How did the European Union EU was founded?

How did the European Union EU was founded?

In today’s article, we’ll be talking about early EU History, from the world wars until the European Community.

So let’s get to it.

When the First World War ended, it was dubbed ‘the war to end all wars.

After this, nobody would even THINK about fighting and… world war II happened.

It saw the deaths of over 50 million people, the Holocaust, and millions were left without homes.

This war changed world politics: After this war, all European powers were forced to give up their lucrative colonies over time and lost their status as world powers, after this war, an iron curtain split Europe into two opposing factions, after this war the threat of nuclear annihilation hung over everybody’s heads.

Europe could no longer afford another European war or else it might be turned into a smouldering crater.

So, how could the leaders of Europe somehow prevent this from happening again?

Winston Churchill came with the answer: create a ‘United States of Europe’.

The first step towards these goals was set in the Schuman Declaration in 1950.

It stipulated a plan to combine Europe politically and economically, starting with the coal and steel industries.

Why coal and steel?

Because they were the backbone of war: they were needed to build tanks, ships, and guns.

If these markets were combined between countries, it would tie your war production directly with that of your enemy.

This made war not only unthinkable but also impossible”.

And this union would have to start with the two biggest rivals of Europe: Germany and France.

And so in 1951, they signed the Treaty of Paris, a treaty that would mark the beginning of the European Union.

4 more countries joined the call for peace.

Along with Germany and France, there were The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Italy, forming the European Coal and Steel Community.

The Coal and Steel Community reduced tariffs on coal and steel, increased the trade of these goods tenfold between the member countries, and created over 100.000 jobs.

But it also had its failures.

One of the goals was to create an integrated energy market, not just one for coal but also to include oil, gas, and nuclear energy but only achieved collaboration on nuclear.

How did the European Union EU was founded?

The ECSC wanted to prevent large corporations from dominating the coal and steel market, as this had helped Hitler rise to power, it did so by preventing cartels from forming, and while this action did assure lower prices for its citizens, large corporations still emerged if they were simply more competitive than their rivals.

As the years passed it became clear that the Coal and Steel Community was becoming outdated and two new ideas sprung up: France wanted to create an atomic energy community so that the 6 countries could work together to generate nuclear energy for its citizens.

Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and The Netherlands wanted a common market; where goods, services, and people could be exchanged without tariffs or border controls.

How did the European Union EU was founded?

So how did they reconcile these two ideas?

Well, they did both of course!

The European Atomic Energy Community oversaw the nuclear energy market.

And the European Economic Community, or EEC, oversaw economic integration.

The EEC’s first goal was to create a common price level for agricultural goods and create a customs union.

You might be wondering ‘what the hell is a customs union?’

Basically, it means that the trade barriers between the 6 EEC countries would be removed on certain products but if anyone from outside the EEC wanted to trade with these countries, they would be paying the same tariff in each country.

So, let’s say, for example, you are a French baker who wants to sell your croissants to Germany.

Well, just for crossing that border your customer has to pay an extra tax, a tariff, just for buying a FRENCH croissant.

But now that tariff was removed between the two countries, there would be no extra tax to pay for your croissant and you would pay as much as you would for a German croissant.

It also meant that if an English baker wanted to sell his croissants to either Germany or France, then in both countries the same tariff would apply, meaning that neither country has an advantage based on import taxes.

And thus, making it easier for foreign companies to do business in the EEC.

Over the years Europe became ever closer: Economies became more interconnected, governments worked together, and trade between the countries was increasing.

But there was one person with whom this development didn’t sit right: President Charles de Gaulle, the war hero who led the French government-in-exile during WWII.

De Gaulle was a French nationalist and he believed France was handing over too much of its power to the EEC.

You see, up until this point whenever countries decided for more integration, the 6 members of the EEC would give authority over such matters to the European institutions, basically creating a sort of European government.

This was facilitated by the USA and the United Kingdom who helped guide Europe towards more integration.

And it’s especially this last part that just did not sit well with De Gaulle: why would the UK, a country in decline who was losing more and more of its colonies every year, and the USA, a country an ocean away, determine French affairs?

How did the European Union EU was founded?

De Gaulle proposed a new course for Europe: The UK, the USA, and NATO would have no more power in Europe.

Power would be taken away from the EEC, the coal and steel union, and the European atomic agency and turned back to the governments of the member states.

And France would retake its role as a superpower in the world by dominating this new western Europe.

You can imagine how the rest of Europe were not so eager to replace the USA with France.

“uhh yeah, did you notice how half of Europe is gobbled up by this giant superpower right across our borders?


Stop trying to rule Europe!”

After years of negotiations, President De Gaulle pulled out of the EEC in 1965, practically shutting it down.

The EEC needed a unanimous decision on any action it took and without France, there would always be one vote missing.

So, the countries of Europe did what they do best: compromise.

They agreed that France would take their seat in the EEC again if 1.

Any EEC country would be allowed to veto any EEC plans if it was a ‘very importation national interest’ even if the majority voted in favour 2.

Creating a ‘Common Agricultural Policy in the EU that set the prices for fruits, vegetables, sugar, and cereals.

And 3.

The EEC must ask approval on certain important topics from the member countries themselves.

And so, the idea of a united Europe had overcome its first obstacle.

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AUTHORDeepa Chandravanshi

Deepa Chandravanshi is the founder of The Magadha Times & Chandravanshi. Deepa Chandravanshi is a writer, Social Activist & Political Commentator.


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