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Formation of the european union


  • End of World War II

    End of World War II
    World War II ends in Europe. Millions of people around the world take to the streets to celebrate ‘Victory in Europe Day’, marking the end of the deadliest military conflict in history in which 60 million people died.
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  • The six founding countries

    The six founding countries
    Schuman’s vision starts to take shape when six countries — Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands — sign a treaty to create a European institution that would pool and manage coal and steel production. With these countries deciding together what to do with Europe’s coal and steel, no single nation can build weapons without the other nations knowing about it.
  • Court of Justice of the EU

    Court of Justice of the EU
    The Court of Justice of the European Union — the EU’s highest legal authority — is created. Its job is to ensure that EU law is interpreted and applied in the same way in every EU country, and that countries and EU institutions abide by EU laws. The Court of Justice is based in Luxembourg.
  • Treaty of Rome

    Treaty of Rome
    Building on the success of the coal and steel treaty, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands expand cooperation to other economic sectors. They sign the Treaties of Rome, creating the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), and the European Economic Community or ‘common market’, allowing people, goods and services to move freely across borders.
  • European Social Fund

    The European Social Fund is established with the aim of improving job opportunities for workers and raising their standard of living. Today it is an important driver of job creation, promoting better education and more modern public administrations, and helps to improve living standards for children and their families.
  • Walter Hallstein

    Walter Hallstein
    Walter Hallstein becomes the first President of the European Commission, a post he holds until 30 June 1967.
  • European Parliament

    European Parliament
    Today’s European Parliament traces its origins back to the Common Assembly of ‘representatives of the people’ of the European Coal and Steel Community. After the creation of the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community, it expands to cover all three communities. The new European Parliamentary Assembly, made up of 142 members, meets for the first time in Strasbourg in 1958. It changes its name to the European Parliament on 30 March 1962.
  • EU languages

    EU languages
    Adoption of “Regulation no. 1”, regulation setting out the official and working languages to be used in the European Community’s correspondence, as well as for publishing legislation and other documents. This milestone document, amended to reflect successive enlargements, still applies to the European Union today.
  • European Free Trade Association

    European Free Trade Association
    The European Free Trade Association is set up by a number of European countries that are not part of the European Economic Community (Austria, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom) to reduce barriers and increase trade of goods and services with each other. Today, its members are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
  • Building of the Berlin Wall

    Building of the Berlin Wall
    The communist authorities in East Germany begin to build a high wall through the centre of Berlin to prevent their citizens from escaping to a freer life in the West. It becomes an iconic symbol of the Cold War.
  • New European Commission headquarters

    New European Commission headquarters
    The Berlaymont office building, the European Commission’s headquarters, was originally built in 1967, on the former site of a convent and boarding school run by the Sisters of Berlaymont (Dames de Berlaymont). It was later refurbished and the newly renovated building was unveiled on 21 October 2004. The European Commission President offices occupy the 13th floor.
  • Merger Treaty

    Merger Treaty
    The Merger Treaty comes into effect, creating a single Council of Ministers and a single Commission for the European Communities (the European Coal and Steel Community, the European Economic Community, and the European Atomic Energy Community). They already share a Parliamentary Assembly and a Court of Justice.
  • First EU enlargement

    First EU enlargement
    Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom join the European Communities, marking the first enlargement. Together with Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, they bring the membership to nine. Following a referendum, Norway decides not to join.
  • Creation of European Council

    Creation of European Council
    The European Council is created with the intention of establishing an informal forum for discussion between heads of state or government.
  • First European Elections

    First European Elections
    For the first time, European citizens can vote for who they want to represent them in the European Parliament. Before the introduction of direct elections, MEPs were appointed by the national parliaments of each Member State. The European elections have been held every 5 years since then. You have the right to vote at 18 in all EU countries except Austria, Malta (16), and Greece (17).
  • Greece joins the European Communities

    Greece joins the European Communities
    Greece becomes the 10th country to join the European Communities, now known as the European Union.
  • First European Year

    First European Year
    The EU launches the first of a series of year-long campaigns to raise awareness of certain topics, encourage debate and change attitudes. The focus for the first European Year is small and medium-sized businesses and the craft industry, an important sector of the EU economy. During the course of many of these ‘European Years’, extra funding is provided for local, national and cross-border projects that address the year’s special topic.
  • Greenland leaves the European Communities

    Greenland leaves the European Communities
    Between 1973 and 1985, Greenland was part of the European Communities (today called the European Union). Following a referendum held in 1982, it withdrew from the EU but remains associated with it as an Overseas Country and Territory.
  • Schengen Agreement

    A small village in Luxembourg gives its name to the Schengen Agreement that gradually allows people to travel without having their passports checked at the borders. It is signed on 14 June 1985 by Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. 26 countries currently make up the Schengen area.
  • Spain and Portugal join the European Communities

    Spain and Portugal join the European Communities
    Spain and Portugal join the European Communities, bringing the total number of members to twelve.
  • European flag

    European flag
    The European flag is raised for the first time in front of the Berlaymont building — the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels — to the music of the European anthem. The flag is made up of 12 golden stars on a blue background. The number of stars never changes. They stand for the ideals of unity, solidarity and harmony among the peoples of Europe. The flag flies above many parliaments, municipal buildings, parks and monuments all over Europe.
  • European Parliament building in Brussels

    European Parliament building in Brussels
    The oldest European Parliament building in Brussels, which was named after its first President and one of the EU’s founders, Belgian politician Paul-Henri Spaak, opened in 1993. The largest building in the European Parliament complex, dedicated to another EU founder — Italian politician Altiero Spinelli — opened in 1998. In 2008, two new buildings were completed. The Parliament, its committees and plenary meetings are all open to the public.
  • Maastricht Treaty

    Maastricht Treaty
    The Maastricht Treaty, named after the Dutch city in which it was signed, comes into force. It is a major milestone of the European integration. It formally creates the European Union and paves the way for the creation of the single European currency: the euro. It also gives the European Parliament a bigger role in decision-making and the power to approve the Commission as a whole.
  • Austria, Finland and Sweden join the EU

    Austria, Finland and Sweden join the EU
    Austria, Finland and Sweden join the EU, increasing its membership to 15.
  • European Central Bank

    European Central Bank
    The European Central Bank, which works with the national central banks of all EU Member States and is responsible for managing the euro, is created. Its main aim is to keep prices stable in order to support economic growth and job creation. It is based in Frankfurt, Germany.
  • EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights

    EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights
    The rights of every individual in the EU were established at different times, in different ways and in different forms. For this reason, the EU decided to include them all in a single document: the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Signed by EU leaders on 7 December 2000 it guarantees rights to EU citizens and residents. These include respect for privacy and family life, protection of personal data, the right to marry and have a family, and the right to receive an education.
  • Treaty of Nice

    Treaty of Nice
    The Treaty of Nice is signed by the heads of the EU’s 15 Member States at a meeting in this French city. It changes the EU’s decision-making process so that the European Union will be ready for countries from Eastern Europe to join when ready. The European Parliament’s legislative and supervisory powers are increased. The treaty comes into force on 1 February 2003.
  • The euro

    Euro notes and coins become the legal currency in 12 EU countries. Printing, minting and distributing them is a major logistical operation. More than 80 billion coins are involved. While euro coins have a common side giving the value, each country has its own design on the other side. Using a Finnish (or any other) euro coin to buy a Madrid metro ticket is something we soon take for granted. 19 countries currently use the euro.
  • Bulgaria and Romania join the EU

    Bulgaria and Romania join the EU
    Bulgaria and Romania join the European Union, bringing its membership to 27. Irish becomes the 21st official language and Bulgarian and Romanian bring the number to 23.
  • Tougher border security measures

    130 people are killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris. Shortly afterwards, EU ministers agree on tougher border security measures around the passport-free Schengen area.
  • Europa building

    Europa building
    The first meeting in the newly built home for the European Council and the Council of the European Union, the Europa building takes place on 16 January 2017, when the EU’s foreign ministers came together to discuss the prospects for the Middle East peace process.
  • Closer ties between the EU and Vietnam

    Closer ties between the EU and Vietnam
    The European Parliament approves a new trade agreement between the EU and Vietnam. It is one of the most ambitious agreements between the EU and a developing country and also includes measures to protect the climate as well as rules on workers’ and human rights.