The 1960s sees the emergence of 'youth culture’, with groups such as The Beatles attracting huge crowds of teenage fans wherever they appear, helping to stimulate a cultural revolution and widening the generation gap. It is a good period for the economy, helped by the fact that EU countries stop charging custom duties when they trade with each other. They also agree joint control over food production, so that everybody now has enough to eat - and soon there is even surplus agricultural produce. May 1968 becomes famous for student riots in Paris, and many changes in society and behaviour become associated with the so-called ‘68 generation’.
In August 1961, the communist authorities in East Germany build a wall across Berlin to prevent their citizens from escaping to a freer life in the West. A few people still escape; others are shot by guards in the attempt.
The EU starts its ‘ common agricultural policy ’ giving the countries joint control over food production. Farmers are paid the same price for their produce. The EU grows enough food for its needs and farmers earn well. The unwanted side-effect is overproduction with mountains of surplus produce. Since the 1990s, priorities have been to cut surpluses and raise food quality.
‘Beatlemania’ sweeps the world in 1963. The Beatles, the first pop supergroup, attract huge crowds of teenagers wherever they appear. They stimulate a cultural revolution, widening the generation gap.
The EU signs its first big international agreement — a deal to help 18 former colonies in Africa. By 2005, it has a special partnership with 78 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regions. The EU is the world’s biggest provider of development assistance to poorer countries. Its aid is linked to respect for human rights by recipients.
Rioting by students and workers in France in May 1968 shakes the very foundations of the State. Milder student protests occur in other EU countries. They reflect frustration at remote and unresponsive governments as well as protests again the Vietnam War and the nuclear arms race.
The six remove customs duties on goods imported from each other, allowing free cross-border trade for the first time. They also apply the same duties on their imports from outside countries. The world’s biggest trading group is born. Trade among the six and between the EU and the rest of the world grows rapidly.
Soviet tanks thunder into Prague in August 1968 to crush the short-lived Prague spring of fledgling democracy in Czechoslovakia. With over 600 000 troops occupying the country, the Czechs and Slovaks are powerless. One student, Jan Palach, burns himself to death in protest.
The Americans reassert their supremacy in space by landing a man on the moon in July 1969.