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Key dates in the history of European integration
Robert Schuman, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, makes an important speech putting forward proposals based on the ideas of Jean Monnet. He proposes that France and the Federal Republic of Germany pool their coal and steel resources in a new organisation which other European countries can join.
Since this date can be regarded as the date of birth of the European Union, 9 May is now celebrated annually as Europe Day.
In Paris, six countries — Belgium, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands — sign the Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). It comes into force on 23 July 1952, for a period of 50 years.
At a meeting in Messina, the foreign ministers of the six countries decide to extend European integration to the economy as a whole.
In Rome, the six countries sign the treaties establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). They come into force on 1 January 1958.
At the instigation of the United Kingdom, the Stockholm Convention establishes the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), comprising a number of European countries that are not part of the EEC.
In Yaoundé, an association agreement is signed between the EEC and 18 African countries.
A treaty is signed merging the executive bodies of the three Communities (the ECSC, EEC and Euratom) and creating a single Council and a single Commission. It comes into force on 1 July 1967.
The ‘Luxembourg compromise’. Following a political crisis, France agrees to take part in Council meetings once again, in return for an agreement that the unanimity rule be maintained when ‘vital national interests’ are at stake.
Customs duties between the member states on industrial goods are completely abolished, 18 months ahead of schedule, and a common external tariff is introduced.
At the Hague Summit, the EEC’s political leaders decide to move further ahead with European integration, opening the way for its first enlargement.
In Luxembourg, a treaty is signed allowing the European Communities to be increasingly financed from ‘own resources’ and giving greater supervisory powers to the European Parliament.
In Brussels, treaties of accession to the European Communities are signed with Denmark, Ireland, Norway and the United Kingdom.
Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom join the European Communities, bringing their membership to nine. Norway stays out, following a referendum in which a majority of people voted against membership.
At the Paris Summit, the political leaders of the nine member states decide to meet three times a year as the European Council. They also give the go-ahead for direct elections to the European Parliament, and agree to set up the European Regional Development Fund.
In Lomé, a convention (Lomé I) is signed between the EEC and 46 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.
A treaty is signed giving the European Parliament greater power over the budget and establishing the European Court of Auditors. It comes into force on 1 June 1977.
The first direct elections to the 410-seat European Parliament.
Greece joins the European Communities, bringing the number of members to 10.
The second direct elections to the European Parliament.
Jacques Delors becomes President of the Commission (1985–95).
The Schengen Agreement is signed with the aim of abolishing checks at the borders between member countries of the European Communities.
Spain and Portugal join the European Communities, bringing their membership to 12.
17 and 28 February
The Single European Act is signed in Luxembourg and The Hague. It comes into force on 1 July 1987.
15 and 18 June
The third direct elections to the European Parliament.
The fall of the Berlin Wall.
The Maastricht European Council adopts a Treaty on European Union, laying the foundation for a common foreign and security policy, closer cooperation on justice and home affairs and the creation of an economic and monetary union, including a single currency.
The Treaty on European Union is signed at Maastricht. It comes into force on 1 November 1993.
The single market is created.
9 and 12 June
The fourth direct elections to the European Parliament.
Austria, Finland and Sweden join the EU, bringing its membership to 15. Norway stays out again following a referendum in which a majority of people voted against membership.
A new European Commission takes office with Jacques Santer as its President (1995–99).
The Euro-Mediterranean Conference in Barcelona launches a partnership between the EU and the countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean.
The Amsterdam Treaty is signed. It comes into force on 1 May 1999.
The accession process begins for the new candidate countries. Cyprus, Malta and 10 central and eastern European countries will be involved in this process.
Start of the third stage of EMU: 11 EU countries adopt the euro, which is launched on the financial markets, replacing their currencies for non-cash transactions. The European Central Bank takes on responsibility for monetary policy. The 11 countries are joined by Greece in 2001.
10 and 13 June
The fifth direct elections to the European Parliament.
A new European Commission takes office with Romano Prodi as its President (1999–2004).
The Tampere European Council decides to make the EU an area of freedom, security and justice.
The Lisbon European Council draws up a new strategy for boosting employment in the EU, modernising the economy and strengthening social cohesion in a knowledge-based Europe.
In Nice, the European Council reaches agreement on the text of a new Treaty changing the EU’s decision-making system so that the Union will be ready for enlargement. The presidents of the European Parliament, the European Council and the European Commission solemnly proclaim the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
Signing of the Treaty of Nice. It comes into force on 1 February 2003.
Laeken European Council. A declaration on the future of the EU is agreed. This opens the way for the forthcoming major reform of the EU and for the creation of a Convention to draft a European Constitution.
Euro notes and coins are introduced in the 12 euro-area countries.
The Copenhagen European Council agrees that 10 of the candidate countries (Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) can join the EU on 1 May 2004.
The Convention on the Future of Europe completes its work on the draft European Constitution.
Start of the intergovernmental conference responsible for drawing up the constitutional treaty.
Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia join the European Union.
10 and 13 June
The sixth direct elections to the European Parliament.
The European Constitution is adopted in Rome (subject to ratification by member states).
A new European Commission takes office with José Manuel Barroso as its President.
29 May and 1 June
Voters in France reject the Constitution in a referendum, followed three days later by voters in the Netherlands.
Accession negotiations begin with Turkey and Croatia.
Bulgaria and Romania join the European Union.
Slovenia adopts the euro.
Cyprus and Malta adopt the euro
Switzerland joins the Schengen area
Slovakia adopts the euro
4 - 7 June
The seventh direct elections to the European Parliament.
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