The EU (European Union) came into being with a vision to end the brutal wars between the neighbouring 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 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 year, with more countries joining and other developments.
1960 – 1969
EU countries lifted off custom 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 a 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, huge sums of money were supposed to be transferred to the poorer regions in order to create infrastructure and jobs. In 1979, citizens were able to elect the members directly as European Parliament enhanced its participation in the EU affairs. 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 the ‘Single Market’ and facilitate the smooth trade flow across EU borders. Meanwhile, the Berlin Wall was pulled down, 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 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 defence and security matters. Three more members joined the EU – Sweden, Finland, and Austria. People were now able to easily move to different countries for studying.
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 considered to be disappearing between the Western and Eastern Europe in 2004, when at least 10 more countries joined the EU. In 2007, Romania and Bulgaria, too, joined 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 constantly. With the UK getting close to leaving the EU after the Brexit vote, there are some serious matters ahead of the EU.