Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Landmark dates for the European Union

Landmark dates for the European Union

21.03.2007 - 09:23 CET | By Honor Mahony
After World War II – French economist Jean Monnet develops his plans to ease tensions between France and Germany as they square up over control of the steel-and coal-rich Ruhr region.

1950 – French foreign minister Robert Schuman makes his seminal declaration on France and Germany setting up a common coal and steel community, harnessing them together economically so that another war would become "not merely unthinkable but materially impossible."

1951 – The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) is established by the Treaty of Paris. Six countries – Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg – are members.

1955 – The Messina declaration by the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg in 1955 was a statement of intention to create the European economic community. It paved the way for the signing of the Treaty of Rome.

1957 – The six members of the ECSC sign the Treaty of Rome establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).

1958 – The principles of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are set by the Stresa conference and come into force in 1962.

1963 – "Non!" French President Charles De Gaulle vetoes British membership, saying he believes the country is not committed enough to European integration.

1967 – ECSC, EEC and Euratom merge to form the European Community (EC).

1973 – The UK, Ireland and Denmark join the European Community. Norway votes against joining.

1979 – Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) is formed, linking the German mark, French and Belgian francs, Dutch guilder, Danish crown, Irish punt and Italian lira within narrow bands.

1981 – Greece joins the European Community (10th member).

1985 – Jacques Delors becomes president of the European Commission. His close ties with the leaders of France and Germany made it one of the most dynamic times for the bloc.

1986 – Spain and Portugal join the European Community. The European Flag – blue background with 12 golden stars – is unveiled.

1987 – Single European Act comes into force. It set 1992 as the goal for achieving a common market.

1990 – After the fall of the Berlin Wall and end of communist rule, the new democracies of central and eastern Europe express a wish to join the European Community.

1991 – The Maastricht treaty on Economic and Monetary Union is signed. The European Community becomes the European Union. It paves the way to monetary union, introduces the idea of European citizenship, allowing voting in municipal elections in any member state. It also introduces the so-called three pillars of the European Union (the European Communities pillar, the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Justice and Home Affairs pillar).

1993 – The Maastricht Treaty comes into force – having been only narrowly approved in France and only after a second referendum in Denmark which secured a monetary union opt-out.

1995 – Austria, Sweden and Finland join the EU. Norway again votes no to joining the bloc (1994). France, Spain, Germany, Portugal and the Benelux countries are the first to drop internal border controls as part of the Schengen Agreement. Ireland and the UK remain outside the open borders agreement.

1997 – EU leaders agree to open entry talks with six candidates: Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Estonia and Cyprus. Five other ex-communist states - Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria and Romania - are told they must make more progress before opening negotiations.

1997 – Amsterdam Treaty creates the post of EU High Representative for foreign and security policy, opens the way to more co-operation in justice and home affairs as well as the possibility, under strict conditions, for member states to go ahead and cooperate further if they want.

1999 – The EU agrees to start accession talks with Romania, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Malta. It also agrees to recognise Turkey as an applicant country.

2000 – An acrimonious summit in France agrees the Nice Treaty on institutional reforms to prepare the bloc for enlargement – but even before the ink was dry, it was generally agreed that it would only be a stopgap treaty with further EU reform needed. It goes into force in 2003 after having first been rejected, then accepted, by Ireland.

2002 – The euro becomes the currency in 12 countries – Denmark, Sweden and the UK keep their national currencies.

2004 – Ten new member states – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Malta and Cyprus – join the EU. The EU constitution is signed, it introduces an EU foreign minister, gives the European Parliament more power and changes the EU decision-making system.

2005 – The EU constitution is rejected by French and Dutch voters in referendums – putting the document into political limbo.

2005 – The EU opens membership talks with both Croatia – expected to join in 2009/10 - and Turkey - not expected to join for a decade.

2007 – Bulgaria and Romania join the EU. Slovenia becomes the 13th member state to take on the single currency.

2007 and beyond – negotiations on a new-look EU treaty are still under way. The name 'constitution' is likely to be dropped however, proving too much to swallow for several countries.
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