EU – The European Union

Why was the EU created and when did it happen? It all started as a peace project in Europe, but there have been many challenges.

Accessibility icon EU – The European Union

From war to peace

Following the First and Second World Wars, Europe had been left in ruins after many years of conflict and war.

On Tuesday 9 May 1950, the French foreign minister, Robert Schuman proposed a union he called The European Coal and Steel Community. The idea had been developed by the French diplomat Jean Monnet. The purpose was to bring the countries together to cooperate on trade and economy rather than waging war on each other. The agreement was put in place on 25 July 1952, and this was the start of what we today know as the EU.

The first countries to join the union were Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.


The four freedoms of the EU

The EU is fundamentally built on what is called the four freedoms, which were originally found in the Treaty of Rome from 1957. The Treaty of Rome was an agreement of economic cooperation across national borders. The aim was to create free movement of goods, services, capital and people within the Union.

The four freedoms of the EU include

  • … the freedom to establish and provide services. If a council wants to build a new town hall, they need to put it out to tender. All construction companies within the EU can then compete for the contract to build it.
  • … free movement of capital. Money can be deposited in banks anywhere within the EU.
  • … free movement of goods. EU countries can sell their goods to other EU countries without the need to pay any additional duties (fees).
  • … free movement of people. Any person who is an EU citizen is allowed to move to another EU country to work or study.
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