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How the European Union Was Formed and Why


The late 1940’s and early 1950’s is where the origins of the European Union (EU) begin. On the 18th April 1951 in Paris, a treaty was signed to ensure 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). Also, two other treaties were signed on 25th March 1957 in Rome, which were the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (Treaty of Rome) and the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom Treaty 1957). Both treaties came into force on 1st January 1958, when there was only 6 Member States.


Three communities were created out of the three treaties, and these communities were separated legally. They did however share common institutions due to the Merger Treaty 1967. The Treaty of Rome aimed 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. This included it being renamed to the Treaty establishing the European Community. The treaties were altered by the Treaty of Amsterdam from the 1st May 1999, and by the Treaty of Nice from 1st February 2003.


On the 13th December 2007, the leaders of the EU countries signed the Treaty of Lisbon which came into force on 1st February 2009. The Treaty of Lisbon 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 these three treaties having equal legal value, and establishing the EU’s legal basis.


The changes made by the Treaty of Lisbon have improved and developed the way in which the EU works. Predominantly by rationalising the original rules that were created when the EU had fewer members, changing 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
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