The beginning of the European Union
The Union's aim is to promote peace, its values â€‹â€‹and the well-being of its peoples.
Treaty on the European Union, Article 3, first part
When did the EU begin? To answer that question, we have to go back to the year 1945. World War II had just ended. Europe was in ruins. Many Europeans felt that such a war in Europe should never happen again. The countries which were enemies during the war, France and Germany, took the initiative for partnership. Others joined in on it. On April 18, 1951, the Treaty of Paris was signed by Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany.
This treaty is the forerunner of the EU. It was hoped that it would stimulate the Europeans' confidence in each other and would guard the peace in Europe.
In 1952 the European Coal and Steel Community was established. Countries started working together on economical levels. Import restrictions were abolished between the countries. It was easier and cheaper to trade with each other and that was good for the economy and employment. The European Community continued to grow, more and more countries have joined in since then.
On February 7, 1992, the Treaty of Maastricht was signed. On November 1, 1993, this treaty was effective and the European Community was renamed the European Union. The collaboration was expanded: countries were now cooperating in foreign policy, justice and security too.
Since the last addition of Bulgaria and Romania on 1 January, 2007, the EU has 27 Member States. The EU is likely to increase in the future. Several countries in the Balkans, including Croatia, Serbia and Turkey would also like to join.