Historical Atlas
European Integration
European Integration
until 1969

European Integration

Economically, the EEC, also referred to as the common market, was a success story. Trade between the member countries increased, the common market being beneficial to all member countries; WEST GERMANY turned out to be the community's strongest economy. The EEC subsidized Europe's agricultural sector, claiming that Europe, in the course of the 20th century twice experienced severe famine and that securing the ability to feed itself was of strategic importance. Subsidies for agriculture consumed c. 70 % of the EEC revenue, countries such as FRANCE and the NETHERLANDS, the latter the "Garden of Europe", being the main beneficiaries, while West Germany became the most significant net contributor to the EEC budget. Another EEC policy was to provide underdeveloped regions with special funds intended to stimulate economic development.
A number of countries applied for EEC membership; acceptance depended not only on economic conditions - such as the application of EU standards, the METRIC SYSTEM introduced by the United Kingdom in 1967, a currency based on the decimal system, also introduced by the UK in 1967, but also on political conditions - member candidates had to be parliamentary democracies, had to provide ethnic and religious minorities with protection, had to respect human rights. The UK, IRELAND and DENMARK joined in 1973 ( NORWAY also had applied, but the Norwegian population rejected EEC membership in a referendum. EFTA shrunk significantly, losing key members.
In 1975 the EEC was renamed EC. In 1981 GREECE joined, in 1986 SPAIN and PORTUGAL - all three former military dictatorships; here EC entry conditions had contributed to peaceful transition to parliamentary democracy.
In 1989 COMECON practically was dissolved; German Unification 1990 brought Eastern Germany into the EU. The MAASTRICHT TREATY of 1991 renamed the EC EU and called for a common European currency, the EURO (introduced 2002). Practically, the exchange rates of many European countries had been tied to the German Mark since the late 1960es, in what was referred to as the CURRENCY SNAKE. Also, European Union passports replaced national passports. The SCHENGEN AGREEMENTS abolished border checks at most inner-EU borders.
In 1995, SWEDEN, FINLAND and AUSTRIA joined the EU; Norway again voted against an EU entry in a plebiscite. Presently, many nations of eastern central Europe and of the Eastern Mediterranean look forward to becoming EU members.

While the EU has been very successfully in the past, the large budget spent on subsidizing the agricultural sector has caused overproduction; the EU has taken on the practice of subsidizing food exports. This policy requires reform, as the European economy is not as vibrant as it was in the 1970s; significant cuts have to be made. The large number of members requires a lot of paperwork, as every text has to be translated into numerous languages - the official EU languages include English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Finnish and Greek; the situation will become much more complex after the candidates will be admitted. EU policy has long been dominated by the axis Paris-Bonn, by two founding members, France the most prominent political power, West Germany the most prominent economic power. The increased and further increasing number of members requires a reform in the way the EU is run, as especially some of the smaller members are not always happy with the way the EU is run.

European Integration History Index, from WWW Virtual Library
The European Union Online
Summaric descriprion of the Schengen Agreement and its history, from German Foreign Office; from Swedish Embassy, Den Haag; from Activities of the European Union
DOCUMENTS Schengen Agreement, 1985/1990, posted by Oslo Univ.
Treaty of Maastricht, 1991, posted by European Documentation Centre
Virtual Library of the European Documentation Centre, Documents

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted March 15th 2003, last revised on November 1th 2004

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