The European Union (EU) was borne out of a European need for unity in the aftermath of WWII, but the current EU is a long way from what it started out as. Here’s a brief guide to how the EU became what it is today, via a considerable number of treaties.
1948 – Hague Congress: Creation of the European Movement International, where the future leaders of Europe would study together.
1952 – Creation of the European Coal and Steel Community, which was ‘the first step in the federation of Europe’.
1957 – Creation of the European Economic Community, with the signing of the Treaty of Rome. Participants were Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany.
1967 – The Merger Treaty came into force, which paved the way for the creation of the European Union.
1973 – Expansion, which incorporated Britain, Ireland and Denmark.
1975 – UK referendum on whether to remain in the EU. We voted to remain (62% to 38%).
1979 – The first elections to the European Parliament were held.
1981 – Greece joined the EU.
1985 – Schengen Agreement was signed. This allowed for open borders and no passport control within the EU. The UK elected not to be part of this agreement.
1986 – The European Flag was used for the first time; Spain and Portugal joined.
1988 – Margaret Thatcher’s famous ‘no, no, no’ speech in response to increased European influence on British governmental systems.
1990 – After the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, East Germany unified with West Germany and subsequently became part of the EU.
1993 – The name ‘European Union’ came into force due to the 1992 signing of the Maastricht Treaty.
1995 – Austria, Finland and Sweden joined the EU.
2002 – The Euro replaced the previous currencies of 12 nations. These countries are known as the ‘Eurozone’.
2004 – The biggest enlargement of the EU to date, with 10 new nations joining, including Poland, Hungary and Cyprus.
2007 – Romania and Bulgaria became EU members.
2008 – The financial crash of this year saw several countries having to be bailed out over the next few years, including Greece (multiple times) Ireland, Portugal and Spain
2009 – The signing of the Lisbon Treaty merges all previous European organizations, such as the European Community, into one ‘European Union’.
2012 – The EU received the Nobel Peace Prize, for having ‘contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy, and human rights in Europe’.
2013 – Croatia becomes the 28th member of the EU.
2015 – Refugee Crisis sees vastly different responses from many European states
2016 – UK to hold a referendum on EU membership, 41 years after the last one.