The enlargement of the European Union
Europe at the service of peace and democracy
Community Europe has celebrated its 50th anniversary.
On 9 May 1950, Robert Schuman made history by putting to the Federal Republic of Germany, and to the other European countries, the idea of creating a Community of pacific interests. He began a completely new process in international relations by proposing to old nations to together recover, by exercising jointly their sovereignty, the influence which each of them was incapable of exercising alone.
The construction of Europe has since then moved forward every day. It represents the most significant undertaking of the 20th century and a new hope at the dawn of the new century. It derives its momentum from the far-sighted and ambitious project of the founding fathers who emerged from the second world war driven by the resolve to establish between the peoples of Europe the conditions for a lasting peace.
A historic success
As Europe approaches the dawn of the third millennium, a look back over the 50 years of progress towards European integration shows that the European Union is a historic success. Countries which were hitherto enemies, today share a common currency, the euro, and manage their economic and commercial interests within the framework of joint institutions.
Europeans now settle their differences through peaceful means, applying the rule of law and seeking conciliation. The spirit of superiority and discrimination has been banished from relationships between the Member States, which have entrusted to the four Community institutions, the Council, the Parliament, Commission and the Court of Justice, the responsibility for mediating their conflicts, for defining the general interest of Europeans and for pursuing common policies.
Economic integration every day highlights the need for and takes people closer to political union. At international level, the European Union is wielding increasing influence commensurate with its economic importance, the standard of living of its citizens, its place in diplomatic, commercial and monetary forums.
The European Community derives its strength from common values of democracy and human rights, which rally its peoples, and it has preserved the diversity of cultures and languages and the traditions which make it what it is. Its transatlantic solidarity and the attractiveness of its model has enabled a united Europe to withstand the pressure of totalitarianism and to consolidate the rule of law.
The European Community stands as a beacon for the expectations of countries near and far which watch the Union’s progress with interest as they seek to consolidate their re-emerging democracies or rebuild a ruined economy.
Today, the Union of the 15 Member States is negotiating the next wave of membership with 10 countries of central and eastern Europe, and with Malta and Cyprus. At a later stage, other countries of former Yugoslavia or which belong to the European sphere will in turn ask to join. The taking on board by the applicant countries of the acquis communautaire, and more generally of the major objectives of the European Union, is central to enlargement negotiations. For the first time in its long history, the continent is preparing to become reunified in peace and freedom.
Such developments are momentous in terms of world balance and will have a huge impact on Europe’s relations with the United States, Russia, Asia and Latin America.
The key dates of the European Enlargement
1945 – After the Second World War Europe was destroyed. The main problems facing european states were security and economic reconsrtruction. That’s where the discussion on any integration of Europe started. The ideas of Kudenhove-Calergi were recollected.
1950 – R. Schuman proposed to pool coal and steel resources of France and FRG.
1951 – The Paris treaty was signed: France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg established the European Coal and Steel Community.