What is the European Union? Part 1: Key Developments in the EU o 1951 Treaty of Paris - Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Italy and West Germany (The Six) set up the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) o 1957 Treaty of Rome - The Six set up the European Economic Community and European Atomic Energy Authority. (Euratom). o 1962 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) established - regulates farm prices and decides on agricultural priorities right across the community. o 1967 Creation of the European Communities (EC) by the merger of the previous areas of co-operation under a Commission and Council of Ministers. o 1968 Creation of European Customs Union. o 1973 Denmark, Ireland, and the UK join the EC.
o 1974 Heads of Government begin to meet as European Council. The Regional Fund created to help declining regions inside member states. o 1979 First direct elections to the European Parliament and European Monetary System (EMS) with its Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) and European Currency Unit (ECU) created. o 1981 Greece joins EC. o 1985 The Milan Summit and Single European Act (SEA) amend the Treaty of Rome to introduce modified majority voting in areas related to setting up a single market and take the first steps towards setting up a common foreign policy. o 1986 Spain and Portugal join the EC.
o 1989 Strasbourg Meeting. Germany insists that political union is necessary for monetary union. o 1992 Treaty on European Union (Maastricht Treaty) amends the SEA and prevents a plan for economic and political union. The Treaty covers co-operation on political, environmental, defence, social, cultural, and legal matters. Britain and Denmark opt out of the Social Chapter on welfare and regulation of working conditions o 1992/3 Maastricht Treaty narrowly approved by French referendum and on the second go in Denmark.
o 1992 UK is forced by a currency crisis to withdraw from ERM and EMS - other European currencies follow. o 1993 Single internal market inaugurated. o 1995 Austria, Finland and Sweden join EU. o 1997 Amsterdam Treaty - attempts by the Dutch to introduce major changes - like ending the national veto, extending QM to virtually every aspect of EU policy - were not successful o 1999 January - an inner core of member states adopt a common currency. Their own banknotes will disappear in 2002. Sweden, Denmark and the UK choose to stay out.
o 2000 September - Denmark votes against joining the common currency by 53% to 47%, despite the support for the euro from the major parties, business and the media. Part 2: A Historical Introduction While a detailed knowledge of the development of the EU is not necessary, it is impossible to understand Britain's involvement without a historical survey. A. An Increasing Impact In 1973 the United Kingdom became a member of the three European Communities, the organisations which are now absorbed into the European Union (EU).
In the subsequent period the UK political system has become increasingly interlinked with, and affected by, the institutions and policies associated with the European integration process. In consequence, very few areas of British policy have escaped the impact of the EU. Similarly, almost all political forces and institutions have been affected by European integration. B. Britain and the Consequences of WWII For Britain rest of Europe the period following the Second World War brought major change. Although emerging as one of the victorious allies the UK effectively lost its status as a world power.
The USA was to occupy the leadership role in the international economy and, politically, in the Western hemisphere. For Britain the new situation had two effects. o Firstly, it had to manage the 'descent from power' and adapt its foreign policy to being a medium sized power. o Second it had to recognise that it faced long-term economic problems in competing in a new environment. Yet, for various reasons (like the strong ties with the Commonwealth) successive British governments in the 1950 s did not confront the issue of reorienting British foreign policy to a new European-centred focus. British governments led by both major parties were reluctant to participate in new forms of European integration that seemed to challenge national sovereignty.
The nation-state was still an object of pride. C. Early European Co-operation The post-war experience of continental Europe was rather different. By continental Europe, we mean first of all Western Europe but exclude Spain and Portugal (as rather isolated dictatorships until the mid-1970 s) as well as the Scandinavian countries, which had different traditions as well as having escaped most of the worst excesses of fascism. The six member states which were to form the core of European integration until 1973 shared two particular experiences which encouraged them to develop a new form of co-operation: o Firstly, they had all had their prestige undermined by national defeat: whether at the hands of Hitler's Germany or whether, as in the case of Germany and Italy, at the hands of the Allies. o Secondly, in various ways they had all suffered from the excesses of state power, with the Nazi holocaust against the Jews the most extreme manifestation of this.
o These six states were France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Belgium. D. Three reasons promoting early European Co-operation For these countries - unlike Britain - the nation state had been discredited, resulting in powerful political forces for new forms of interstate co-operation. These new forms of co-operation were needed for three reasons. o Firstly, the six states all confronted the task of economic reconstruction but sought to solve particular economic policy issues in new ways. o Secondly, most of the states bordered West Germany and sought an innovative way of constraining German power.
o Thirdly, the Cold War created a geopolitical division through the centre of Europe and a need to organise against a perceived external threat reinforced the need for co-operation. Review Questions Sections A-D What factors encouraged early European co-operation after WWII? Why was Britain 'cheering from the sidelines' rather than involved in the process? E. The Key Concept of Supranationalism The consequence was that key continental political leaders, predominantly from the centre-right, developed supranational integration as a specific form of co-operation between states. Supranationalism involves not only a commitment on the part of member states to work together but, unlike other European or international organisations, also places formal constraints on national autonomy.
National governments have increasingly given up control of their own policies. Moreover, supranationalism expresses itself in a distinctive institutional European structure of government, in a body of law that takes precedence over national law and in a pattern of government which penetrates British politics and policies to a unique extent. F. Developing European Institutions to 1979 The table above lists key events in the development of European integration. Brief details of important stages are described below. The first of the supranational organisations was the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC).
It was proposed in the Schuman Plan of 1950 and was a French attempt to place the German (and French) 'industries of war' under supranational control, thus facilitating the reconstruction of the two industries in a way that would not threaten peace, and indeed would form the basis for Franco-German reconciliation. This Franco-German plan was adopted by the Six, and the ECSC came into operation in 1952. The resultant Franco-German relationship has been a peaceful one but it followed some eighty years of recurrent hostilities. It has been the bedrock of supranational integration. The Six agreed in 1957 to extend the supranational approach. Two new communities were set up in the Treaties of Rome and came into operation in 1958.
These were the European Atomic Energy Community and the European Economic Community (EEC). Of the three European Communities, it is the EEC which has been the most prominent. In 1967 the three communities merged their institutions, and from this time they were known collectively as the European Community (EC). When the Maastricht Treaty came into effect in November 1993 the current term - 'the European Union' - was adopted. Already by 1961 the strong economic performances of those states in the three communities prompted the UK government, under Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, to apply for membership (along with Denmark, Ireland and Norway).
However, these applications coincided with a major internal challenge to supranational integration in the form of the new French President, Charles de Gaulle. He had come to power in 1958 with a view to restoring French pride. He was opposed to supranational forms of integration. Moreover, he saw an opportunity for French leadership of the Six as a way of restoring national pride. In consequence, both in 1963 and in 1967 he blocked British attempts to join, fearing the presence of a rival power. No major new supranational initiatives were launched during the 1960 s while de Gaulle was in office.
However, progress was made on implementing parts of the EEC Treaty, including the creation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the removal of tariffs on trade between the member states. Apart from blocking enlargement, de Gaulle also sought to undermine supranationalism and in January 1966 the Luxembourg Compromise established an informal agreement that the principal decisions between governments would be taken on the basis of unanimity or consensus. This was a departure from the planned introduction of qualified majority voting. The effect was to dilute the supranational character of the EC for some twenty years until new momentum was provided by the Single European Act (see below). For the UK this episode was also to be of importance at a later stage.
When the first enlargement took place in 1973 (with the UK, Ireland and Denmark acceding), the British government presented the EC as an organisation which posed little major threat to sovereignty. In other words final and absolute authority would remain in the UK and not be challenged from outside. However, it is important to remember that this assumption about sovereignty was true only under the convention established in the Luxembourg Compromise and not under the formal rules set down in the treaties. When member states started to wish to return to the formal rules, and in particular to majority voting in the Council of Ministers (see below), the UK was less at ease because sovereignty was challenged. In general terms, regardless of which party has been in power, Britain has not been an enthusiast for greater supranationalism, but this has not stopped the general trend to more and more power being exercised by European institutions, with a parallel surrendering of national sovereignty. As the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 demonstrated, the UK's bargaining power has largely been limited to securing opt-out clauses from policies which it had been uncertain about, such as economic and monetary union (EMU), rather than influencing the direction of integration as a whole.
Review Questions, Sections E-F What is the concept of supra-nationalism? What has the British attitude been towards supranationalism? G. The Single European Act It was in the 1980 s that the integration process advanced in a striking way, through both widening and deepening. The EC was widened by virtue of two southern enlargements: in 1981 to encompass Greece, and in 1986 with the accession of Spain and Portugal. Deepening came about in the form of the Single European Act (SEA), which took effect in 1987. The SEA was the first comprehensive set of revisions to the original treaties of the 1950 s. Most prominently the SEA contained a commitment to accelerating economic integration.
It was designed in part to put into practice an agreement reached in 1985 to create a single European market. the basis to reinvigorate the competitiveness of the European economy. However, the SEA also strengthened the supranational institutions in order to speed up decision-making. The passage of the SEA greatly extended the scope of the Community. The Act provided for the completion of the single market by the end of 1992. What this meant was that all technical, physical and fiscal barriers to intra-community trade, were to be eliminated, as were all barriers to the free provision of professional and other services.
This was in line with the original concept of the Community, that there should be a Common market, a free trade area without any restraints to trade. Yet some regulations and barriers had never been eliminated and others had developed in the enlarged Community. In signing the Single European Act, The Twelve committed themselves to movement towards monetary union, which was a goal to be 'progressively realised'. Provision was also made for closer cooperation in the area of foreign policy and security, and for environmental improvement. The main purpose of the Single European Act was to create a single internal market among The Twelve by the end of 1992. This would fulfil the original version of a tariff-free trading area without obstacles to the free movement of goods, services, capital...
Among other things, this involved: o The creation of a single market for services such as banking, insurance, credit and securities o The creation of a single legal framework for business o The standardisation of differing national technical requirements for products o The gradual harmonisation of indirect taxes so as to remove the need for tax adjustments at the border o The easing of restrictions on living and working in another member state, with mutually recognised qualifications and diplomas The Objectives and Principles of the Treaty of Rome were amended by the new Act, and the Preamble agreed by the High Contracting Parties set out the new version which expressed a determination 'to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe' and 'resolved to ensure the economic and social progress of their countries'. Among other things, three main innovations in Community procedure were agreed; o The extent of majority-voting was widened, so that unanimity was required only for sensitive issues on which there were strong national interests o Matters concerning aspects of energy, environmental, research/ technological and social policy were brought within the authority of the EC o A new decision-making procedure was introduced. For matters concerned with the single market, there was in future to be a 'co-operation procedure' which would allow the European Parliament a greater say in the development of policy. The SEA required the agreement of each member country and had to be formally ratified in all of the national legislatures, because it amended the Treaty of Rome. Mrs Thatcher felt able to go along with the measure, for her Conservative Government had a very market-oriented approach to economic policy. Her ministers had worked for open trading conditions, and had since 1979 allowed the free movement of currency into and out of Britain.
There was some opposition in Parliament to the measure, not least among the Labour Party which had yet to embrace the European cause with any enthusiasm.