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Treaties

The creation of the first “Community”, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), was the starting point for over 50 years of European treaty-making. Between 1951 (ECSC Treaty) and 2001(Treaty of Nice), no fewer than 16 treaties were signed. This series of treaties did far more than simply amend the original text: new treaties were born and gradually extended the family.

The principal treaties are as follows:

  • Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), signed in Paris in 1951. This treaty expired on 23 July 2002.
  • Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (EEC), signed in Rome in 1957.
  • Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), signed in Rome in 1957.
  • Single European Act (SEA), signed in Luxembourg in 1986.
  • Treaty on European Union (TEU), signed in Maastricht in 1992.
  • Treaty of Amsterdam, signed on 2 October 1997.
  • Treaty of Nice, signed on 26 February 2001.

All these treaties have been amended on a number of occasions, in particular at the time of accession of new Member States in 1973 (Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom), in 1981 (Greece), in 1986 (Spain and Portugal), in 1995 (Austria, Finland and Sweden), in 2004 (Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) and in 2007 (Bulgaria and Romania).

A draft European constitutional treaty was signed in October 2004. Intended to repeal and replace by a single instrument all the existing treaties with the exception of the Euratom Treaty, it consolidated 50 years of European treaties. Following the difficulties in ratifying the Treaty in some Member States, the Heads of State and Government decided, in June 2005, to launch a “period of reflection” on the future of Europe.

At the European Council meeting in June 2007, European leaders reached a compromise and agreed to convene an Inter-Governmental Conference to finalise and adopt not a constitution but a “reform treaty” for the European Union. The Lisbon Treaty, signed on 17 December 2007, entered into force on 1 December 2009. It comprises the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the functioning of the EU (TFEU). Its provisions are incorporated in the existing treaties.

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