European Economic Community This article is about one of the three European Communities
that existed from 1958 until 2009. It is not to be confused with the present-day European Union
, which incorporated the European Communities in 1993.
The European Economic Community
) was a regional organization
that aimed to bring about economic integration
among its member states. It was created by the Treaty of Rome
of 1957.[note 1]
Upon the formation of the European Union
in 1993, the EEC was incorporated into the EU and renamed the European Community
). In 2009, the EC formally ceased to exist and its institutions were directly absorbed by the EU. This made the Union the formal successor institution of the Community.
The Community's initial aim was to bring about economic integration, including a common market
and customs union
, among its six founding members
, the Netherlands
and West Germany
. It gained a common set of institutions
along with the European Coal and Steel Community
(ECSC) and the European Atomic Energy Community
(EURATOM) as one of the European Communities
under the 1965 Merger Treaty
(Treaty of Brussels). In 1993 a complete single market
was achieved, known as the internal market
, which allowed for the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people within the EEC. In 1994 the internal market was formalised by the EEA agreement. This agreement also extended the internal market to include most of the member states of the European Free Trade Association
, forming the European Economic Area
, which encompasses 15 countries.
Upon the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty
in 1993, the EEC was renamed the European Community
to reflect that it covered a wider range than economic policy. This was also when the three European Communities, including the EC, were collectively made to constitute the first of the three pillars of the European Union
, which the treaty also founded. The EC existed in this form until it was abolished by the 2009 Treaty of Lisbon
, which incorporated the EC's institutions into the EU's wider framework and provided that the EU would "replace and succeed the European Community".
The EEC was also known as the European Common Market in the English-speaking countries and sometimes referred to as the European Community even before it was officially renamed as such in 1993.
Creation and early years
The resulting communities were the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community
(EURATOM or sometimes EAEC). These were markedly less supranational than the previous communities,
due to protests from some countries that their sovereignty
was being infringed (however there would still be concerns with the behaviour of the Hallstein Commission
). Germany became a founding member of the EEC, and Konrad Adenauer was made leader in a very short time. The first formal meeting of the Hallstein Commission
was held on 16 January 1958 at the Chateau de Val-Duchesse
. The EEC (direct ancestor of the modern Community) was to create a customs union
while Euratom would promote co-operation in the nuclear power
sphere. The EEC rapidly became the most important of these and expanded its activities. One of the first important accomplishments of the EEC was the establishment (1962) of common price levels for agricultural products. In 1968, internal tariffs (tariffs on trade between member nations) were removed on certain products.
French President Charles de Gaulle
vetoed British membership, held back the development of Parliament's powers and was at the centre of the 'empty chair crisis' of 1965
Another crisis was triggered in regard to proposals for the financing of the Common Agricultural Policy
, which came into force in 1962. The transitional period whereby decisions were made by unanimity had come to an end, and majority-voting in the council had taken effect. Then-French President Charles de Gaulle
's opposition to supranationalism and fear of the other members challenging the CAP led to an "empty chair policy" whereby French representatives were withdrawn from the European institutions until the French veto was reinstated. Eventually, a compromise was reached with the Luxembourg compromise
on 29 January 1966 whereby a gentlemen's agreement
permitted members to use a veto on areas of national interest.
On 1 July 1967 when the Merger Treaty
came into operation, combining the institutions of the ECSC and Euratom into that of the EEC, they already shared a Parliamentary Assembly
. Collectively they were known as the European Communities
. The Communities still had independent personalities although were increasingly integrated. Future treaties granted the community new powers beyond simple economic matters which had achieved a high level of integration. As it got closer to the goal of political integration and a peaceful and united Europe, what Mikhail Gorbachev
described as a Common European Home
Enlargement and elections
The 1960s saw the first attempts at enlargement
. In 1961, Denmark
, the United Kingdom
(in 1962), applied to join the three Communities. However, President Charles de Gaulle saw British membership as a Trojan horse
for U.S. influence and vetoed membership, and the applications of all four countries were suspended. Greece
became the first country to join the EC in 1961 as an associate member, however its membership was suspended in 1967 after the Colonels' coup d'état.
A year later, in February 1962, Spain
attempted to join the European Communities. However, because Francoist Spain
was not a democracy, all members rejected the request in 1964.
The Treaties of Rome
had stated that the European Parliament
must be directly elected, however this required the Council
to agree on a common voting system first. The Council procrastinated on the issue and the Parliament remained appointed,
French President Charles de Gaulle was particularly active in blocking the development of the Parliament, with it only being granted Budgetary powers
following his resignation.
Parliament pressured for agreement and on 20 September 1976 the Council agreed part of the necessary instruments for election, deferring details on electoral systems which remain varied to this day.
During the tenure of President Jenkins
, in June 1979, the elections were held in all the then-members (see 1979 European Parliament election
The new Parliament, galvanised by direct election and new powers, started working full-time and became more active than the previous assemblies.
Shortly after its election, the Parliament proposed that the Community adopt the flag of Europe
design used by the Council of Europe
The European Council in 1984 appointed an ad hoc
committee for this purpose.
The European Council in 1985 largely followed the Committee's recommendations, but as the adoption of a flag was strongly reminiscent of a national flag
, was controversial, the "flag of Europe" design was adopted only with the status of a "logo" or "emblem".
The European Council, or European summit, had developed since the 1960s as an informal meeting of the Council at the level of heads of state. It had originated from then-French President Charles de Gaulle
's resentment at the domination of supranational institutions (e.g. the Commission) over the integration process. It was mentioned in the treaties for the first time in the Single European Act
Enlargement, 1957 to 2013
re-applied to join the community on 12 June 1975, following the restoration of democracy, and joined on 1 January 1981.
Following on from Greece, and after their own democratic restoration, Spain
applied to the communities in 1977 and joined together on 1 January 1986.
In 1987 Turkey
formally applied to join the Community and began the longest application process for any country.
With the prospect of further enlargement, and a desire to increase areas of co-operation, the Single European Act
was signed by the foreign ministers on 17 and 28 February 1986 in Luxembourg
and The Hague
respectively. In a single document it dealt with reform of institutions, extension of powers, foreign policy cooperation and the single market. It came into force on 1 July 1987.
The act was followed by work on what would be the Maastricht Treaty
, which was agreed on 10 December 1991, signed the following year and coming into force on 1 November 1993 establishing the European Union, and paving the way for the European Monetary Union
The EU absorbed the European Communities as one of its three pillars
. The EEC's areas of activities were enlarged and were renamed the European Community
, continuing to follow the supranational
structure of the EEC. The EEC institutions became those of the EU, however the Court, Parliament and Commission had only limited input in the new pillars, as they worked on a more intergovernmental
system than the European Communities. This was reflected in the names of the institutions, the Council was formally the "Council of the European Union
" while the Commission was formally the "Commission of the European Communities
However, after the Treaty of Maastricht, Parliament gained a much bigger role. Maastricht brought in the codecision procedure
, which gave it equal legislative power with the Council on Community matters. Hence, with the greater powers of the supranational institutions and the operation of Qualified Majority Voting
in the Council, the Community pillar could be described as a far more federal
method of decision making.
In 2002, the Treaty of Paris
which established the ECSC expired, having reached its 50-year limit (as the first treaty, it was the only one with a limit). No attempt was made to renew its mandate; instead, the Treaty of Nice
transferred certain of its elements to the Treaty of Rome
and hence its work continued as part of the EC area of the European Community's remit.
After the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon
in 2009 the pillar structure ceased to exist. The European Community, together with its legal personality
, was absorbed into the newly consolidated European Union which merged in the other two pillars (however Euratom remained distinct). This was originally proposed under the European Constitution
but that treaty failed ratification in 2005.
Aims and achievements
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. (December 2007)
The main aim of the EEC, as stated in its preamble, was to "preserve peace and liberty and to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe". Calling for balanced economic growth, this was to be accomplished through:
- The establishment of a customs union with a common external tariff
- Common policies for agriculture, transport and trade, including standardization (for example, the CE marking designates standards compliance)
- Enlargement of the EEC to the rest of Europe
For the customs union, the treaty provided for a 10% reduction in custom duties and up to 20% of global import quotas. Progress on the customs union proceeded much faster than the twelve years planned. However, France faced some setbacks due to their war with Algeria
The six states that founded the EEC and the other two Communities were known as the "inner six
" (the "outer seven" were those countries who formed the European Free Trade Association
). The six were France, West Germany, Italy and the three Benelux
countries: Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. The first enlargement was in 1973, with the accession of Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Greece, Spain and Portugal joined in the 1980s. The former East Germany
became part of the EEC upon German reunification in 1990. Following the creation of the EU in 1993, it has enlarged to include an additional sixteen countries by 2013.
Founding members of EEC
Later members of EEC
Member states are represented in some form in each institution. The Council
is also composed of one national minister who represents their national government. Each state also has a right to one European Commissioner
each, although in the European Commission
they are not supposed to represent their national interest but that of the Community. Prior to 2004, the larger members (France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom) have had two Commissioners. In the European Parliament
, members are allocated a set number seats
related to their population, however these (since 1979
) have been directly elected and they sit according to political allegiance, not national origin. Most other institutions, including the European Court of Justice
, have some form of national division of its members.
There were three political institutions which held the executive and legislative power of the EEC, plus one judicial institution and a fifth body created in 1975. These institutions (except for the auditors) were created in 1957 by the EEC but from 1967 onwards they applied to all three Communities. The Council represents governments, the Parliament represents citizens and the Commission represents the European interest.
Essentially, the Council, Parliament or another party place a request for legislation to the Commission. The Commission then drafts this and presents it to the Council for approval and the Parliament for an opinion (in some cases it had a veto, depending upon the legislative procedure
in use). The Commission's duty is to ensure it is implemented by dealing with the day-to-day running of the Union and taking others to Court if they fail to comply.
After the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, these institutions became those of the European Union, though limited in some areas due to the pillar structure. Despite this, Parliament in particular has gained more power over legislation and security of the Commission. The Court was the highest authority in the law, settling legal disputes in the Community, while the Auditors had no power but to investigate.
The High Authority had more executive powers than the Commission which replaced it
There was greater difference between these than name: the French government of the day had grown suspicious of the supranational power of the High Authority and sought to curb its powers in favour of the intergovernmental style Council. Hence the Council had a greater executive role in the running of the EEC than was the situation in the ECSC. By virtue of the Merger Treaty
in 1967, the executives of the ECSC and Euratom were merged with that of the EEC, creating a single institutional structure governing the three separate Communities. From here on, the term European Communities
were used for the institutions (for example, from Commission of the European Economic Community
to the Commission of the European Communities
The Council was composed of one national minister
from each member state. However the Council met in various forms depending upon the topic. For example, if agriculture was being discussed, the Council would be composed of each national minister for agriculture. They represented their governments and were accountable to their national political systems. Votes were taken either by majority (with votes allocated according to population) or unanimity. In these various forms they share some legislative and budgetary power of the Parliament.
Since the 1960s the Council also began to meet informally at the level of national leaders; these European summits
followed the same presidency system and secretariat as the Council but was not a formal formation of it.
The Commission of the European Communities
was the executive arm
of the community, drafting Community law
, dealing with the day to running of the Community and upholding the treaties
. It was designed to be independent, representing the Community interest, but was composed of national representatives (two from each of the larger states, one from the smaller states). One of its members was the President
, appointed by the Council, who chaired the body and represented it.
The European Parliament
held its first elections in 1979, slowly gaining more influence over Community decision making.
In 1970 and 1975, the Budgetary treaties
gave Parliament power over the Community budget
. The Parliament's members, up-until 1980 were national MPs serving part-time in the Parliament. The Treaties of Rome had required elections to be held once the Council had decided on a voting system, but this did not happen and elections were delayed until 1979 (see 1979 European Parliament election
). After that, Parliament was elected every five years. In the following 20 years, it gradually won co-decision powers with the Council over the adoption of legislation, the right to approve or reject the appointment of the Commission President and the Commission as a whole, and the right to approve or reject international agreements entered into by the Community.
The Court of Justice of the European Communities
was the highest court
of on matters of Community law
and was composed of one judge per state with a president elected from among them. Its role was to ensure that Community law was applied in the same way across all states and to settle legal disputes between institutions or states. It became a powerful institution as Community law overrides national law.
The fifth institution is the European Court of Auditors
, which despite its name had no judicial powers like the Court of Justice. Instead, it ensured that taxpayer
funds from the Community budget
have been correctly spent. The court provided an audit report
for each financial year to the Council and Parliament and gives opinions and proposals on financial legislation and anti-fraud actions. It is the only institution not mentioned in the original treaties, having been set up in 1975.
At the time of its abolition, the European Community pillar covered the following areas;
EU evolution timeline
Since the end of World War II
countries have entered into treaties and thereby co-operated and harmonised policies (or pooled sovereignty
) in an increasing number of areas, in the so-called European integration project
or the construction of Europe
: la construction européenne
). The following timeline outlines the legal inception of the European Union
(EU)—the principal framework for this unification. The EU inherited many of its present responsibilities from the European Communities
(EC), which were founded in the 1950s in the spirit of the Schuman Declaration
¹Although not EU treaties per se
, these treaties affected the development
of the EU defence arm
, a main part of the CFSP. The Franco-British alliance established by the Dunkirk Treaty was de facto
superseded by WU. The CFSP pillar was bolstered by some of the security structures that had been established within the remit of the 1955 Modified Brussels Treaty
(MBT). The Brussels Treaty was terminated
in 2011, consequently dissolving the WEU, as the mutual defence clause
that the Lisbon Treaty provided for EU was considered to render the WEU superfluous. The EU thus de facto
superseded the WEU.
²The treaties of Maastricht and Rome form the EU's legal basis
, and are also referred to as the Treaty on European Union
(TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union
(TFEU), respectively. They are amended by secondary treaties.
³The European Communities
obtained common institutions and a shared legal personality
(i.e. ability to e.g. sign treaties in their own right).
⁴Between the EU's founding in 1993 and consolidation in 2009, the union consisted of three pillars
, the first of which were the European Communities. The other two pillars consisted of additional areas of cooperation that had been added to the EU's remit.
⁵The consolidation meant that the EU inherited the European Communities' legal personality
and that the pillar system was abolished
, resulting in the EU framework as such covering all policy areas. Executive/legislative power in each area was instead determined by a distribution of competencies
between EU institutions
and member states
. This distribution, as well as treaty provisions for policy areas in which unanimity is required and qualified majority voting
is possible, reflects the depth of EU integration as well as the EU's partly supranational
and partly intergovernmental
⁶Plans to establish a European Political Community
(EPC) were shelved following the French failure to ratify the Treaty establishing the European Defence Community
(EDC). The EPC would have combined the ECSC and the EDC.
- ^ Today the largely rewritten treaty continues in force as the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union, as renamed by the Lisbon Treaty.
- ^ a b The Belgian and Luxembourgish francs were 1:1 and theoretically interchangeable as a single currency.
- ^ German reunification took place in 1990
- ^ Including East Germany: 80,274,200
- ^ And recognised regional languages: Aranese, Galician, Basque and Catalan
- ^ a b Theiler, Tobias (2005). Political Symbolism and European Integration. Manchester University Press. pp. 61–65. ISBN 9780719069949. The compromise was widely disregarded from the beginning, and the "European logo" in spite of the explicit avoidance of giving it the status of a "flag" was referred to as "Community flag" or even "European flag" from the outset.
- ^ Raymond F. Mikesell, The Lessons of Benelux and the European Coal and Steel Community for the European Economic Community, The American Economic Review, Vol. 48, No. 2, Papers and Proceedings of the Seventieth Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association (May 1958), pp. 428–441
- ^ "Spaak report".
- ^ Fifty years of fraternal rivalry news.bbc.co.uk 19 March 2007
- ^ "The 'empty chair' policy".
- ^ Deschamps, Etienne; Lekl, Christian. "The accession of Greece" (PDF). CVCE. University of Luxemburg. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
- ^ "1994: Norway votes 'no' to Europe". BBC News. 28 November 1994.
- ^ a b c Hoskyns, Catherine; Michael Newman (2000). Democratizing the European Union: Issues for the twenty-first Century (Perspectives on Democratization). Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-5666-6.
- ^ "European Parliament press releases". Archived from the original on 19 February 2014.
- ^ "Report on the Insertion of a new Rule 202a on the use by Parliament of the symbols of the Union (2007/2240(REG))- Explanatory Statement". European Parliament.
- ^ Regarding The "Adonnino Report" - Report to the European Council by the ad hoc committee "On a People's Europe", A 10.04 COM 85, SN/2536/3/85. Under the header of "strengthening of the Community's image and identity", the Committee suggested the introduction of "a flag and an emblem", recommending a design based on the Council of Europe flag, but with the addition of "a gold letter E" in the center of the circle of stars: "bearing in mind the independence and the different nature of the two organizations, the Committee proposes to the European Council that the European Community emblem and flag should be a blue rectangle with, in the center, a circle of twelve five-pointed gold stars which do not touch, surrounding a gold letter E, of the design already used by the Commission." Adonnino Report, p. 31.
- ^ Stark, Christine. "Evolution of the European Council: The implications of a permanent seat"(PDF). Dragoman.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 July 2007. Retrieved 12 July 2007.
- ^ Deschamps, Etienne; Lekl, Christian (2016). "The accession of Greece". Centre Virtuel de la Connaissance sur l'Europe, Universite de Luxembourg.
- ^ The Accession Treaties with Spain and Portugal on CVCE website
- ^ "The provisions of the Single European Act".
- ^ a b What are the three pillars of the EU?, Folketingets EU-Oplysning
- ^ "The achievements of the EEC". CVCE. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
- ^ "The European Customs Union". CVCE. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
- ^ Data from Populstat.info Archived 4 April 2012 at WebCite
- ^ a b "Institutions: The European Commission". Europa (web portal). Archived from the original on 23 June 2007. Retrieved 25 June 2007.
- ^ "Merging of the executives". CVCE. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
- ^ "Council of the European Union". CVCE. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
- ^ "European Commission". CVCE. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
- ^ a b "Institutions: The Council of the European Union". Europa (web portal). Archived from the original on 3 July 2007. Retrieved 25 June 2007.
- ^ "Institutions: Court of Auditors". Europa (web portal). Archived from the original on 22 December 2009. Retrieved 25 June 2007.
- Acocella, Nicola (1992), ‘Trade and direct investment within the EC: The impact of strategic considerations’, in: Cantwell, John (ed.), ‘Multinational investment in modern Europe’, E. Elgar, Cheltenham, ISBN 978-1-8527-8421-8.
- Balassa, Bela (1962). The Theory of Economic Integration
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- Moravcsik, Andrew (1998). The Choice for Europe. Social Purpose and State Power from Messina to Maastricht 
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