60 years of Europe
The shock of two World Wars in less than 30 years led intellectuals and politicians to propose new solutions for settling past disputes and building foundations for a more integrated Europe based on solidarity.
In 1951, the French Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, presented a plan to ensure that European countries would develop together in economic and political terms in order to increase prosperity and ensure lasting peace on the European continent. Six countries (France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Italy) committed to economic cooperation for the cross-border coal and steel market. The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) - the first form of European integration - was created.
Under the influence of the Belgian Foreign Minister, Paul-Henri Spaak, the six founding States decided to go further. In 1957, they signed the Treaties of Rome, that led to the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC) and Euratom.
On 25 March 2017, the European Union will celebrate the 60th anniversary of this signature.
When it was founded, the European Economic Community aimed to create a single market, namely a zone where goods, labour, services and capital could circulate freely.
Over time, the European Union's field of action has expanded greatly. The creation of a single market has contributed to the economic prosperity of its Member States, also through the introduction of a single currency, the Euro. The Union has developed a policy of economic and social cohesion in order to reduce the differences between the richest and poorest regions. It has enacted strict standards for preserving and improving the environment. It has reinforced cooperation between its members in order to establish a common area of freedom, security and justice for its citizens. It has made its mark on the international stage through the development of its foreign and security policy and is the main global contributor to development aid.
Nevertheless, over the past decade, a growing number of crises has shaken the financial, political and institutional union. Severely affected by the 2008 global economic crisis, faced with the threat of terrorism, required to find solutions to an acute migration crisis being called into questions by the BREXIT vote, the European Union is experiencing an unprecedented period of crisis which is generating a feeling of disenchantment and repudiation.
Following the results of the BREXIT referendum in the United Kingdom, the 27 Member States met at the Summits of Bratislava and Valletta to analyse the current state of the European Union and lay the foundations of a renewed European project.
On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the signature of the Treaties of Rome, the heads of state and government of the Member States will adopt a Rome Declaration on 25 March. This declaration should reaffirm the common values and reflect the wish to continue the European project and develop concrete short and medium-term responses to citizens' preoccupations.
It will be a time for marking its unity as well as an opportunity to present a common vision for the coming years.