The EU (European Union) came into being with a vision to end the brutal wars between the neighboring countries, precipitated by the second world war. In the 1950s, there was a deadly cold war going on. In order to bring peace, the European Coal and Steel Community was created to tie the European countries politically and economically in 1950. There was a total of 6 founding countries then, namely The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Germany, France, and Belgium. The ‘Common Market’ or EEC (European Economic Community) was created as a result of the Treaty of Rome in 1957. The EU went through several transformations over the years, with more countries joining and other developments.
1960 – 1969
EU countries lifted off customs duties while trading with one another. This helped the economy evolve in the 1960s. In order to make sure there’s enough and even surplus food, they all agreed to have joint control over the production of food.
1970 – 1979
On January 1, 1973, more nations joined the EU, namely, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Denmark. According to the regional policy of the EU, enormous sums of money were supposed to be transferred to the deprived regions to create infrastructure and jobs. In 1979, citizens were able to elect the members directly as the European Parliament enhanced its participation in the affairs of the EU. The EU also increased its efforts to fight pollution in the 1970s.
1980 – 1989
In 1981, Greece joined the EU, becoming the tenth member of the group. The Single European Act got signed in 1986. Its main goal was to create a ‘Single Market’ and facilitate the smooth trade flow across EU borders. Meanwhile, the Berlin Wall was pulled down, and West & East Germany got united towards the end of 1990.
1990 – 1999
As communism faded across eastern and central Europe, Europeans got closer. The 1990s was also the decade of treaties. Two important treaties – the Treaty of Amsterdam and the ‘Maastricht’ Treaty on the European Union got signed during this decade. People were now more conscious about the environment’s protection, and now they could all come together to deal better with defense and security matters. Three more members joined the EU – Sweden, Finland, and Austria in 1995. People were now easily able to move to different countries for studies.
2000 – 2009
Euro became the common currency for many countries in Europe. This was the decade when many countries adopted it as a currency. The political tensions were finally starting to disappear between Western and Eastern Europe in 2004 when at least ten more countries joined the EU. In 2007, Romania and Bulgaria, too, joined the EU. In September 2008, the global economy got hit by a huge financial crisis. All the EU countries collectively ratify the Treaty of Lisbon. This helped the EU countries in having better working methods and modern institutions.
2010 – today
In the wake of economic crises, the EU established the ‘Banking Union’ to help the countries and ensure they have reliable banks. The EU was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012. In 2013, Croatia joined the EU, becoming its 28th member. However, the EU is facing some problems lately. There has been a high number of refugees in Europe owing to the religious unrest in the Middle East, forcing people to flee and seek shelter in Europe. The EU also gets targeted by terrorist attacks quite often. In a historic referendum, held on June 23, 2016, the UK decided to leave the EU. The United Kingdom is the first-ever member state to leave the EU. In March 2017, the UK’s prime minister triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which set in motion the exit process of the UK from the EU in the following years. Finally, on January 31, 2020, at 11 P.M. (GMT), the UK left the EU.