Europe was an arena of frequent and devastating wars for centuries. The European integration project was launched after the World War II as a way to prevent further conflicts between European countries and especially between the two chief belligerent nations - France and Germany. Several western European leaders came to the conclusion that the only way to establish a lasting peace was by bringing their nations together under a common, supranational institutional structure.
On 19 September 1946, the former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill gave a speech at Zurich University (Switzerland) calling for a "kind of United States of Europe". It was considered by many people as the first step towards European integration in the postwar period.
The real process of foundation of the European Community, however, began on 9 May 1950 when French Minister of Foreign Affairs Robert Schuman made a declaration in the name of the French government. This declaration, inspired by the visionary ideas of Jean Monnet, proposed to integrate French and German coal and steel production under an organization that would be open to other European countries. The brilliant idea was that if Germany and France could control each others access and use of coal and steel neither of the two countries would ever be able to produce weapons and get ready for a new war.
Schuman's initiative, actually expressed much deeper aspirations such as "the foundation of a European federation, indispensable to the preservation of peace". German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer supported this proposal and in 1951 six founding countries - Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands - responded to Schuman's declaration and signed the Treaty of Paris establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). The power to take decisions about the coal and steel industry in these countries was placed in the hands of an independent, supranational body called the "High Authority". In 1952, Jean Monnet became the first president of the High Authority.
On 25 March 1957, the six ECSC members signed the Treaties of Rome, creating the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). The purpose of the EEC was to form a "common market" among the six founding members, based on the "four freedoms": freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and people. Euratom was to pool the non-military nuclear resources of the states. The Treaty of Rome established the basic institutions and decision-making mechanisms still in place in today's European Union. In 1962 the countries of the EEC introduced a common policy on agriculture because they hoped to be selfsufficient with agricultural commodities.
The success of the European integration project during a period of steady economic growth in the 1960s set the stage for the first enlargement - the accession of the UK, Ireland and Denmark - in 1973. The benefits of economic convergence became more evident in the context of the 1970s energy crisis and financial turmoil, which led to the launch of the European Monetary System in 1979. In the same year, the first direct elections to the European Parliament (EP) took place. Previously, delegates from national parliaments had represented their country's legislative bodies at the EP in Strasbourg, France.
The Community further expanded southward with the accession of Greece (1981, the second enlargement), followed by Spain and Portugal (1986, the third enlargement). These accessions led the EEC to adopt "structural programs" in order to reduce economic and social disparities among its regions.
During the 1990s it became increasingly easy for people to move around in Europe, as passport and customs checks were abolished at most of the EU's internal borders. One consequence is greater mobility for EU citizens. Since 1987, for example, more than a million young Europeans have taken study courses abroad, with support from the EU.
In 1991 the governments of the 12 member states signed the Treaty on European Union (commonly called the Maastricht Treaty). The Maastricht Treaty transformed the EC into the EU. The amendments to the treaties have further deepened the strong ties between the EU's Member States, brought numerous changes in the institutional set-up of the Union, and extended its competences to new areas. The treaty introduced the three-pillar structure that exists today (the European Communities pillar, the Common Foreign and Security Policy or CFSP pillar, and the Justice and Home Affairs pillar).
The Maastricht Treaty also set out a timetable for economic and monetary union and the introduction of a single currency. The single currency - the euro - became a reality on 1 January 2002, when euro notes and coins replaced national currencies in twelve countries - Belgium, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Finland.
On 1 May 2004 the fifth, and biggest ever, wave of enlargement took place, with the accession of ten new countries: Cyprus (Greek part), the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia.
The sixth enlargement occurred on 1 January 2007 when Bulgaria and Romania officially joined the European Union and it has grown to 27 member states. The newest members raise the EU's population by 30 million to 490 million.
To ensure that the enlarged EU can continue functioning efficiently, it needs a more streamlined system for taking decisions. That is why the Treaty of Nice lays down new rules governing the size of the EU institutions and the way they work. It came into force on 1 February 2003. It will be replaced, in 2006, by the new EU Constitution - if all EU countries approve this.
The countries that make up the European Union (its "Member States") pool their sovereignty in order to gain a strength and world influence none of them would have on its own. Pooling sovereignty means, in practice, that Member States delegate some of their decision-making powers to shared institutions they have created, so that decisions on specific matters of joint interest can be taken at European level.
Economic and political integration between the member states of the European Union means that these countries have to take joint decisions on many matters. In the early days the focus was on a common commercial policy for coal and steel and a common agricultural policy. Other policies were added as time went by, and as the need arose.
Today the EU also deals with many other subjects of direct importance for citizens' everyday lives, such as citizens' fundamental rights; ensuring freedom, security and justice; job creation; regional development; making globalisation work for everyone, etc. Also, some key policy aims have changed in the light of changing circumstances. For example, the aim of the agricultural policy is no longer to produce as much food as cheaply as possible but to support farming methods that produce healthy, high-quality food and protect the environment. The need for environmental protection is now taken into account across the whole range of EU policies.
European integration has delivered more than half a century of peace, stability, and economic prosperity. It has helped to built a common market, raise standards of living, and strengthened the EU's voice in the world.
Sources: Europa - The European Union - Official Portal
European Union - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
1. devastating ['devsteiti] - опустошителен; унищожителен|
2. to launch [ln] - предприемам, пускам в ход; основавам, създавам, лансирам
3. belligerent [be'lirnt] - 1. воюващ; 2. воинствен; II. n участник във въоръжен конфликт, воюваща страна
4. lasting [la:sti] - (дълго)траен, постоянен
5. to bring together - 1) събирам, сближавам; 2) обединявам
6. supranational [sju:pr'nnl] - надхвърлящ рамките на националните интереси
7. postwar ['pstw] - следвоенен
8. steel [sti:l] - стомана
9. aspiration [,spi'rein] - стремеж
10. indispensable [,indi'spensbl] - 1. необходим, от първа необходимост, належащ (to, for); 2. задължителен (за закон);
11. preservation [,prez'vein] - запазване, опазване
12. proposal [pr'pouzl] - предложение (и за женитба); план; ~ of marriage предложение за женитба; ~ for peace предложение за мир
13. treaty ['tri:ti] - договор
14. to pool [pu:l] - 1. сдружавам се, образувам пул/тръст; 2. обединявам в общ фонд; събирам, давам (средства, спестявания за обща цел)
15. self-sufficient [,selfs'fint] - 1. самостоятелен, независим; 2. самозадоволяващ се; З. самонадеян, самомнителен
16. commodity [ka'maditi] - търговски артикул, стока за широко потребление; рl стоки; ~ production производство на стоки за широко потребление
17. steady ['stedi] - устойчив, стабилен; здрав; балансиран
18. to set the stage - театр. нареждам декорите (и прен.)
19. enlargement [in'la:mnt] - увеличаване, уголемяване, нарастване; разширяване
20. accession [k'sen] - 1. прираст; прибавяне, прибавка, увеличение; 2. постижение, придобивка; 3. добавка, увеличение; нарастване на стойност и пр.; 4. достъп, допускане
21. benefit ['benifit] - облага, полза, изгода; печалба
22. convergence [kn'v:ns] - срещане, събиране, съсредоточаване
23. turmoil ['t:mil] - шум, смут, бъркотия
24. election [i'lekn] - 1. избор; избиране; 2. избори
25. to take place - провеждам се
26. previously ['pri:visli] adv - по-рано, по-преди; някога
27. legislative ['leislativ] - а законодателен
28. to expand [iks'pnd] - разширявам (се), разтягам (се); увеличавам (се), уголемявам (се)
29. southward ['sauwd] - на/към югозапад
30. to adopt ['dpt] - 1. осиновявам; възприемам, усвоявам (обичаи и пр.); 2 приемам, одобрявам (закон и пр.)
31. disparity [dis'priti] - несьответствие; несъразмерност, неравенство
32. customs ['kstm] - рl митница
33. to abolish ['bli] - отменявам, премахвам, анулирам (обичай, закон и пр.); закривам (учреждение и пр.)
34. border ['bd] - граница
35. abroad ['brd] - в чужбина, в странство, зад граница
36. consequence ['knsikwns] - последствие, последица (обик. pl)
37. amendment ['mendmnt] - 1. (предложение за) изменение (на закон и пр.); 2. юр. поправка, изправяне на грешка (в закон, процес), 3. подобрение
38. pillar ['рil] - стълб, колона; стойка, опора
39. to set up - основавам, учредявам, създавам; предлагам, излагам, излизам с (теория и пр.), изработвам (план и пр.)
40. timetable ['taimteibl] - програма, разписание
41. monetary ['mnitri] - 1. монетен, паричен; 2. валутен, девизен
42. currency ['krnsi] - 1. валута; пари; 2. парично обръщение
43. to occur ['k:] v (-rr-) - ставам, случвам се, настъпвам (за събитие и пр.)
44. to join [in] - прибавям, присьединявам (се)
45. streamlined ['stri:mlaind] - сполучливо интегриран; добре организиран
46. to lay [lei] v (laid [leid]) down - формулирам; утвърждавам; поддържам (принцип); съставям, изработвам (план, правилник, харта)
47. to come into force/to enter into force - влизам в сила
48. to make [meik] v (made [meid]) up - образувам, формирам, съставям
49. sovereignty ['svrnti] - 1. върховна власт; 2. суверенитет; З. независима/суверенна държава
50. in order ['d] to - за да
51. influence ['influns] - влияние, въздействие
52. joint [int] - общ, съвместен; обединен
53. policy ['plisi] - 1. политика; 2. курс/линия на поведение
54. to arise ['raiz] v (arose ['rouz]; arisen ['rizn] ) - излизам, възниквам
55. circumstance ['saikamstans] - обик. pl обстоятелство, положение, условие
56. to take into account - вземам под внимание, държа сметка за
57. to deliver [di'liv] - давам; снабдявам; произвеждам
58. prosperity [pr'speriti] - преуспяване, процъфтяване; благоденствие, благополучие, благосъстояние;
| Official or Officious
Map of the EU from Wikipedia.org
|The 28 countries of the European Union
25 March 1957 Belgium, France, Germany,
Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands
1 January 1973 Denmark, Ireland, United Kingdom
1 January 1981 Greece
1 January 1986 Portugal, Spain
1990 East Germany - German unification
1 January 1995
Austria, Finland, Sweden
1 May 2004
Cyprus (Greek part), Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovak Republic, Slovenia
1 January 2007
1 July 2013
Albania, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (f.Y.R.O.M.), Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey
* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/99 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence
Non-Member/Other European States
Andorra, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Monaco, Norway, Russia, San Marino, Switzerland, Ukraine, Vatican City
The European Institutions
- European Parliament - The European Parliament is the parliamentary body of the European Union (EU), directly elected once every five years. The European Parliament consists of 626 representatives chosen by the member states’ citizens. Together with the Council of Ministers, it comprises the legislative branch of the institutions of the Union. It meets in two locations: Brussels and Strasbourg.
- European Commission - The European Commission (formally the Commission of the European Communities) is the executive body or "public service" of the European Union. Alongside the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, it is one of the three main institutions governing the Union.
- Council of the EU - The Council is the EU's main decision-making body. The Council of the European Union forms, along with the European Parliament, the legislative arm of the European Union (EU). It contains ministers of the governments of each of the member-states. The Council of the European Union is sometimes referred to in official European Union documents simply as the Council, and it is often informally referred to as the Council of Ministers (which will become its official name if the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe is adopted). It meets periodically in Brussels or Luxembourg to adopt Community legislation, often jointly with the European Parliament.
- Court of Justice - The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is formally known as the 'Court of Justice of the European Communities', i.e. the court of the European Union (EU). It is based in Luxembourg, unlike most of the rest of the European Union institutions, which are based in Brussels and Strasbourg.
The Symbols of Europe
The Flag - The European flag is the symbol not only of the European Union but also of Europe's unity and identity in a wider sense. The circle of gold stars represents solidarity and harmony between the peoples of Europe.
The number of stars has nothing to do with the number of Member States. There are twelve stars because the number twelve is traditionally the symbol of perfection, completeness and unity. The flag therefore remains unchanged regardless of EU enlargements.
The Anthem - This is the anthem not only of the European Union but also of Europe in a wider sense. The melody of the European Anthem comes from the Ninth Symphony composed in 1823 by Ludwig van Beethoven.
For the final movement of this symphony, Beethoven set to music the "Ode to Joy" written in 1785 by Friedrich von Schiller. This poem expresses Schiller's idealistic vision of the human race becoming brothers - a vision Beethoven shared.
In 1972, the Council of Europe adopted Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" theme as its own anthem. In 1985, it was adopted by EU heads of State and government as the official anthem of the European Union. Listen to a recording of the "Ode to Joy".
The Motto - “United in diversity” is the motto of the European Union. It first came into use around the year 2000 and was for the first time officially mentioned in the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, which was signed in 2004. The motto means that, via the EU, Europeans are united in working together for peace and prosperity, and that the many different cultures, traditions and languages in Europe are a positive asset for the continent.
Europe Day - On the 9th of May 1950, Robert Schuman presented his proposal on the creation of an organised Europe, indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations. Today, the 9th of May has become a European symbol (Europe Day) which, along with the flag, the anthem, the motto and the single currency (the euro), identifies the political entity of the European Union.
The Single Currency (The Euro) - The 'euro' is the single currency of the European Union. Not all Member States, however, decided to join the single currency. 11 Member States adopted the euro in 1/1/1999. They are: France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Austria. Greece joined in December 2000. Slovenia adopted the euro on 1 January 2007. Sweden, Denmark and the UK have all decided not to join the euro for the time being.