Sunday, June 19

Why do we have the EU?

1950s Marshall Plan Poster
Here is a potted history of the EU:

1945 - 1951
World War II finished and Europe was economically a mess. The Cold War started up with the threat of Russian Communism reaching further across a Europe thatg had been weakened by the WWII conflict. Financially bankrupt and made up of national markets that were outdated and small in comparison to the US, Europe was not well placed for modern economic development. European nations each had their own old trade laws and 'patriotic' protectionist policies.

At this time the US Marshall Plan (European Recovery Plan) was devised to help European nations rebuild their economies after WWII and was the seed for the creation of the European Economic Community.

The European Coal and Steel Community was created and was the first step towards greater economic and trade cooperation between the previously warring nations. The first step towards a common market. Even at this stage France was still worried about possible Germany militarisation and saw the new body as a way of monitoring German industrial activities.

1953 - 1959
France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg formed the European Economic Community (EEC), a step towards economic and political cooperation and designed to counter growing Russian influence in Eastern Europe (East Germany, Poland, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia). The two goals of the EEC were the establishment of a common market and greater political union. The idea was to create a more harmonious environment that reduced differences between regions and abolished trade restrictions that hindered economic development.

1960 - 1973
Britain initially declined to join the EEC but as the Community grew wealthy it was harder to resist membership. Britains membership was also vetoed by Charles De Gaulle durring the 1960s. Eventually in 1973 Britain joined along with Ireland and Denmark.

A referendum was held in Britain on the 5th June to allow the British public a vote on whether to remain in the EEC. The public voted to remain. The Labour government of the time renegotiated Britains membership of the EEC in 1975 and parliament agreed to the new terms on 9th April.

1990 - 2016
In 1993 the EU was formed from the EEC. The Maastricht Treaty established the European parliament, a central bank, a common currency and defence policy.

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