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How and Why Was the European Union Formed?

The origins of the European Union (EU) begin in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. A treaty was signed in Paris on the 18th April 1951, ensuring that the two main resources needed to go to war, coal and steel, were under joint control. This treaty was the Treaty on the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC Treaty 1951). There were two other treaties, the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (Treaty of Rome) and the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom Treaty 1957), that were signed on the 25th March 1957 in Rome. Both treaties came into force on 1st January 1958, when there was only 6 Member States.

Out of the tree treaties, three communities were created, which were separated legally. They did however share common institutions due to the Merger Treaty 1967. The aim of the Treaty of Rome was to create a common market, where goods and services were able to be offered and sold, and to bring together a range of national economic and social policies.

The EU was created by the Treaty on European Union, which was effective from 1st November 1993. This was based on the existing communities, and aspects of the Treaty of Rome where changed by the Treaty on European Union, including it being renamed to the Treaty establishing the European Community. The Treaty of Amsterdam altered these treaties from the 1st May 1999, and then by the Treaty of Nice from 1st February 2003.

The Treaty of Lisbon was signed by the leaders of the EU countries on the 13th December 2007, and came into force on 1st February 2009. This treaty made changes to the Treaty on European Union to make sure it references the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, making it legally binding. It also altered the original Treaty of Rome, making it the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). These changes led to the establishment of the EU’s legal basis, and also to the three treaties having equal legal value.

The way in which the EU works has improved and developed because of the changes made by the Treaty of Lisbon, predominately by rationalising the original rules that were created when the EU had fewer members. It has also changed the way in which responsibilities are distributed between the EU and Member States, and by altering the role national parliaments have within the EU. 

By: Olivia Attwood