Step­ping stones to the EURO­PEAN UNION


Irish Examiner - Supplement - - 60 YEARS OF EUROPEAN UNION -

May 9 is Europe Day, mark­ing the date in 1950 when French For­eign Min­is­ter Robert Schu­man pro­posed that Euro­pean na­tions unite their coal and steel pro­duc­tion.

This Euro­pean Coal and Steel Com­mu­nity marked the birth of ‘Europe’ as a po­lit­i­cal en­tity.

It aimed to make war be­tween mem­ber states im­pos­si­ble and en­cour­age world peace.

It be­gan the re­build­ing of the post-war Euro­pean econ­omy through grad­ual eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion.

It marked the tri­umph of in­ter­na­tional law and com­mon gover­nance over the nar­row na­tion­al­ist mo­ti­va­tions which had led to WWI and WWII.

Schu­man’s vi­sion for a peace­ful, united, pros­per­ous Europe seemed a dis­tant dream at a time when Europe was still suf­fer­ing the ef­fects of war and di­vided by the Iron Cur­tain. But to­gether we have come a long way:

In 1957, the Rome Treaty was signed by six Euro­pean coun­tries, es­tab­lish­ing the Euro­pean Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity which would evolve into the EU. This year, we cel­e­brate its 60th an­niver­sary.

In 1973, the Com­mu­ni­ties ex­panded for the first time to wel­come Ire­land, the UK and Den­mark.

Af­ter the fall of the Iron Cur­tain, the EU wel­comed the new democ­ra­cies of Eastern Europe, re­unit­ing the con­ti­nent af­ter decades of di­vi­sion.

To­day, the EU guar­an­tees the rights of over 500 mil­lion Euro­pean cit­i­zens, has the world’s largest sin­gle mar­ket and pro­motes peace and de­vel­op­ment glob­ally as the world’s big­gest aid donor.

French For­eign min­is­ter, Robert Schu­man (June 1886 – Septem­ber 1963)

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