The history of the European Union

We may start the history of the European Union with its name: Europe. We all know that Europe is not a geographically definable concept, since it's very hard to define its borders, as we can do in the case of Africa or Australia.

General De Gaulle said Europe stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Urals.

But this sentence raises some issues:

If we accept the idea that Europe is one continent, it would be the smallest, although more than 50 countries are situated on it. However there are 27 states in the European Union and three more countries are waiting for full membership: Croatia, Turkey and Macedonia.

Let's go back in history. What happened after World War II? The desire for peace was so strong in people that it affected the politicians. Jean Monnet, who is considered to be the father of the EU and his friend, the French Secretary of State Robert Schuman, thought that peace between the Germans and the French was the most important thing. They therefore established the Montanunion in 1951, and the same six countries who participated in it founded the ancestor of the European Union, the European Economic Community, also known as European Community 1957 on March 25th in the Treaty of Rome.

The main aims of the union were stated by France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxemburg, and Holland as follows:

How was this achieved in practice?

The number of the members increased in every decade.

Those who joined felt that Europe owes a debt to the past socialist states, while the old 15 feared that the Union would be diluted.

Even the newly joined states did not really know what joining the EU meant. The small number of the participants in the voting demonstrated that many people Hungary were against joining in, but those who did vote said a resounding 'yes'. With this enlargement a question arose: where can the EU grow? Many of the states e. g. France and Germany were worried about Turkey joining.

It seems that the increase of the number of the members in the European Union by this time always happened for political reasons. Beside the economical achievements (union of customs, standard currency), the EU can boast many political and cultural successes such as the free market for products and people, and the fact that we have been living in peace for more than 50 years except for a few smaller local wars.

I think this is biggest achievement of the EU.

Dr Fáyné dr Péter Emese