7 February 1992
The Treaty on European Union is signed in Maastricht. It is a major EU milestone, setting clear rules for the future single currency as well as for foreign and security policy and closer cooperation in justice and home affairs. Under the treaty, the name ‘European Union’ officially replaces ‘European Community’.
1 January 1993
The single market and its four freedoms are established: the free movement of goods, services, people and money is now reality. More than 200 laws have been agreed since 1986 covering tax policy, business regulations, professional qualifications and other barriers to open frontiers. The free movement of some services is delayed.
1 January 1995
Austria, Finland and Sweden join the EU. The 15 members now cover almost the whole of western Europe. In October 1990, Germany was unified and therefore former East Germany became part of the EU.
Member States: Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Ireland, United Kingdom, Greece, Spain and Portugal.
New Member States: Austria, Finland and Sweden.
26 March 1995
The Schengen Agreement takes effect in seven countries — Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Portugal. Travellers of any nationality can travel between all these countries without any passport control at the frontiers. Other countries have since joined the passport-free Schengen area.
17 June 1997
Signature of the Treaty of Amsterdam. It builds on the achievements of the treaty from Maastricht, laying down plans to reform EU institutions, to give Europe a stronger voice in the world, and to concentrate more resources on employment and the rights of citizens.
13 December 1997
EU leaders agree to start the process of membership negotiations with 10 countries of central and eastern Europe: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. The Mediterranean islands of Cyprus and Malta are also included. In 2000, Treaty changes agreed in Nice open the way for enlargement by reforming EU voting rules.
In 1996, scientists in Scotland succeed in cloning a sheep from a single cell of a six-year-old ewe, a breakthrough in genetic engineering. ‘Dolly’ is an identical copy of her ‘parent’.
1 January 1999
The euro is introduced in 11 countries (joined by Greece in 2001) for commercial and financial transactions only. Notes and coins will come later. The euro countries are Belgium, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Finland. Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom decide to stay out for the time being.