Timeline of the EU


In the aftermath of WWII, Winston Churchill delivered a speech in the University of Zurich calling for a ‘United States of Europe’. His aim was to eradicate the spoils brought on by nationalism as was witnessed in the Second World War.



Robert Schuman, the French Foreign Minister, launched the ‘Schuman Plan’. The Declaration called for France and Germany to link their coal and steel industries as these materials were vital for war.



If Europe is to be saved from infinite misery, and indeed from final doom, there must be this act of faith in the European family, this act of oblivion against all crimes and follies of the past.


Winston Churchill



Following the Schuman Declaration, a supranational community was created with the aim of regulating the industrial production of coal and steel. The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was established by the Treaty of Paris and was signed by Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Western Germany, Italy, and France.



The six aforementioned countries signed the Treaty of Rome which established the European Economic Community (EEC, later known as the European Community) that formed the common market and customs union. The EEC’s launch of the common market allowed for the free movement of goods, capital, services, and labour.


La solidarité de production qui sera ainsi nouée manifestera que toute guerre entre la France et l’Allemagne devient non seulement impensable, mais matériellement impossible




The United Kingdom attempted to join the EEC but was vetoed by the French President, Charles de Gaulle.



The EEC, ECSC, and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) were merged and gained a common set of institutions under the Treaty of Brussels.



The UK, Ireland and Denmark ascended into the European Community (EC).



The European Monetary System (EMS) called for nations in the EEC to link their currencies in order to prevent monetary instability brought on by fluctuations from differing currencies. It introduced the currency unit (ECU) as well as the exchange rate mechanism (ERM) whereby nations agreed upon a band to keep their foreign exchange rates in. All member nations joined apart from the UK.



Greece joined the EC.



The Schengen Agreement was signed by Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, West Germany and France.



Spain and Portugal joined the EC.

The European Flag was introduced.

Countries in the European Union

Date of Accession Countries The Euro (€)  Schengen Area
1958 Netherlands


Yes Yes


Yes Yes


Yes Yes


Yes Yes


Yes Yes


Yes Yes
1973 Denmark


No Yes


Yes No
United Kingdom


No No
1981 Greece


Yes Yes
1986 Portugal


Yes Yes


Yes Yes
1995 Austria


Yes Yes


Yes Yes


No Yes
2004 Cyprus


Yes No
Czech Republic


No Yes


Yes Yes


No Yes


Yes Yes


Yes Yes


Yes Yes


Yes Yes


No Yes


Yes Yes
2007 Bulgaria


No No


No No
2013 Croatia


No No

Accession of New Member States


The Treaty on the European Union (TEU) allows any European country to apply for membership if it respects the democratic values of the EU and is committed to promoting them. The Copenhagen Criteria (1993) sets the standards that a nation must meet in order to ascend to the EU. These include:

  • a respect for the rule of law and human rights including respect for minorities
  • stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy
  • a functioning market economy
  • the capacity to cope with Community market forces
  • adherence to the aims of political, economic and monetary union

Applicant states must submit a membership application to the Council at which time the Commission assesses the ability of the applicant to adhere to the Copenhagen Criteria. Once the Commission approves, applicant then enters the negotiation period followed by a screening process, and finally accession if agreed upon by the Council unanimously with consent of the European Parliament.


TEU, Article 49


Any European State which respects the values referred to in Article 2 and is committed to promoting them may apply to become a member of the Union. The European Parliament and national Parliaments shall be notified of this application. The applicant State shall address its application to the Council, which shall act unanimously after consulting the Commission and after receiving the consent of the European Parliament, which shall act by a majority of its component members. The conditions of eligibility agreed upon by the European Council shall be taken into account.

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