After the Second World War, politicians in several countries in Europe were convinced that the only way to prevent another war in Europe was to unite those countries economically and politically.
French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposes integrating the coal and steel industries of western Europe.
Six countries set up the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC): Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany. In 2002 the ECSC Treaty expires, as foreseen, after 50 years.
The Treaties of Rome are signed, creating the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) and the European Economic Community (EEC). The objective of the Member States is to remove trade and tariff barriers between those countries and form a common market.
The institutions of the three European Communities (the ECSC, the EEC and Euratom) are merged. Three new institutions are formed: the European Commission, the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.
Following a decision taken in 1969 by the European Council (i.e. the Heads of State or Government of the EEC Member States), the Werner Report lays down the first blueprint for an economic and monetary union comprising the then six Member States of the EEC. For a number of reasons, the plan fails in the early 1970s.
Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom join the European Economic Community. The EEC now has nine Member States.
The governments and central banks of the nine Member States create the European Monetary System (EMS). Its main feature is the exchange rate mechanism (ERM), which establishes fixed but adjustable exchange rates between the currencies of the participating countries.
Greece joins the European Economic Community.
Spain and Portugal join the European Economic Community.
The idea of an economic and monetary union is revived in the Single European Act (SEA).
The European Council confirms the objective of achieving Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). A committee of experts chaired by Jacques Delors, President of the European Commission, examines ways of implementing EMU. Its report (the Delors Report) proposes a three-stage transition process.
The negotiation of the Treaty on European Union begins. This Treaty establishes the European Union (EU) and amends the Treaty establishing the European Community. In particular, it includes provisions on the introduction of EMU and the establishment of the European Central Bank. It is commonly referred to as the “Maastricht Treaty”.
The Maastricht Treaty is signed. It introduces new forms of cooperation between Member States’ governments – for example on defence and the areas of justice and home affairs. By adding this intergovernmental cooperation to the existing “Community” system, the Maastricht Treaty creates the European Union.
The Maastricht Treaty enters into force on 1 November after being ratified by all 12 Member States.
Austria, Finland and Sweden join the European Union.
Economic and Monetary Union is implemented in three stages.
Introduction of the euro banknotes and coins in 12 EU countries.
Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia join the European Union on 1 May.
Bulgaria and Romania join the European Union on 1 January.
On 1 December the Lisbon Treaty enters into force.
Three new European financial supervisory authorities begin operating: the European Banking Authority, the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority and the European Securities and Markets Authority. They work jointly with the European Systemic Risk Board, also founded in 2011, to ensure financial stability and to improve the EU’s supervisory framework.