60 years earlier...
The term "Treaties of Rome" refers to two treaties signed in Rome on 25 March 1957:
- the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community.
- the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (better known as Euratom).
Several steps preceded and prepared the signature of these two treaties.
A COMMUNITY TO LAY THE FIRST STONE
The Second World War remains the largest and most deadly conflict in the history of humanity. When the atrocities came to an end in 1945, millions of people found themselves without shelter, with the economy having completely collapsed and more than half of the industrial infrastructure destroyed. The shock of two World Wars in less than 30 years finally led intellectuals, politicians and philosophers to settle old disputes by "thinking Europe" and implementing its construction.
With this in mind, Robert Schuman proposed a plan for economic and social union designed to increase prosperity and ensure peace. Six European countries - Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands - reacted enthusiastically to this proposal. They decided to commit together to the path of economic cooperation and lay the first stone of the European edifice by pooling their coal and steel resources. Thus, they renounced part of their national sovereignty within a limited sector. In 1951, the Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was signed in Paris and gave rise to the first form of European integration.
THE PATH TO TWO NEW COMMUNITIES
The success of the ECSC provoked a project for a "European Defence Community" (EDC). But, in 1954, this project for a European army broke down. After this failure, the Messina Conference (1955) brought together the Foreign Ministers of the six founding countries. Objective: to relaunch European integration by refocusing on the economy. Paul-Henri Spaak represented Belgium. The conference led to the drafting of the "Messina Declaration", which recommended a new step in European construction: economic union through the development of common institutions, the gradual merging of national economies, the creation of a common market and the gradual standardisation of social policies.
The participants at the Messina conference also appointed Paul-Henri Spaak as the President of a committee in charge of formulating clear and precise proposals concerning the creation of new communities in the economic and nuclear fields.
These proposals were presented to the intergovernmental conference held at the Château of Val Duchesse in Brussels during the summer of 1956.
Two years of negotiations and meetings were required for the Spaak committee to arrive at the signature of the treaties behind the new communities: the European Economic Community (EEC Treaty) and the European Coal and Steel Community (Euratom Treaty).
These two treaties were signed in Rome on 25 March 1957 by Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands and came into force on 1 January 1958.
The Treaty establishing the European Economic Community aimed to create a single market where goods, labour, services and capital ("four fundamental freedoms") could circulate freely. It also provided for the creation of a customs union (abolition of customs duties between Member States) and common policies (common agricultural policy, common trade policy, common transport policy, etc.).
The Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community created Euratom. The mission of Euratom was to pool the nuclear industries of Member States (conditions for the development of nuclear industries within each member country, introduction of identical security standards, civilian and non-military applications, etc.) and coordinate nuclear energy research programmes.
Over time, with cooperation between Members States growing increasingly close and the increase in the number of candidate countries to accession, several treaties succeeded one another in order to meet the new needs of a Europe in motion. Main objective: to improve the European Union whilst also taking its functioning even further.
60 years of treaties