The Modern-Day EUThroughout the 1990s, the “single market” idea allowed easier trade, more citizen interaction on issues such as the environment and security, and easier travel through the different countries.Even though the countries of Europe had various treaties in place prior to the early 1990s, this time is generally recognized as the period when the modern day European Union arose due to the Treaty of Maastricht on European Union which was signed on February 7, 1992 and put into action on November 1, 1993.The Treaty of Maastricht identified five goals designed to unify Europe in more ways than just economically. The goals are:1 To strengthen the democratic governing of participating nations.2 To improve the efficiency of the nations.3 To establish an economic and financial unification.4 To develop the “Community social dimension.”5 To establish a security policy for involved nations.In order to reach these goals, the Treaty of Maastricht has various policies dealing with issues such as industry, education, and youth. In addition, the Treaty put a single European currency, the euro, in the works to establish fiscal unification in 1999. In 2004 and 2007, the EU expanded, bringing the total number of member states as of 2008 to 27.In December 2007, all of the member nations signed the Treaty of Lisbon in hopes of making the EU more democratic and efficient to deal with climate change, national security, and sustainable development.
The precursor to the European Union was established after World War II in the late 1940’s in an effort to unite the countries of Europe and end the period of wars between neighbouring countries. These nations began to officially unite in 1949 with the Council of Europe. In 1950 the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community expanded the cooperation. The six nations involved in this initial treaty were Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Today these countries are referred to as the “founding members.”
During the 1950’s, the Cold War, protests, and divisions between Eastern and Western Europe showed the need for further European unification. In order to do this, the Treaty of Rome was signed on March 25, 1957, thus creating the European Economic Community and allowing people and products to move throughout Europe. Throughout the decades additional countries joined the community.
In order to further unify Europe, the Single European Act was signed in 1987 with the aim of eventually creating a “single market” for trade. Europe was further unified in 1989 with the elimination of the boundary between Eastern and Western Europe – the Berlin Wall.