Timeline of European integration
2010: Bosnia Herzegovina
Formerly war-torn, Bosnia Herzegovina expected to apply for EU membership.
2009: Lisbon Treaty ratified; 3 more countries apply to join EU
Irish voters endorse Lisbon Treaty in second referendum. Work on the treaty began in early 2002 and took seven and a half years to become law. It simplifies and reorganises the EU treaties, and creates a new President of the European Council and High Representative of Foreign Affairs. Also redistributes voting weights between the member states; extends qualified majority voting; and removes national vetoes in a number of areas, including climate change, energy security and emergency aid.
Albania, Iceland, and Serbia apply for EU membership.
2008: Lisbon Treaty rejected; Montenegro applies to join EU
Irish voters reject the Lisbon Treaty.
Montenegro applies for EU membership.
2007: Bulgaria and Romania join EU; Lisbon Treaty signed
Membership expands to 27 member states and 500 million citizens as two more formerly Communist countries join EU.
Compromise Lisbon Treaty signed following French and Dutch rejection of the Constitutional Treaty.
2005: Constitutional Treaty rejected; 3 more countries begin entry negotiations
French and Dutch voters reject the treaty signed in 2004. European leaders go back to the drawing board…
EU entry negotiations open with Croatia, Turkey, and Macedonia.
2004: 10 countries join the EU; European Constitutional Treaty signed
Massive eastward expansion of EU to incorporate the former Warsaw Pact countries and two Mediterranean island nations. Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia join the Union, expanding membership to 25 member states and 460 million citizens.
Constitutional Treaty signed in Rome to establish new Constitution for Europe. Treaty extends qualified majority voting, attempts to replace previous EU treaties with one text, and seeks to give legal force to social, economic, and political rights enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The treaty cannot become law, however, unless it is ratified by all member states.
2003: UK issues revised assessment of five-point test for monetary union
The UK Treasury states that there had been “significant progress on convergence” since 1997, but there remained “major structural differences”, such as in the housing market. It also asserts that UK flexibility had improved, but that it could not be confident that it was sufficient. Finally, it states that Euro membership would increase investment, benefit the City of London, and increase growth stability and employment, but only if convergence and flexibility were sufficient.
2002: Euro replaces national currencies in 12 member states; Nice Treaty ratified
National currencies of Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain replaced by a single currency: the Euro.
Irish voters back Nice Treaty in second referendum, so paving the way for eastward expansion.
2001: Nice Treaty signed; Irish electorate rejects it in referendum; Swiss voters reject EU
Nice Treaty signed. Treaty sets out to reform institutional structure to facilitate eastward expansion. Irish voters reject the treaty in a referendum…
Swiss voters reject opportunity to join the EU in a referendum.
2000: Denmark votes against joining Euro
Danish electorate votes against joining the Euro in a referendum; Denmark joins Sweden and the UK outside the Eurozone.
1999: Amsterdam Treaty ratified; Commission crisis
Amsterdam Treaty becomes law.
Entire European Commission resigns following allegations of fraud, mismanagement and nepotism.
1998: European Central Bank
A new European Central Bank is established to oversee monetary policy across the Eurozone.
1997: Amsterdam Treaty signed; UK formulates five-point test to assess preparedness for European monetary union
UK ends its social chapter opt-out of the Maastricht Treaty. Schengen Agreement expands to other EU nations, except Ireland and the UK. The Amsterdam Treaty also scraps national vetoes; gives increased power to the European Parliament; and marks the beginning of a common foreign and security policy.
New Labour government formulates five-point test to assess the UK’s readiness for European monetary union, namely:
- Are business cycles and economic structures compatible so that the UK and others could live comfortably with euro interest rates on a permanent basis?
- If problems emerge is there sufficient flexibility to deal with them?
- Would joining European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) create better conditions for firms making long-term decisions to invest in the UK?
- What impact would entry into EMU have on the competitive position of the UK’s financial services industry, particularly the City’s wholesale markets?
- In summary, will joining EMU promote higher growth, stability and a lasting increase in jobs?
[NB. UK would also need to meet the EU economic convergence criteria (the “Maastricht criteria”), including two years membership of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, before it could join the euro.]
UK Treasury states the economy is neither sufficiently converged nor sufficiently flexible to support euro membership.
1995: Schengen Agreement comes into effect; 3 countries join the EU
Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain drop internal border controls, and increase cooperation on immigration and asylum.
Austria, Finland, and Sweden join the EU, expanding membership to 15 member states and 375 million citizens. Norwegian voters reject opportunity to join Union after a second referendum.
1993: Maastricht Treaty ratified
The European Community becomes the European Union.
1992: Single European Market completed; Maastricht Treaty signed; UK withdraws from European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM)
Member states agree Maastricht Treaty and meet deadline for completion of the Single European Market (set by the Single European Act of 1986). European Community becomes the world’s largest trading area for the free movement of goods, capital, people and services.
UK withdraws from ERM following ‘Black Wednesday’. Country abandons path towards monetary union.
1991: Maastricht Treaty drafted
Treaty introduces the term ‘European Union’. Paves the way for monetary union and establishes new areas of co-operation on defence, justice and home affairs. It also introduces the concept of European Citizenship for the first time.
1990: UK enters ERM
The UK finally enters ERM and commits to peg the pound to other European currencies. Within the ERM, currencies prevented from fluctuating from one another by more than 6%.
UK generally acknowledged to have entered the ERM at too high a rate, i.e., at 2.95 Deutsche Marks to the pound. With UK inflation at three times the rate of Germany’s, interest rates at 15% and the Thatcherite boom of the 1980s about to turn into a spectacular bust, the currency markets begin predicting the pound’s early exit…
1990: Intergovernmental conferences launched
As a pre-cursor to the Maastricht Treaty, the European Council launches two intergovernmental conferences, one on Economic and Monetary Union, the other on Political Union.
1988: Regional Aid doubled
Member states commit to double allocations for ‘structural funds’ paid to poorer regions, as market liberalization seen to benefit more developed areas at the expense of less developed parts of the Community.
1987: Single European Act becomes effective; Morocco and Turkey apply for membership
Single European Act becomes effective on 1 July 1987. Member states have five years to complete the single market.
Morocco’s membership application is rejected, ostensibly because it is “part of Africa, not Europe”, but more likely because of the country’s poor background on human rights and democracy.
1986: Single European Act signed; Portugal and Spain join; European flag unveiled
Member states sign the Single European Act to modify the Treaty of Rome and complete the formation of a common market. Act abolishes national vetoes in areas related to the single market and increases powers of the European Parliament.
Two more former dictatorships, Spain and Portugal, join the European Economic Community (EEC), expanding membership to 12 member states and 325 million citizens.
European flag adopted by Community institutions.
1985: European Council agrees to amend Treaty of Rome; Jacques Delors becomes President of the European Commission
Jacques Delors enters the European stage and argues passionately for the removal of barriers to free trade and movement by the end of 1992. The European Council agrees to amend the Treaty of Rome to make this a reality.
1984: UK wins rebate; European Parliament passes draft treaty on the establishment of the European Union
Margaret Thatcher negotiates a rebate on funds the UK gives to the EEC.
European Parliament sets wheels in motion for the Maastricht Treaty and European political and economic union…
1981: Greece becomes 10th member
Formerly a dictatorship, Greece joins the EEC, expanding membership to 10 member states and 250 million people.
1979: European Parliament elections; ERM established
The first direct elections to the European Parliament take place.
European Monetary Union sets up the ERM and introduces a European currency unit, the ‘Ecu’, as a first step towards monetary union and the creation of a truly unified common market. All member states join the ERM, except the UK…
1975: UK referendum on continuing membership
UK electorate belatedly votes overwhelmingly in favour of remaining part of the EEC.
1973: UK, Denmark, and Ireland join the EEC
The three countries join the EEC, twelve years after first asking, expanding membership to 9 member states and 250 million people. Norwegian voters reject chance to join in referendum. Denmark and Ireland also hold referendums, but the UK does not…
1968: Customs union established
1963: French President Charles de Gaulle vetoes UK application to join
De Gaulle says the UK “lacks commitment” to European integration.
1961: UK, Demark, and Ireland apply to join EEC
The UK is beginning to suffer economically from being outside the EEC and decides to apply for membership.
1960: UK joins European Free Trade Area (EFTA)
Austria, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK set up EFTA. Purpose of group is to boost free trade, but unlike the EEC does not establish supranational institutions or uniform external tariffs.
1958: Treaty of Rome takes effect
The EEC is a reality as the Treaty of Rome takes effect. The treaty establishes institutional pillars of integration: a Commission; a Council of Ministers; an advisory parliamentary assembly (whose members initially are drawn from national parliaments); and a European Court of Justice to interpret the treaty and adjudicate disputes between member states.
1957: Treaty of Rome signed
Following the success of the European Coal and Steal Community, its six members sign the Treaty of Rome, which envisages: a ‘common market’; a customs union; free movement of goods, capital, people and services; a Common Agricultural Policy; and the joint development of nuclear energy.
1954: Paris Conference amends the Brussels Treaty, adds West Germany to NATO, and creates the Western European Union
Paris Conference adds West Germany to NATO. The seven western European members of NATO -- Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Italy, the Netherlands, West Germany, and the UK -- establish the Western European Union to coordinate defence strategy.
1952: European Coal and Steel Community begins; Turkey and Greece join NATO
Jean Monnet is appointed the first president of the ECSC High Authority. The wheels of European cooperation and integration are set in motion...
Turkey and Greece join NATO.
1951: Treaty of Paris signed
Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany sign the Treaty of Paris to pool coal and steel resources. The treaty establishes a supranational ‘High Authority’ (similar to the modern-day European Commission), to manage production, and a ‘Common Assembly’ (akin to the modern European Parliament). It also sets up a ‘Council of Ministers’ -- a forum for elected heads of government to meet and make decisions -- to provide a counterweight to the new ECSC institutions.
Initial size of the Community: six member states and 175 million people.
1950: Schuman Declaration; European Convention on Human Rights ratified
French foreign minister Robert Schuman reveals that France and Germany will cooperate on coal and steel production, and invites the rest of Europe to join them. He declares economic and political union will make future wars “not merely unthinkable but materially impossible”.
Council of Europe members ratify the European Convention on Human Rights.
1949: NATO and European Council of Europe established
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation comes into being. Treaty signed by Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the UK, and the USA.
Council of Europe established by the Treaty of London, signed by Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the UK. Council emphasizes legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural cooperation.
1948: Brussels Treaty
Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands join the mutual defence treaty signed the previous year by France and the UK.
1947: Dunkirk Treaty
The UK and France sign a defence treaty of alliance and mutual assistance.
1946: United States of Europe speech
Winston Churchill calls for a “United States of Europe” in a speech at Zurich University, to ensure peace and prosperity, and as a bulwark again Soviet despotism.
1939-45: Second World War ravages Europe
60 million people die and double that amount are displaced as a result of the war. By 1945, Europe is on its knees economically, as well as politically…
1919-38: Treaty of Versailles signed; League of Nations formed; Rise of Fascism
The Treaty of Versailles was signed following the First World War between the Entente Powers of France, Russia, and the UK and the Central Powers of Austria-Hungary, Germany, and the Ottoman Empire. The treaty placed full blame for the war and heavy sanctions on the defeated nations, which in turn contributed in no small part towards the development of Fascist movements across Europe in the late 1920s and 1930s.
The treaty also established a League of Nations, which was designed to provide a forum to prevent future conflicts worldwide, and particularly in Europe.
1914-18: First World War
40 million people die in “the war to end all wars”.
1889-1914: Inter-Parliamentary Union
Formed by European peace activists as the “international organisation of parliaments” to encourage governments to resolve international disputes by peaceful means.
1815-1914: Concert of Europe
The Concert of Europe describes the balance of power that existed in Europe following the demise of the Napoleonic Empire. Its original members were the Austrian, British, Prussian, and Russian Empires -- the Quadruple Alliance that defeated the First French Empire. France became established as a fifth member in the 1820s.
The Concert faltered dramatically after 1850, as its members went to war, first in the Crimea, then in Austria-Prussia, followed by France-Prussia. The Concert of Berlin restored order briefly in the 1870s, as the powers redrew the political map of the Balkans, but cooperation slowly began to erode in the later stages of the 19th Century and early 20th Century.
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