What year did the European Union start?

History of the EU

How did the European Union come about?

The forerunners of the European Union (EU) as we know it today were founded in the previous century with the aim of being one after the devastating Second World War permanently peaceful coexistence of the states and peoples on the European continent.

The starting point for the successful history of the EU was Speech by the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman on May 9, 1950, in which he presented a plan to place the coal and steel production of the former war opponents France and Germany, which are relevant for the armaments industry, under a joint authority. Today this historic event is commemorated annually on May 9th, "Europe Day".

With the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) by the founding states France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Italy, the foundation stone of today's EU was laid in 1952.

In 1957 the 6 countries signed the "Treaty of Rome", with which in 1958 the founding of the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) took place and a joint parliamentary assembly, a Court of Justice of the European Communities (ECSC, EEC and EURATOM) were established.

With the so-called merger agreement in 1967, the European Communities also merged their other organs (commissions and councils of ministers) and merged to form the European Community.

The first expansion took place in 1973 ("Northern expansion"). With the new members Denmark, Great Britain and Ireland, the European Community now had 9 member states.

1979 it became European monetary system (EMS) based on a European currency unit. In the same year the direct election of the European Parliament took place for the first time.

The so-called Southern expansion The European Community took place in 2 stages: Greece joined in 1981, Spain and Portugal in 1986.

With the Single European Act (EEA) in 1987 a comprehensive amendment to the "Treaty of Rome" took place. The EEA envisaged the gradual completion of the common internal market by 1992. It renewed the areas of responsibility, powers and decision-making structures of the European Community.

The one that came into force in 1993 Maastricht Treaty was a profound change in the treaties of the European Community. The European Economic Community was expanded to include a political dimension. This was followed by the creation of the European Union, consisting of the European Communities. The Maastricht Treaty established, among other things, a common foreign and security policy (CFSP) and the creation of European citizenship. The establishment of full economic and monetary union and the introduction of a common currency for 1999 were also agreed.

1995 stepped Austria, Finland and Sweden joined the EU - the EU now had 15 member states.

Another reform took place in 1998 with the Treaty of Amsterdamwhich integrates issues of the free movement of persons and controls at external borders ("Schengen Agreement"), asylum law and immigration into EU law.

On January 1, 2002, 12 of the then 15 member states (including Austria) carried out the Euro a.

With the Treaty of Nice, which came into force in 2003, was intended to prepare the EU in institutional terms for the forthcoming enlargement to include the states of Southern, Central and Eastern Europe.

On May 1, 2004, 10 states joined the EU: This was the largest and most comprehensive wave of enlargement of the EU so far, with which it grew to 25 member states (also known as "Eastern enlargement" for short). The division of Europe that had lasted for decades was finally overcome. Since that day - with the exception of Switzerland and Liechtenstein - all of Austria's neighboring countries have been members of the EU.

When the Treaty of Nice was signed, it was already concluded that this treaty was not sufficient to solve the challenges of the upcoming rounds of enlargement. A convention was therefore set up to work out an amendment to the treaty, which was eventually incorporated into the treaty on a Constitution for Europe flowed. This was decided and signed in 2004. However, due to the negative referendums in the Netherlands and France in 2005, the treaty ultimately came into force.

In 2007 Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU.

In 2009, instead of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, the Treaty of Lisbon came into force, which contains extensive changes compared to the previous treaties. These include, for example, the creation of the position of President of the European Council and High Representative of the Union for Foreign and Security Policy, who is also Vice-President of the European Commission.

In 2013, Croatia was the last EU member to join the EU. The EU currently has 28 member states.

In 2016, the people of Great Britain voted in a referendum to leave the EU. After the withdrawal agreement was repeatedly rejected by the British Parliament, the European Council decided, at the request of the United Kingdom, to extend the withdrawal period until January 31, 2020. After early elections to the UK House of Commons on December 12, 2019, the House of Commons approved the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom. The withdrawal agreement officially came into force on January 31, 2020, meaning that the United Kingdom is no longer a member of the European Union. The European Union has had 27 members since then.

Austria's way into the EU

With Austria's accession to the European Union on January 1, 1995, a long process of Austrian integration efforts came to an end. Against the background of permanent neutrality and the "connection ban" laid down in the Austrian State Treaty, Austria was initially denied participation in the European integration process within the framework of the European Communities. Austria therefore initially saw its future in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which was founded in 1960 together with Great Britain, Sweden and Switzerland. With the establishment of a free trade zone for commercial and industrial products in 1973, a first successful bridge between Austria and the European Community (EC) was achieved.

In the light of the increasing relaxation of the East-West conflict, Austria decided to strive for full membership in the EC. On July 7, 1989, Foreign Minister Alois Mock presented the then President of the European Commission, Jacques Delors, with Austria's application for admission to the European Communities ("Letter to Brussels"). After the Council of the EC had approved the accession procedure in July 1989 and the European Commission had approved the admission of Austria in July 1991, the accession negotiations began on February 1, 1993. On April 19, 1994, these accession negotiations were successfully concluded. On June 12, 1994 around two thirds (66.58 percent) of Austrians voted in a referendum for Austria's membership in the EU (a formal vote was taken on an accession federal constitutional law). The Accession Treaty and the Final Act were signed on June 24, 1994 in Corfu. On January 1, 1995 Austria finally joined the EU - together with Sweden and Finland.

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