The founding countries (1957) :

   Belgium            France           Germany        Italy              Luxembourg            The Netherlands

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The European Union: a time-line

January 14th, 1962: adoption of the first regulations on the Common Agricultural Policy

July 1st, 1968: realization of the Customs Union enters the Six

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The customs duties between the six members of the EEC are completely removed. A common customs tariff is set on the external borders of the EEC.

January 1st, 1973: Europe of the 6 in Europe of the 9

The first widening of the EEC with the accession of

Denmark,            Ireland                 and the United Kingdom.

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June 14th, 1985: signature of the Schengen Agreements

In Schengen, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and FRG sign  the agreements planning the progressive abolition of the borders between these States and the free movement of persons.

But the convention of implementation of the agreement is signed only on June 19th, 1990 and is actually implemented on March 26th, 1995.

February 7th, 1992: signature of the treaty of Maastricht which creates the European Union

In Maastricht, in February the treaty on the European Union is signed. This one is based on 3 pillars: the Communities (ECSC, EC, EAEC), the foreign politics and of common security (CFSP), co-operation justice home matters. Besides, the EEC becomes the European Community (EC).

In this Treaty of Maastricht, a European citizenship is instituted, the powers of the European Parliament are reinforced, and the economic and monetary Union (UEM) is launched. The treaty of Maastricht is implemented on November 1st, 1993.

January 1st, 1995: Europe of the 15

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The fourth widening with the entry of Austria, Finland, and of Sweden in European Union (EU).

January 1st, 1999: The Euro becomes the single currency of 11 of the Member States

11 States now form the “euro zone”: Austria, Belgium, Spain, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and FRG. The euro then becomes officially the legal currency of these States.

Greece will join them on January 1st, 2001, Slovenia on January 1st, 2007, Cyprus and Malta on January 1st, 2008, Slovakia on January 1st, 2009, Estonia on January 1st, 2011 and Latvia on January 1st, 2014, thus rising to 18 the number of countries in the “euro zone”.


The coins and the notes in euro were released only on January 1st, 2002. But the individuals could already pay their taxes or issue cheques in Euros by 1999.

April 16th, 2003: towards a Europe with 25

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A Treaty of Accession at the EU of ten new States is signed in Athens. It is about Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia. To come into effect, the treaty must be ratified by the Fifteen and the ten new members before May 1st, 2004. It is on this date that their entry in the Union becomes effective.

October 29th, 2004: European signature of the constitution project

Gathered in Brussels on June 17th and 18th, 2004, the leaders of the 25 States of the European Union adopt, after ultimate and difficult negotiations, the first “constitutional treaty” of the European Union. Signed in Rome on October 29th, 2004, it gathers in only one document, simpler and readable, all of the texts which organize the operation of the EU. For the European Constitution to be implemented, it must be ratified by each State before the end of 2006. 

January 1st, 2007: Europe with 27

 The Treaty of Accession signed on April 25th, 2005 becomes effective. Romania and Bulgaria become members of the European Union.

July 1st, 2013: Europe with 28


The Treaty of Accession  signed in Brussels on December 9th, 2011 becomes effective. Croatia becomes the 28th member of the European Union. The population of the EU reaches  more than 508 million people from now on.

Procedures to enter the European Union.

Any European State […] can ask to become member of the Union”, provided it respects its values (freedom, democracy, respect of the human rights, fundamental freedoms and the Rule of law) (Article 49 of the treaty on the EU).

Process of adhesion :

Any application to join is the object of an opinion of the Commission, and a Council Decision, which allots a statute of applicant country to the petitioning country. This statute does not necessarily lead to the immediate opening of the negotiations for adhesion. For that, the applicant country must match a certain number of conditions.

The country must answer the criteria of eligibility, which were defined at the time of the European Council of Copenhagen in 1993 and were supplemented at the time of the European Council of Madrid in 1995. These are: 

  • political criteria: the stability of the institutions must ensure democracy, the Rule of law, human rights as well as the respect and protection of minorities;
  • economic criteria: the existence of a viable market economy, the capacity to cope with the pressure of competition and the forces of the market inside the EU;
  • the capacity to assume the obligations of Member State, rising from the right and the policies of the EU (or community asset), including adhesion with the objectives of the political, economic and monetary Union.