European Union | A brief history

What is the European Union?

The European Union is a community of 27 European nations which have united around common political, cultural, economic and social values.

What were the reasons for forming the EU?

The European Union was created to put an end to the large number of wars between neighboring countries which culminated in World War II. There are also interdependencies between states in their development process.

Thus, after the WW II, several international organizations for cooperation between European states were established, which means that initially they failed to fully create the idea of ​​integration between European states.

Which were the established organizations?

Among the organizations created on the European continent, we should mention an economic organization, the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OECD) for the implementation of the Marshall Plan, established in 1948. Later, in 1960, after the USA and Canada joined the organisation, it became the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Among the military organizations, it is important to mention the Organization of the Treaty of Brussels, established in 1948 by France, the United Kingdom and the Benelux states, which later became the Western European Union, with the accession of the Federal Republic of Germany and Italy and also the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949 for mutual assistance in case of an armed attack by one of the member states.

Last but not least, politically, an organization for the promotion of human rights and democratic values, the Council of Europe, was established in 1949.

How were the European Communities formed?

In addition to these organizations, integration organizations called European Communities have been set up. These reprezent an association of states with their own institutional structure which help to achieve common goals.

The first European Community was the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), which proposed placing the entire coal and steel production of Germany and France under a High Authority. More precisely, they wanted to create a common market and avoid a new war. The founding treaty was signed in Paris in 1951 by Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg and had effect for 50 years.

The next two European Communities were the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC / EURATOM) established by the Treaties of Rome, signed in 1957, by the same founding states. CEE was a general economic organization, integrating in all sectors of activity and CEEA was an organization for the peaceful use of atomic energy.

How did they expand? From the European Communities to the European Union

Between 1973-2013 there were several expansion waves of the European Communities. Thus, several European countries have joined. The biggest wave of expansion took place in 2004, when 10 other states joined the 15 already members. In 2013, the European Union had 28 member states.

With the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, the European Community was renamed the European Union.

On 31st January 2020, the United Kingdom left the European Union.

The EU today

Although it started as an economic union, the EU has gradually evolved, becoming an organization operating in many areas of politics, security, environmental protection, health, justice and migration.


Ana-Maria Neacşu

Legal Intern at R&R Partners Bucharest

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