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From the Second World War to the Treaty of Rome

The European Economic Community (EEC) was created against the backdrop of post World War II Europe, with the aim of never again allowing human rights atrocities such as those committed by Germany.  Three Communities were founded in the 1950s: the Coal and Steel Community, the Atomic Energy Community and the Economic Community, with their own law-making institutions and flag.

Under the ‘Merger Treaty' which came into force in 1967 the three communities were merged into a single institutional structure.

Post World War II

The European Union was created against the backdrop of post World War II Europe. During a speech in Zurich in 1946, Winston Churchill spoke of the need to form a ‘European Family' or a ‘United States of Europe' to ensure peace and prosperity for Europe.

The first formal move towards the European Union (EU) was an agreement between France, Germany, Italy and Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg), to share control of coal and steel. This was known as ‘The Schuman Declaration' named after the French Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, who was its pioneer.

Treaty of Paris

In 1951 the six countries signed the Treaty of Paris, establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). The plan behind the Treaty was to pool coal and steel resources under the management of a supranational body in order to ensure that war in Europe was not ‘merely unthinkable, but materially impossible'. The underlying political agenda of the Treaty was also to strengthen Franco-German relations and make the two states dependent on each other in order to prevent future conflict. It was also hoped that the ECSC would lead to greater economic integration between Member States.

Other key European institutions emerged through the formation of the ECSC at this time; the “High Authority”, which would become the European Commission, was set up, and the Treaty also established the “European Assembly”, which later became the European Parliament (EP).

In 1955 the European flag of 12 gold stars on a blue background was created.

Treaty of Rome

In 1957 the Treaty of Rome  establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) was signed by ‘The Original Six'. The formation of the EEC was the first step toward the common market and had two main goals: firstly, to transform trade, industry and manufacturing in the Community; secondly, to take a step closer to a unified Europe.

Page last updated April 2013