The Green Papers Worldwide
Membership and History

Origins of the EUROPEAN UNION: the original 12 EU member-states

The EUROPEAN UNION (EU) has its origins in the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), created via a treaty signed at Paris, 18 April 1951 (effective, 25 July 1952) between Belgium, France, Germany (the Federal Republic: at the time, consisting only of so-called "West Germany"), Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The ECSC was originally intended to gradually abolish trade barriers, customs duties and transportation difficulties involving coal and steel throughout the geographical area covered by its 6 members and this was, indeed, done during 1953 and 1954.

The 6 ECSC members agreed to expand the purview of their original agreement through the creation of two new entities- the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC) and the European Economic Community (EEC) (this latter known colloquially as the European "Common Market")- via the Treaty of Rome, signed on 25 March 1957 and coming into force 1 January 1958. Of these, the "Common Market"/EEC became the most well-known and is, therefore, historically considered the truest forerunner of the eventual EU (thus, the birthdate of what would eventually become the European Union is generally considered to be the effective date of the Treaty of Rome- that is: 1 January 1958).

Under the terms of a treaty signed at Brussels on 8 April 1965 (effective, 1 July 1967) between the "Common Market"'s "Inner 6" (the "Outer 7" being those countries which had founded EFTA- the European Free Trade Association- in 1960, largely in response to the EEC), the ECSC, EAEC and the EEC- while maintaining their separate existences- were all placed under the umbrella of the European Communities (EC), a rubric which was intended to embrace- among other things- the establishment of a permanent European Council of Ministers (to represent the EC's Member-States as separate Nation-States), a European Parliament (to, eventually, represent the entire People of Europe [that is, the totality of the citizenry of EC Member-States) and a European Court of Justice. The EC, therefore, put itself forward as a vehicle through which, perhaps, the political and economic integration of Europe as a whole might, one day, be achieved.

The EUROPEAN UNION (EU) was a further means to the aforementioned potential end and a product of the Maastricht Treaty- negotiated 9-11 December 1991 and signed 7 February 1992- which sought, among other things, to better define European (as opposed to the more usual national) citizenship and to eventually ordain a European Constitution and, above all, create a common European currency (the euro). By the time of the Maastricht Treaty, the EC had already expanded to 12 Member-States and, in order for the new EU to formally come into being, the Maastricht Treaty had to be formally ratified by all 12 EC countries.

The table below shows the growth of the EEC/"Common Market" become EC, as well as the process through which the EU came into effect on 1 November 1993. Except where the term "referendum" (meaning Ratification was by popular vote) specifically appears, Ratification was by legislative action per the constitutional processes of each EU Member-State.

Original EU MEMBER-STATE Membership in the EEC ("Common Market") Ratification of the Maastricht Treaty creating the EUROPEAN UNION (EU)
BELGIUM 1 January 1958 November 1992
DENMARK 1 January 1973 18 May 1993 (referendum) [had previously rejected the Treaty by referendum, 2 June 1992]
FRANCE 1 January 1958 20 September 1992 (referendum)
GERMANY 1 January 1958 [WEST GERMANY only until German reunification, 3 October 1990] December 1992 [a constitutional challenge to Germany's membership in the EU was resolved in favor of EU membership, October 1993]
GREECE 1 January 1981 31 July 1992
IRELAND 1 January 1973 18 June 1992 (referendum)
ITALY 1 January 1958 29 October 1992
LUXEMBOURG 1 January 1958 2 July 1992
NETHERLANDS 1 January 1958 15 December 1992
PORTUGAL 1 January 1986 10 December 1992
SPAIN 1 January 1986 November 1992
UNITED KINGDOM [GREAT BRITAIN] 1 January 1973 2 August 1993

NOTE: NORWAY rejected membership in the EEC ("Common Market") in a referendum, 24-25 September 1972.

UNITED KINGDOM [GREAT BRITAIN] voted, on 23 June 2016 (in what is colloquially referred to as 'Brexit') to withdraw from the EU.

Expansion of the EUROPEAN UNION: Member-States added post-Maastricht

The following table shows those countries that have joined the EU since its first having come into being in November 1993.

additional EU Member-State effective date of Membership
AUSTRIA 1 January 1995
BULGARIA 1 January 2007
CROATIA 1 July 2013
CYPRUS 1 May 2004
ESTONIA 1 May 2004
FINLAND 1 January 1995
HUNGARY 1 May 2004
LATVIA 1 May 2004
LITHUANIA 1 May 2004
MALTA 1 May 2004
POLAND 1 May 2004
ROMANIA 1 January 2007
SLOVAKIA 1 May 2004
SLOVENIA 1 May 2004
SWEDEN 1 January 1995
CZECHIA [formerly
'Czech Republic']
1 May 2004

NOTE: NORWAY rejected membership in the EU in a referendum, 28 November 1994.


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