The Treaties of Rome
The signing of the
Treaties of Rome
On 25th March
1957, two treaties were signed in Rome that gave birth to the
European Economic Community (EEC) and to European Atomic Energy Community
(Euratom): the Treaties of
Rome. The signatories of the historic agreement were
Christian Pineau on behalf of France, Joseph Luns from the Netherlands, Paul
Henri Spaak from Belgium, Joseph
Bech from Luxemburg, Antonio Segni from Italy and Konrad
Adenauer from the Federal Republic of Germany. The Treaties were ratified
by National Parliaments over the following
months and came into force on 1st January 1958.
The Treaty establishing the EEC affirmed in its
preamble that signatory States were
"determined to lay the
foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe".
this way, the member States specifically affirmed the political objective of a progressive
In fact, the brand new institution was a customs union.
As a consequence, the EEC was
colloquially known as "Common Market". The member countries agreed to
dismantle all tariff barriers over a 12-year transitional period. In view
economic success that freer commercial exchanges brought about, the transitory term
was shortened and in July 1968 all tariffs among the EEC States were
abrogated. At the
same time, a common tariff was established for all products
coming from third countries.
As a matter of fact, the common
market meant exclusively free circulation of goods. Free movement of persons, capitals and services
continued to be subject to numerous limitations. It was necessary to wait until the Single
European Act, in 1987, when
a definitive boost was given to establish a genuine unified market.
This brought about the European Union Treaty in 1992.
The other essential agreement
included in the Treaty of Rome
was the adoption of a Common
agricultural policy (CAP).
Essentially, the CAP enacted a free market of agricultural products inside the EEC and
guaranteed sufficient revenues to European farmers,
competition from third countries'
by guaranteeing agricultural
prices. With the aim of financing the CAP, the European
Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF) was established in 1962. The
continued absorbing most of the community budget, and its reform has been
one of the most badly needed in recent years.
of Rome also established the prohibition of monopolies, some transport common
policies, and the grant of some commercial
privileges to the colonial territories of the member States.
of Rome signified the triumph of a very realistic and gradualist approach to
building the EU. This method was personified by
Monnet. The failure of the CED demonstrated that tremendous obstacles
lay in the path of the final construction of a political
union. Consequently, the new strategy sought to adopt a process of
integration that gradually incorporated diverse economic sectors and that
established supranational institutions with increasingly political
competences.. The EEC from its birth was based on a series of institutions: the European
the European Assembly, later known as European
Parliament, the Court
of Justice and the Economic
and Social Committee, whose competences were enlarged and modified in the diverse agreements and treaties that
succeeded the Treaty of Rome.
To sum up, a process put in motion
in which progressive economic integration was paving the way to the long
term objective, the political union.
The Treaty that instituted the
EURATOM tried to create the conditions for developing a strong nuclear
industry. It was much less important than the treaty that brought into
existence the EEC and, in fact, when people speak about
the treaties of Rome refer, incorrectly, to the one which established the EEC.
The "British problem" and
the enlargement of the EEC in 1973
The absence of the United Kingdom
constituted the main
political problem that the EEC had to face in its early years.
The British government refused to participate for different reasons:
importance of its commercial, political and, even, sentimental bonds with
its colonies and former colonies, most of them integrated in
Its refusal to join a customs union. The
British government defended the establishment of a free
trade area, in which the internal customs rights were
abolished, but national governments would maintain their competences of
enacting their own
tariffs with regard to third countries;
The fact that Britain was totally opposed
to embarking on a project whose long-term aim was to surrender the
sovereignty of national states to supranational European institutions.
In other words, the British were, and many of them still remain, very far from the
objective of an European political union.
After negotiations to integrate Britain in
the EEC broke down, the British
government proposed the foundation of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA),
Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Austria and
Portugal joined to that new organisation. It fell far short of any project of
political integration, and constituted a mere free trade area.
Shortly, Britain realized its mistake. Whereas the EEC
witnessed a spectacular
economic growth, with growth rates in the sixties clearly
superior to those in America, Great Britain continued its downward trend
in relation to the Continent.
August of 1961 the British Prime Minister requested the beginning of
negotiations on accession to the EEC. However, after starting negotiations, the French
De Gaulle, in 1963 vetoed British accession to the EEC. He was resolved to build
up a Europe of the
homelands that would become a third superpower between the USA and
the USSR, and was suspicious of the Britain’s close bonds with Washington. In 1967, when British Labour prime minister, Harold Wilson,
again requested to join the EEC, the French general once more banned the accession of the United Kingdom.
Charles De Gaulle
Gaulle, in spite of defending a strong Europe before USA and
USSR, never believed in a politically united Europe. In his view,
the national independence of France, the country that he tried boldly to
maintain in a role of power, was an non-negotiable question.
Gaulle's nationalism brought about the
empty chair crisis in 1966 that
kept paralysed the Community for seven months and that, finally,
concluded with the Commitment of Luxemburg. France resumed its place in
the Council in return for keeping the unanimity vote when major
interests were at stake.
resignation of De
in 1969, for reasons of home affairs, opened up the possibility of
After overcoming the tough
opposition of a significant section of the British public that claimed to
maintain an anti-European stance,
negotiations came to an end in 1972. Eventually the United Kingdom joined the
EEC. Denmark and Ireland accompanied it. The Europe of the Nine was born.
Edward Heath, British prime minister signs the accesion to the EEC (1973)
Norwegian people, contradicting their own government's opinion, voted against
entering the EEC. Henceforth, Norway has since stayed apart from the
Progress in European integration and the enlargement to the "Europe of the Twelve"
The 1973 economic crisis put an end to
a period of impressive economic
growth that European countries had enjoyed for a long time. Unemployment,
inflation and crisis of traditional industrial sectors characterized the economic
landscape of the EEC in
the second half of the 70es and early 80s. In
spite of the fact that some journalists coined the terms euroscepticism and
eurosclerosis to refer to an integration
process that seemed to fade, the fact was that, over these years, important
advancements took place. Not only was a higher level of integration
achieved, but the process of enlargement
These were the key advancements:
From 1975 the denominated European
Council was instituted as a periodical meeting of Heads of State or
Government. This was tobe the institution where major long-term decisions
would be agreed.
the European Monetary System (EMS) came into force. At the same time,
the European Currency Unit (ECU), direct predecessor of the Euro, was
born. Member countries' currencies were tied in a narrow 2.5% band of
fluctuation and national governments
committed to coordinate their monetary policies. It was the first
significant step toward monetary union.
First elections to the European
Parliament by direct universal suffrage were held in 1979.
The end of military
dictatorships in Greece (1974), Portugal (1974) and Spain (Franco died in 1975)
3. made possible the accession of these nations. Greece, in 1981, and Spain and Portugal, in 1986, became new members of the EEC. The Community was enlarged toward
the Mediterranean Europe. Spain managed to accomplish an old
representatives signing the accesion to EEC (1986)
In 1984, a
group of European MPs, chaired by the Italian Altiero
Spinelli, introduced in Parliament a project of Treaty of the
European Union. They intended to obtain the approval of a new treaty that
substituted the old one signed in Rome and that constituted a great advancement
in the European integration. In spite of not being passed by the
governments, the scheme’s merit was that it anticipated the debate on the
main advancements that would take place in the 90s.
the three countries of the Benelux, France and Germany signed the Schengen
Agreement. Most of the member States would join in subsequent years.
It constituted the beginning of an ambitious initiative to
guarantee the free movement of persons and the gradual removal of
frontiers among the community States.
second half of the 80s, the integration process received an
important political impulse, largely due to Jacques
Delors. A French socialist, he was elected president
of the European Commission in 1985. The first step was the enacting of
European Act in 1986.