Monday, 23 January 2012

History of European Integration II:
Rome Treaties

The second short text on the European Union is about the Rome Treaties, a milestone towards integration.

Signed in 1957 by the same six countries and entered into force on 1 January 1958, the two Treaties of Rome founded the European Economic Community and Euratom. It is in the former that for the first time, we see the ‘four freedoms’ that became crucial to European integration: the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital. 1 In other words, this is where a common market — in principle within all trade areas, not just coal and steel — is established and converting the territories of the six member states into a single customs area without internal customs borders and a common external customs border.

Although the base was already established with the European Coal and Steel Community, it is also with the Treaties of Rome that most of the European institutions we know today were set up:
‘The institutional balance is based on a triangle consisting of the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament, all three of which are called upon to work together. The Council prepares the standards, the Commission drafts the proposals and the Parliament plays an advisory role. Another body is also involved in the decision-making procedure in an advisory capacity, namely the Economic and Social Committee.’ 2
All subsequent treaties increasing European integration are amendments to the Treaties of Rome. Even more than the Treaty of Paris which marked the first steps, they can thus be regarded as the base foundation of what is now the European Union of 27 countries.

by Bjørn Clasen, 2011

1 The Europa website: Summaries of EU legislation — Treaty establishing the European Economic Community, EEC Treaty — original text (non-consolidated version)
2 Ibidem: ‘Institutions’, first paragraph

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