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A peaceful Europe – the beginnings of cooperation

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The historical roots of the European Union lie in the Second World War. Europeans are determined to prevent such killing and destruction ever happening again. Soon after the war, Europe is split into East and West as the 40-year-long Cold War begins. West European nations create the Council of Europe in 1949. It is a first step towards cooperation between them, but six countries want to go further.

9 May 1950 — French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman presents a plan for deeper cooperation. Later, every 9 May is celebrated as 'Europe Day'.

18 April 1951

Based on the Schuman plan, six countries sign a treaty to run their heavy industries – coal and steel – under a common management. In this way, none can on its own make the weapons of war to turn against the other, as in the past. The six are Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Founding Member States: Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Map – member states of the EU 1951 © Stefan Chabluk

List of all EU member states and when they joined

Swiss architect Le Corbusier marks a new trend with the opening (1952) of his selfcontained ‘vertical city’ (Unité d’habitation) in Marseilles, France. The stark appearance of this concrete complex provokes the nickname ‘The new brutalism’.

In Hungary, people rise against the Soviet-backed regime in 1956. In November, Soviet tanks appear on the streets of Budapest to putdown the protests.

The Soviet Union beats the United States in the space race by launching the first manmade space satellite, Sputnik 1, in 1957.Sputnik 1 orbits the earth at a height of 800 km. In 1961, Soviet Union wins again with the first cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, whose spacecraft is just 2.6m in diameter.

25 March 1957

Building on the success of the Coal and Steel Treaty, the six countries expand cooperation to other economic sectors. They sign the Treaty of Rome, creating the European Economic Community (EEC), or ‘ common market ’. The idea is for people, goods and services to move freely across borders.

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