Chanakya IAS Academy Blog


Introduction : The article traces the evolution of European Union after the second World War.

  • The idea of a “United States of Europe” was first proposed by Winston Churchill, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1946. However, the move towards a supranational European organisation began on May 9, 1950 with the Schuman Declaration.
  • Robert Schuman, the French Foreign Minister, set in motion the formation of a pan-European union by proposing a joint “High Authority” that would control coal and steel production in France and Germany.
  • He proposed that the organisation would be open to other European countries as well.
  • The Schuman Declaration was built upon the idea of Franco-German reconciliation to prevent the two nations from starting another World War.
  • European Coal and Steel Community
    • The Treaty of Paris, signed in 1951, set up the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the forerunner to the modern European Union.
    • It consisted of the six nations: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany.
    • The idea behind this economic union was that war would be far less likely between countries that are economically interdependent. The ECSC eventually led to the creation of the European Economic Community in 1957.
  • European Economic Community
    • The Treaties of Rome set up the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) that led to the creation of a ‘Common Market.’
    • The six member-nations of the EEC promised to reduce trade barriers and come out with common policies in areas such as transportation and agriculture.
    • This eventually created a system that allowed labour and goods to move freely between the member-nations. In 1957, Great Britain declined an invitation to join the EEC. In 1963, Great Britain tried to join the Common Market, but the then French President vetoed its application believing that the Britain “was not serious about European integration,”.
  • Merger Treaty
    • The Merger Treaty streamlined the European organisations (ECSC, EEC AND EURATOM) as the European Communities with the creation of a single Commission and a single Council to serve the three communities.
  • First Enlargement
    • In 1973, the European Communities, which consisted of the original six members, was finally expanded to include Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
    • In 1979, the European Parliament conducted the first pan-European elections, where its citizens elected the Members of the European Parliament directly.
    • Greece joined the European Communities in 1981, followed by Spain and Portugal in 1986.
  • The Single European Act
    • The Single European Act came into force on July 1, 1987. It created a single European market and reformed its institutions to prepare for the accession of the Spain and Portugal to the European Communities.
    • The Act also helped set into motion a vast six-year programme to reduce the restrictions on trade flow for European nations, setting up the single market. It allows for the free movement of people, goods, and money.
  • The Treaty of Maastricht
    • Treaty of Maastricht or the Treaty on European Union came into force on November 1, 1993. This treaty gave more decision-making power to the European Parliament and created the European Union.
    • It also created new avenues for European cooperation in fields such as Justice and Home Affairs and a Common Foreign and Security Policy. It also set the framework for a common currency policy, which in 1995, was renamed as the Euro.
  • The Schengen Agreement
    • Beginning in 1995, the Schengen Agreement came into force, allowing for a Europe without border controls for its member states.
  • The Treaty of Amsterdam
    • It came into force in 1999 and consolidated the numerous treaties which made up the EEC and EU. It also created room for greater transparency within the Union.
  • The Euro
    • In 2002, the Euro came into force for member countries of the Eurozone. Today, 19 members of the European Union have adopted the Euro as their official currency.
  • Treaty of Nice
    • In 2003, the Treaty of Nice came into force which streamlined the numerous mechanisms of EU governance as well as increased the number of seats in the European Parliament to 732, in the hope of an Eastern expansion.
  • Enlargement of the European Union
    • The largest enlargement of the European Union occurred on May 1, 2004. Ten countries: Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia became its members taking the member-nations count to 25.
    • Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU on January 1, 2007, followed by Croatia, which became its 28 member on July 1, 2013.
  • Treaty of Lisbon
    • The Treaty of Lisbon came into force on December 1, 2009 and created a permanent President of the European Council and increased the legislative powers of the European Parliament.
    • This treaty amended the Treaty of Maastricht and the Treaty of Amsterdam that formed the constitutional basis for the EU. The
    • Treaty of Lisbon made the European Central Bank and the European Council official institutions of the EU.
  • Nobel Peace Prize
    • On December 10, 2012, the European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to stabilise Europe and to turn the continent into one of peace.

Question: The idea behind the creation of united states of Europe and economic union was that war would be far less likely between countries that are economically interdependent. In the light of this statement, highlight the evolution of this supra national institution and analyse how far it has been successful in achieving its targets..

Suggested approach:

  • Timeline and events that led to present European Union.
  • Analyses of its work with respect to its stated objectives.
  • The future of this community after present exit of Britain.


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