In 1951, the Treaty of Paris was signed, creating the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). This was an international community based on supranationalism and international law, designed to help the economy of Europe and prevent future war by integrating its members.
In the aim of creating a federal Europe two further communities were proposed: a and a . While the treaty for the latter was being drawn up by the Common Assembly, the ECSC parliamentary chamber, the proposed defense community was rejected by the French Parliament. ECSC President Jean Monnet, a leading figure behind the communities, resigned from the High Authority in protest and began work on alternative communities, based on economic integration rather than political integration. After the Messina Conference in 1955, Paul Henri Spaak was given the task to prepare a report on the idea of a customs union. The so-called Spaak Report of the Spaak Committee formed the cornerstone of the intergovernmental negotiations at Val Duchesse conference centre in 1956. Together with the Ohlin Report the Spaak Report would provide the basis for the Treaty of Rome.
In 1956, Paul Henri Spaak led the Intergovernmental Conference on the Common Market and Euratom at the Val Duchesse conference centre, which prepared for the Treaty of Rome in 1957. The conference led to the signature, on 25 March 1957, of the Treaty of Rome establishing a European Economic Community.
Creation and early years
The resulting communities were the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM or sometimes EAEC). These were markedly less supranational than the previous communities, due to protests from some countries that their sovereignty was being infringed (however there would still be concerns with the behaviour of the Hallstein Commission). The first formal meeting of the Hallstein Commission was held on 16 January 1958 at the Chateau de Val-Duchesse. The EEC (direct ancestor of the modern Community) was to create a customs union while Euratom would promote co-operation in the nuclear power sphere. The EEC rapidly became the most important of these and expanded its activities. One of the first important accomplishments of the EEC was the establishment (1962) of common price levels for agricultural products. In 1968, internal tariffs (tariffs on trade between member nations) were removed on certain products.
French President Charles de Gaulle
vetoed British membership, held back the development of Parliament's powers and was at the centre of the 'empty chair crisis' of 1965
Another crisis was triggered in regard to proposals for the financing of the Common Agricultural Policy, which came into force in 1962. The transitional period whereby decisions were made by unanimity had come to an end, and majority-voting in the Council had taken effect. Then-French President Charles de Gaulle's opposition to supranationalism and fear of the other members challenging the CAP led to an "empty chair policy" whereby French representatives were withdrawn from the European institutions until the French veto was reinstated. Eventually, a compromise was reached with the Luxembourg compromise on 29 January 1966 whereby a gentlemen's agreement permitted members to use a veto on areas of national interest.
On 1 July 1967 when the Merger Treaty came into operation, combining the institutions of the ECSC and Euratom into that of the EEC, they already shared a Parliamentary Assembly and Courts. Collectively they were known as the European Communities. The Communities still had independent personalities although were increasingly integrated. Future treaties granted the community new powers beyond simple economic matters which had achieved a high level of integration. As it got closer to the goal of political integration and a peaceful and united Europe, what Mikhail Gorbachev described as a Common European Home.
Enlargement and elections
The 1960s saw the first attempts at enlargement. In 1961, Denmark, Ireland, Norway and the United Kingdom applied to join the three Communities. However, President Charles de Gaulle saw British membership as a Trojan horse for U.S. influence and vetoed membership, and the applications of all four countries were suspended. Greece became the first country to join the EC in 1961 as an associate member, however its membership was suspended in 1967 after the Colonels' coup d'état.
A year later, in February 1962, Spain attempted to join the European Communities. However, because Francoist Spain was not a democracy, all members rejected the request in 1964.
The four countries resubmitted their applications on 11 May 1967 and with Georges Pompidou succeeding Charles de Gaulle as French president in 1969, the veto was lifted. Negotiations began in 1970 under the pro-European government of Edward Heath, who had to deal with disagreements relating to the Common Agricultural Policy and the UK's relationship with the Commonwealth of Nations. Nevertheless, two years later the accession treaties were signed so that Denmark, Ireland and the UK joined the Community effective 1 January 1973. The Norwegian people had finally rejected membership in a referendum on 25 September 1972.
The Treaties of Rome had stated that the European Parliament must be directly elected, however this required the Council to agree on a common voting system first. The Council procrastinated on the issue and the Parliament remained appointed, French President Charles de Gaulle was particularly active in blocking the development of the Parliament, with it only being granted Budgetary powers following his resignation.
Parliament pressured for agreement and on 20 September 1976 the Council agreed part of the necessary instruments for election, deferring details on electoral systems which remain varied to this day. During the tenure of President Jenkins, in June 1979, the elections were held in all the then-members (see 1979 European Parliament election). The new Parliament, galvanised by direct election and new powers, started working full-time and became more active than the previous assemblies.
Shortly after its election, the Parliament proposed that the Community adopt the flag of Europe design used by the Council of Europe. The European Council in 1984 appointed an ad hoc committee for this purpose. The European Council in 1985 largely followed the Committee's recommendations, but as the adoption of a flag was strongly reminiscent of a national flag representing statehood, was controversial, the "flag of Europe" design was adopted only with the status of a "logo" or "emblem".
The European Council, or European summit, had developed since the 1960s as an informal meeting of the Council at the level of heads of state. It had originated from then-French President Charles de Gaulle's resentment at the domination of supranational institutions (e.g. the Commission) over the integration process. It was mentioned in the treaties for the first time in the Single European Act (see below).
Enlargement, 1957 to 2013
Greece re-applied to join the community on 12 June 1975, following the restoration of democracy, and joined on 1 January 1981. Following on from Greece, and after their own democratic restoration, Spain and Portugal applied to the communities in 1977 and joined together on 1 January 1986. In 1987 Turkey formally applied to join the Community and began the longest application process for any country.
With the prospect of further enlargement, and a desire to increase areas of co-operation, the Single European Act was signed by the foreign ministers on the 17 and 28 February 1986 in Luxembourg and the Hague respectively. In a single document it dealt with reform of institutions, extension of powers, foreign policy cooperation and the single market. It came into force on 1 July 1987. The act was followed by work on what would be the Maastricht Treaty, which was agreed on 10 December 1991, signed the following year and coming into force on 1 November 1993 establishing the European Union, and paving the way for the European Monetary Union.
The EU absorbed the European Communities as one of its three pillars. The EEC's areas of activities were enlarged and were renamed the European Community, continuing to follow the supranational structure of the EEC. The EEC institutions became those of the EU, however the Court, Parliament and Commission had only limited input in the new pillars, as they worked on a more intergovernmental system than the European Communities. This was reflected in the names of the institutions, the Council was formally the "Council of the European Union" while the Commission was formally the "Commission of the European Communities".
However, after the Treaty of Maastricht, Parliament gained a much bigger role. Maastricht brought in the codecision procedure, which gave it equal legislative power with the Council on Community matters. Hence, with the greater powers of the supranational institutions and the operation of Qualified Majority Voting in the Council, the Community pillar could be described as a far more federal method of decision making.
The Treaty of Amsterdam transferred responsibility for free movement of persons (e.g., visas, illegal immigration, asylum) from the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) pillar to the European Community (JHA was renamed Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters (PJCC) as a result). Both Amsterdam and the Treaty of Nice also extended codecision procedure to nearly all policy areas, giving Parliament equal power to the Council in the Community.
In 2002, the Treaty of Paris which established the ECSC expired, having reached its 50-year limit (as the first treaty, it was the only one with a limit). No attempt was made to renew its mandate; instead, the Treaty of Nice transferred certain of its elements to the Treaty of Rome and hence its work continued as part of the EC area of the European Community's remit.
After the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009 the pillar structure ceased to exist. The European Community, together with its legal personality, was absorbed into the newly consolidated European Union which merged in the other two pillars (however Euratom remained distinct). This was originally proposed under the European Constitution but that treaty failed ratification in 2005.