The History of the EU

Written by Adilah Hameed. Edited by Bradley Bosson.

Being born as a citizen of the European Union has made me wonder why the European Union was created and how it established. Starting from the basics, The European Union is the biggest customs union in the world and has had far reaching benefits for many member states. Throughout the years many have argued that the benefits of being part of the EU outweigh the negatives. Although this article will not give a detailed description of the current economic; social; and political advantages and disadvantages of being part of the EU it will, however, discuss the chronological history of the European Union up until the modern day.

The breadth of the European Union’s history is importance to remember when discussing the liberation and many other factors. Taking you back into a time were neighbouring countries were attacking each other during the brutal time of World War Two. After the war had finished many politicians such as Winston Churchill had forwarded the idea of a United States of Europe, in 1946. Nevertheless, the Council of Europe was established in 1949. Two years later, the treaty of Paris was signed which had created the European Steel and Coal Community – this could prevent wars between the neighbouring nations participating, as these two elements were essential for war products.

In 1957, the treaty of Rome was signed which created European Economic Community. The aim was to bring out economic integration amongst the members of the community, by allowing free movement of capital and goods. The founding members were Belgium, France, Luxembourg, West Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

The expansion of the European Union occurred in 1973 where Britain joined the customs union alongside Denmark and Ireland. Enlargements then became a major policy for the Union and after the coming years many countries have become member states. Every time there was an enlargement of the EU, a treaty would be signed.

Nevertheless, adoption of the European flag and the Single European Act, which occurred in the late 80s, made the Union a single market. The Maastricht Treaty of 1992 established the customs union, with it going into full swing the following year. The Euro was also created in 1999, with all joining the currency apart from the United Kingdom and Denmark. Furthermore, in the same year, the European Central Bank was created.

From that point onwards the European Union had fully undergone different developing procedures but had allowed a peaceful union amongst historically rival countries. This led to the most unusual Nobel peace prize in 2012 granted to the European Union, for the advancement of peace and human rights in the Europe.

For many years Turkey has attempted to be part of the European Union. Its geographic position is advantageous as it would increase relates between Europe and Asia.  Nevertheless, Turkey has been rejected on many occasions to be part of the customs union, mainly because of their laws and policies. Culturally, Turkey does not follow the European norms and famously does not give women equal rights in the country. Another factor is that Turkey refuses to acknowledge the Armenian genocide in 1915.

Over the years the European Union has largely allowed the liberation of the free movement of people and goods; however, in Britain this is a whole different story. Although to many this may seem a largely negative thing, especially with the current affairs, it has allowed many citizens from Britain to equally move and live freely in and around different parts of the European Union. Many Brits have settled in Spain and Italy after their retirement, and seem to be benefiting more than what they would in Britain.  Finally, one should remember why the European Union was created, and looking into both the advantages and disadvantages it creates for the member states, when voting in the general election in May.