European Union

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European Union
European Union
Brussels, Luxembourg, Stasbourg
27 Member Countries


The European Union, or EU, is a community of 27 independent European states, which have partnered along economic, political, and, to a lesser extent, social, lines to promote and maintain a likeminded system of governance. Policy areas include both solidarity policies (also known as cohesion policies) in regional, agricultural and social affairs, and innovation policies, which bring state-of-the-art technologies to fields such as environmental protection, research and development and energy. The European Union funds these policies through an annual budget of more than €120 billion, which is largely paid for by member states. It represents a small proportion of the EU’s collective wealth (a maximum of 1.24 percent of the combined gross national income of all member states).[1]


The Treaty of Paris (1951)

The partnership that is now known as the European Union was first established in 1951 as the European Coal and Steal Community (ECSC) with the signing of Treaty of Paris by the ECSC’s founding member states: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Germany, also known as the BENELUX states.[2] Largely the brainchild of Jean Monnet and French foreign minister Robert Schuman, the ECSC established a common market for coal and steel, supervised by the Community’s High Authority, an independent body composed of international civil servants who administered the conditions of production and prices for coal and steel. The High Authority was likewise supervised by the Council, which was composed of member state representatives.[3]

In substance, the establishment of the ECSC under the Treaty of Paris was to build “common bases for economic development.”[4] In practice, however, the Treaty held a more pressing agenda: that of the maintenance of peace throughout Europe. In his Declaration of May 9, 1950, Robert Schuman addresses the “age-old opposition of France and Germany,” an opposition which had only become more tense on the heels of WWII in light of a growing global fear that Germany’s economic and industrial recuperation would spark the “potential…production of arms, ammunition and implements of war.”[5] As a solution, Schuman proposed that the Franco-German production of coal and steel be placed under the charge of a common High Authority, an event that, he hoped, would “change the destinies of those regions which have long been devoted to the manufacture of munitions of war, of which they have been the most constant victims.”[6] Schuman’s latent intentions surfaced in the wording of Treaty of Paris, whose Preamble alludes to a desire to avoid war by affirming the importance of safeguarding “world peace,” further mentioning an aspiration to build “the basis for a broader and deeper community among peoples longs divided by bloody conflicts.”[7]

The Treaties of Rome (1957)

The Treaty Establishing the European Economic Community

After a meeting of ECSC foreign ministers in 1955, held in Messina, Italy, a resolution was tabled calling for the creation of an Intergovernmental Committee to investigate the establishment of a common market. Paul Henri Spaak, a Belgian foreign minister, chaired the Committee. Accordingly, its 1956 findings, detailed in the Spaak Report, are credited with establishing the basis for the Treaty Establishing the European Economic Community (EEC Treaty) in 1957.[8]

The EEC Treaty, the first of the Treaties of Rome, was developed with the goal to “promote throughout the Community a harmonious development of economic activities.”[9] It established a common market, a customs union, and common policies, including a common commercial policy, common agricultural policy, and common transport policy. The customs union eliminated duties on imports and exports within the EEC, and established a common customs tariff for third parties. Correspondingly, the common market was founded on the principles of “four freedoms”: the free movement of persons, services, goods, and capital. Free competition was viewed as integral to the maintenance of a free market. Thus, the treaty also established certain prohibitions regarding Member State aid whose objective is to prevent restrict, or distort competition. These prohibitions address direct aid, as well as price-fixing, limits on production, and other legal restrictions placing trading parties “at a competitive disadvantage.”[10] In addition, the EEC Treaty established the institutions and decision-making structures that are still in place today, calling for the formation of the Council, Commission, European Parliament, and Court of Justice.

The Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community

The Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, or Euratom, is the second of the Rome Treaties, established in 1957 “to create the conditions necessary for the development of a powerful nuclear industry.”[11] While Euratom’s objective was the development of nuclear energy, it was also concerned with safety and the maintenance of peace, establishing security regulations and a system of institutional oversight similar to that of the EEC. Specifically, Article 52 of the Treaty calls for an Agency to be established with the “exclusive right to conclude contracts relating to the supply of ores, source, materials, and special fissile materials”[12] coming from both within and outside of the EEC. Unlike the EEC Treaty, the Euratom Treaty is still in force, and no major changes have ever taken place. [13]

The Treaty of Brussels (1967)

The 1967 Brussels Treaty, also known as the Merger Treaty, merged the institutions set up by the ECSC, the EEC, and the Euratom, combining their executive bodies and imposing a principle of budgetary unity.[14]

The Single European Act (1986)

Following an economic recession in the 1980s, Member States collaborated to revitalize European market integration and improve existing processes. In order to facilitate the establishment of a single internal market, the Single European Act (SEA) made various institutional and political changes, representing the first major amendment of the EEC Treaty since its implementation.

Most notably, the SEA increased the number of instances where the Council could take decisions using qualified majority voting (QMV) instead of unanimity, rendering the decision-making process more efficient. In addition, the powers of Parliament were broadened with the requirement that it assent when concluding an association agreement. [15]The SEA also instituted a cooperation procedure wherein the Parliament was permitted to approve or reject a proposal of the Council, giving the Parliament room to negotiate or amend proposals with the aid of the Commission. The SEA also established the European Council, which is comprised of heads of state, and provided for a twice-yearly meeting. [15]

The principal objective of the SEA, however, is outlined in the amendment of Article 8a, which sets the December 31, 1992 deadline for the “aim of progressively establishing the internal market.” To that end, the SEA tightened restrictions on internal customs tariffs, declaring that any alteration or suspension could only be decided by a QMV of the Council acting on a proposal from the Commission. It also called for the “harmonization of legislation concerning turnover taxes, excise duties and other forms of indirect taxation.” Article 8c, however, did provide some leeway for “economies showing differences in development” that may lack the resources or ability to sustain the stated objectives of the 1992 deadline. [16]

The SEA also took the novel step of injecting social and labour policy into EEC goals in order to counterbalance what might otherwise be the effects of an unchecked market, drawing particular attention to “encouraging improvements, especially in the working environment, as regards the health and safety of workers,” as well as instituting a goal of “reducing disparities between the various regions.”[16] With these new goals in mind, the SEA instituted “structural funds” for the purpose of structural adjustment in regions whose development or industry were lagging behind. These funds included the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund, the European Social Fund, and the European Regional Development fund, in addition to the European Investment Bank and other financial instruments.[16]

The Maastricht Treaty (1993)

The Treaty of Amsterdam (1999)

The Treaty of Nice (2003)

The Treaty of Lisbon (2009)


Timeline of Member State Accession

1945: The end of the Second World War marks the begining of Europe’s reconstruction.

1951 (18th of April): Founding Member States: Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg

Based on the Schuman plan, six countries sign a treaty to run their coal and steel industries under a common management with the positive side effect that the production of weapons only works in collaboration. (European Economic Community)

1973 (1st of January): New Member states: Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom

1981 (1st of January): New Member states: Greece

1986 (1st of January): New Member states: Spain and Portugal

1995 (1st of January): New Member States: Austria, Finland and Sweden.

2004 (1st of May): New Member States: Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia.

2006 (1st of January): New Member states: Romania and Bulgaria

Candidate Countries: Croatia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey

Potential candidate Countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo under UN Security Council Resolution 1244, Montenegro, Serbia, Iceland

Child Initiatives

The KIDSCREEN project (“Screening for and Promotion of Children and Adolescents Health: A European Public Health Perspective (KIDSCREEN)”) run from 2000 until 2004 and was funded by the European Commission within the Fifth Framework Programme. The “KIDSCREEN Groupe Europe” was established as a research association to continue existing after the end of the project. The aim of the study was the development and psychometric testing of a standardised, and cross-cultural questionnaire on Quality of Life for children, youth and parents to identify children at risk in terms of their subjective health. Furthermore, the instrument should also serve to monitor and evaluate Health related policies. Participants were Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands , and the United Kingdom.

Progress Initiatives [edit]


Beyond GDP: How to Measure Progress

The European Union aims to improve the measurements of social, economic, and environmental progress, wealth and well-being.
Economic indicators such as GDP were never designed to be comprehensive measures of well-being.

In November 2007, the European Commission and the European Parliament together with the Club of Rome, OECD and WWF hosted the high-level conference “Beyond GDP” with the objectives of clarifying which indices are most appropriate to measure progress, and how these can best be integrated into the decision-making process and taken up by public debate. The conference brought together over 650 policy makers, experts and civil society representatives to address these critical issues.

On 20 August 2009, the European Commission released its Communication “GDP and beyond: Measuring progress in a changing world”. The Communication—a direct outcome of the Beyond GDP conference—outlines an EU roadmap with five key actions to improve our indicators of progress in ways that meet citizens’ concerns and make the most of new technical and political developments. [17]


Child well-being

The European Union does not yet monitor Children‘s well-being systematically. However, different efforts have been made to identify indicators and to develop such an index.The Eurofound also works on policies related to better living and working conditions in Europe, that are related to children issues.

In 2006, Jonathan Bradshaw (University of York), Petra Hoelscher (UNICEF) and Dominic Richardson (University of York) developed an Index for Child Well-being in the European Union. They use 51 indicators, grouped in the following eight clusters:children’s material situation, housing, health, subjective well-being, education, children’s relationships, civic participation and risk and safety. They use a rights-based approach to identify adequate indicators.

In 2008, the report “Child poverty and well-being in the EU” was published by the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion at the European Commission.

In 2010, the European Commission requested a report on “Child poverty and child well-being in the European Union” (Summary) which also included policy recommendations and case studies.

There also exists a Working Group on the Quality of Childhood in the European Parliament.


Documents and papers on Child rights and Child well-being


  1. European Union Website
  2. Chalmers, Damian, Gareth Davies, and Giogio Monti. “European Union Law”, Caimbridge University Press, 2010. p. 8-10
  3. Chalmers, Damian, Gareth Davies, and Giogio Monti. “European Union Law”, Caimbridge University Press, 2010. p. 8-10
  5. Bartlett, Ronald W. “France and West Germany in the European Common Market.” JSTOR. Illinois Agricultural Economics. Vol. 7. No. 1. 1967. p. 1-10.
  6. Chalmers, Damian, Gareth Davies, and Giogio Monti. “European Union Law”, Caimbridge University Press, 2010. p. 8-10
  15. 15.0 15.1
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2
  17. Beyond GDP Website


See Also


External Links


Progress Papers and Publications