European Union

European Union
   The organisation created as the European Economic Community (EEC) by the Treaty of Rome (March 1957), whose preamble opens with the words: ‘Determined to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the people of Europe’. The six countries which had signed up for membership of a European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) were keen to take their limited cooperation into the whole area of economic activity. At the Messina Conference in 1955, they decided to examine the possibility of a general economic union and the development of the peaceful use of atomic energy. In 1957, The Six accordingly established the EEC and Euratom (European Atomic Energy Community), the three Communities eventually merging to become the European Community (EC) in 1967. The EC was transformed into the European Union as the result of the implementation of the Maastricht Treaty in November 1993. The founding fathers of the EC recognised that there were political implications in the treaties that they signed. They were inspired by the Churchillian vision of a United States of Europe and wanted to see rapid movement towards their grand design: complete political unification along federal lines.
   The Union of 27 members has developed as a result of five enlargements. Under the Heath (Conservative) Government, Britain joined the EEC in January 1973, membership being confirmed after some re-negotiation of the terms by the Wilson (Labour) Government in a referendum held in 1975. Membership has at times proved dif- ficult. In particular, as some of its implications have become increasingly apparent, rightwing politicians and members of the public have had doubts about the wisdom of handing over powers to Brussels. Many people have accepted the economic case for being in the Union. They are unhappy about any moves towards closer European integration.
   Further reading: N. Nugent, The Government and Politics of the European Union, Palgrave, 2003

Glossary of UK Government and Politics . 2013.

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