpose of establishing a mutual market and economic policies, and the other one being European Atomic Energy Community. It was these three communities that made the foundation for the economic integration. In 1965, in Bruxelles, Merger Treaty was signed and the three communities were joined together to form one European Community. It wasn’t until 7 February 1992, with the signing of Maastricht Treaty, that the organization was named The European Union. The institutions were completely established and it was decided that the most important and powerful ones are going to be the European Commission, Council of the European Union, European Council, European Parliament, European Court of Justice and Court of Auditors. Today these top institutions still hold their power.
As previously mentioned, the European Union first consisted of only six countries: France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands which were later joined by other European countries during the course of 20 years. The first joining happened from 1970 to 1979 and in 2004 the largest joining took place when 10 countries decided to become members and work for a better world together. Croatia was the last one to join, in 2013. Since the Great Britain officially left The European Union on 31 January, EU now gathers 27 countries all the way from Finland and Sweden to Greece and Malta.
With the Maastricht Treaty ideas and beliefs of The European Union were established. First and most important they agreed on fundamental principles regarding all member countries and those are freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. In addition to these principles they also decided on goals that would help with the political and economic situation. The countries agreed on promoting balanced and sustainable economic and social progress, confirmation of the Union‘s identity on the international scene, strengthening and protection of the rights and interests of all people of the member countries and lastly establishing close cooperation in the field of home affairs.
Written by Tea Toplak