European Union Resource Area

by Palgrave Macmillan

Neill Nugent's European Union Chronology

1940s | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s

1947

March

Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands agree to establish a customs union. Subsequently an economics union is established in October 1947 and a common customs tariff is introduced in January 1948.

March

France and the United Kingdom sign a military alliance, the Treaty of Dunkirk.

June

General George Marshall, United States Secretary of State, offers US aid for the economic recovery of Europe.

September

Sixteen nations join the European Recovery Programme.

 

1948

March

Brussels Treaty concluded between France, the UK and the Benelux states. The aim is to promote collective defence and improve cooperation in the economic, social and cultural fields.

April

Founding of the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC) by sixteen states.

May

A Congress is held in the Hague, attended by many leading supporters of European cooperation and integration. It issues a resolution asserting ‘that it is the urgent duty of the nations of Europe to create an economic and political union in order to assure security and social progress’.

 

1949

April

Treaty establishing North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) signed in Washington by twelve states.

May

Statute of Council of Europe signed in Strasbourg by ten states.

 

1950

May

Robert Schuman, the French Foreign Minister, puts forward his proposals to place French and German coal and steel under a common authority. He declares ‘it is no longer the moment for vain words, but for a bold act – a constructive act’.

October

René Pleven, the French Prime Minister, proposes a European Defence Community (EDC).

 

1951

April

European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Treaty signed in Paris by six states: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands

 

1952

May

EDC Treaty signed in Paris by the six ECSC states.

July

ECSC comes into operation.

 

1954

August

French National Assembly rejects EDC Treaty.

October

WEU Treaty signed by the six ECSC states plus the UK.

 

1955

June

Messina Conference of the Foreign Ministers of the six ECSC states to discuss further European integration. Spaak Committee established to study ways in which a fresh advance towards the building of Europe could be achieved.

 

1956

June

Negotiations formally open between the six with a view to creating an Economic Community and an Atomic Energy Community

 

1957

March

The Treaties of Rome signed establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).

 

1958

January

EEC and Euratom come into operation.

 

1959

January

First EEC tariff cuts and increases in quotas.

 

1960

January

European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Convention signed in Stockholm by Austria, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom. EFTA comes into force in May 1960.

December

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Treaty signed in Paris. OECD replaces OEEC and includes Canada and the United States.

 

1961

July

Signing of Association Agreement between Greece and the EEC. Comes into effect November 1962.

July–
August

Ireland, Denmark and United Kingdom request membership negotiations with the Community.

 

1962

January

Basic features of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) agreed.

July

Norway requests negotiations on Community membership.

 

1963

January

General de Gaulle announces his veto on UK membership.

January

Signing of Franco-German Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation.

July

A wide-ranging association agreement is signed between the Community and 18 underdeveloped countries in Africa – the Yaoundé Convention, which enters into force in June 1964.

 

1964

May

The GATT Kennedy Round of international tariff negotiations opens in Geneva. The Community states participate as a single delegation.

 

1965

April

Signing of Treaty Establishing a Single Council and a Single Commission of the European Communities (The Merger Treaty).

July

France begins a boycott of Community institutions to register its opposition to various proposed supranational developments

 

1966

January

Foreign Ministers agree to the Luxembourg Compromise. Normal Community processes are resumed.

 

1967

May

Denmark, Ireland and UK re-apply for Community membership.

July

1965 Merger Treaty takes effect.

July

Norway re-applies for Community membership.

December

The Council of Ministers fails to reach agreement on the re-opening of membership negotiations with the applicant states because of continued French opposition to UK membership.

 

1968

July

The Customs Union is completed. All internal customs duties and quotas are removed and the common external tariff is established.

 

1969

July

President Pompidou (who succeeded de Gaulle after his resignation in April) announces he does not oppose UK membership in principle.

July

Signing of the second Yaoundé Convention. Enters into force in January 1971.

December

Hague summit agrees on a number of important matters: strengthening the Community institutions, enlargement, establishing an economic and monetary union by 1980, and developing political cooperation (i.e. foreign policy).

 

1970

April

The financial base of the Community is changed by the Decision of 21 April 1970 on the Replacement of Financial Contributions From Member States by the Communities’ Own Resources. The Community’s budgetary procedures are regularised and the European Parliament’s budgetary powers are increased by the Treaty Amending Certain Budgetary Provisions of the Treaties.

June

Preferential trade agreement signed between the Community and Spain. Comes into effect in October 1970.

June

Community opens membership negotiations with Denmark, Ireland, Norway and United Kingdom.

October

The six accept the Davignon report on political cooperation. This provides the basis for cooperation on foreign policy matters.

 

1972

January

Negotiations between the Community and the four applicant countries concluded. Signing of treaties of accession.

May

Irish approve Community accession in a referendum.

July

Conclusion of Special Relations Agreement between Community and EFTA countries.

September

Majority vote against Community accession in a referendum in Norway.

October

Danes approve Community accession in a referendum.

October

Paris summit. Heads of Government set guidelines for the future, including reaffirmation of the goal of achieving economic and monetary union by 1980.

 

1973

January

Accession of Denmark, Ireland and United Kingdom to the Community.

January

Preferential trade agreement between the Community and most EFTA countries comes into effect. Agreements with other EFTA countries come into force later.

 

1974

December

Paris summit agrees to the principle of direct elections to the EP and to the details of a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) (the establishment of which had been agreed at the 1972 Paris and 1973 Copenhagen summits). It is also agreed to institutionalise summit meetings by establishing the European Council.

 

1975

February

Signing of the first Lomé Convention between the Community and 46 underdeveloped countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (the ACP states). The Convention replaces and extends the Yaoundé Convention.

March

First meeting of the European Council in Dublin.

June

A majority vote in favour of continued Community membership in UK referendum.

July

Signing of the Treaty Amending Certain Financial Provisions of the Treaties. This strengthens the European Parliament’s budgetary powers and also establishes the Court of Auditors.

 

1976

July

Opening of negotiations on Greek accession to the Community.

 

1977

March

Portugal applies for Community membership.

July

Spain applies for Community membership.

 

1978

October

Community opens accession negotiations with Portugal.

 

1979

February

Community opens accession negotiations with Spain.

March

European Monetary System (EMS) (which had been the subject of high-level negotiations for over a year) comes into operation.

May

Signing of Accession Treaty between Community and Greece.

June

First direct elections to the EP.

October

Signing of the second Lomé Convention between the Community and 58 ACP states.

December

For the first time the EP does not approve the Community budget. As a result the Community has to operate on the basis of ‘one-twelfths’ from 1 January 1980.

 

1981

January

Accession of Greece to Community.

October

Community Foreign Ministers reach agreement on the London Report, which strengthens and extends European Political Cooperation (EPC).

 

1983

January

Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) agreed.

June

At the Stuttgart European Council meeting approval is given to a ‘Solemn Declaration on European Union’.

 

1984

January

Free trade area between Community and EFTA established.

February

The EP approves The Draft Treaty Establishing the European Union

June

Second set of direct elections to the EP.

June

Fontainebleau European Council meeting. Agreement to reduce UK budgetary contributions (which Margaret Thatcher had been demanding since 1979) and agreement to increase Community resources by raising the VAT ceiling from 1 per cent to 1.4 per cent.

December

Signing of the third Lomé Convention between the Community and 66 ACP countries.

December

Dublin European Council meeting agrees budgetary discipline measures.

 

1985

June

Signing of accession treaties between the Community and Spain and Portugal.

June

The Commission publishes its White Paper Completing the Internal Market.

June

Milan European Council meeting approves the Commission’s White Paper. It also establishes an Intergovernmental Conference to examine various matters, including treaty reform. The decision to establish the Conference is the first time at a summit meeting that a decision is taken by a majority vote.

December

Luxembourg European Council meeting agrees the principles of the Single European Act (SEA). Amongst other things the Act incorporates various treaty revisions and confirms the objective of completing the internal market by 1992.

 

1986

January

Accession of Spain and Portugal to Community.

 

1987

June

Turkey applies for Community membership.

July

After several months delay caused by ratification problems in Ireland, the SEA comes into force.

 

1988

February

A special European Council meeting at Brussels agrees to increase and widen the Community’s budgetary base. Measures are also agreed to significantly reduce expenditure on the CAP and to double expenditure on the regional and social funds.

June

The Community and Comecon (the East European trading bloc) sign an agreement enabling the two organisations to recognise each other. As part of the agreement the Comecon states officially recognise, for the first time, the authority of the Community to negotiate on behalf of its member states.

June

Hanover European Council meeting entrusts to a committee chaired by Jacques Delors the task of studying how the Community might progress to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU)

 

1989

April

The ‘Delors Committee’ presents its report (the Delors Report). It outlines a scheme for a three-stage progression to EMU.

June

Third set of direct elections to the EP.

June

Madrid European Council meeting agrees that Stage 1 of the programme to bring about EMU will begin on 1 July 1990.

July

Austria applies for Community membership.

September

The collapse of communist governments in Eastern Europe. The process ‘begins’ with the appointment of a non-communist Prime Minister in Poland in September and ‘ends’ with the overthrow of the Ceausescu regime in Romania in December.

December

Signing of the fourth Lomé Convention between the Community and 68 ACP countries.

December

Community and USSR sign a ten-year trade and economic cooperation agreement.

December

Commission advises Council of Ministers to reject Turkey’s application for Community membership

December

Strasbourg European Council meeting accepts Social Charter and agrees to establish an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) on EMU at the end of 1990. Both decisions taken by eleven votes to one, with the United Kingdom dissenting in each case.

 

1990

April

Special Dublin European Council meeting confirms the Community’s commitment to political union.

June

Dublin European Council meeting formally agrees that an IGC on Political Union will be convened.

July

Cyprus and Malta apply for Community membership.

October

Unification of Germany. Territory of former East Germany becomes part of the Community.

October

Special Rome European Council meeting agrees that Stage 2 of EMU will begin on 1 January 1994.

December

The two IGCs on EMU and on Political Union are opened at the Rome summit.

 

1991

July

Sweden applies for Community membership.

August-
December

Break-up of the USSR

December

Maastricht European Council meeting agrees to The Treaty on European Union. The Treaty is based on three pillars: the European Communities, a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), and Cooperation in the Fields of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA). The European Communities pillar includes the strengthening of Community institutions, the extension of the Community’s legal policy competence, and a timetable for the establishment of EMU and a single currency.

December

Association (‘Europe’) Agreements signed with Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland.

 

1992

February

Treaty on European Union formally signed at Maastricht by Foreign and Finance Ministers.

March

Finland applies to join the EU.

May

After several months’ delay caused by a Court of Justice ruling, the EEA agreement between the EC and EFTA is signed.

May

Switzerland applies to join the EC.

June

In a referendum the Danish people reject the TEU by 50.7 per cent to 49.3 per cent.

September

Crisis in the ERM. Sterling and the lira suspend their membership.

September

In a referendum the French people endorse the TEU by 51 per cent to 49 per cent.

November

Norway applies to join the EU.

December

In a referendum the Swiss people vote not to ratify the EEA by 50.3 per cent to 49.7 per cent. Amongst other implications this means that Switzerland’s application to join the EU is suspended.

December

Edinburgh European Council meeting agrees on several key issues, notably: (1) Danish opt-outs from the TEU and any future common defence policy; (2) a financial perspective for 1993–9; and (3) the opening of accession negotiations in early 1993 with Austria, Finland, Sweden and Norway.

 

1993

February

Accession negotiations open with Austria, Finland, and Sweden.

April

Accession negotiations open with Norway.

May

In a second referendum the Danish people vote by 56.8 per cent to 43.2 per cent to ratify the TEU.

June

Copenhagen European Council.  It is agreed that Central and Eastern European countries wishing to become members of the EU shall do so once they meet certain economic and political conditions.

August

Following great turbulence in the currency markets, the bands for all currencies in the ERM, apart from the deutschmark and the guilder, are increased to 15 per cent.

October

German Constitutional Court ruling enables Germany to become the last member state to ratify the TEU.

November

TEU enters into force.

December

Settlement of the GATT Uruguay Round.

 

1994

January

Second stage of EMU comes into effect.

March

Committee of the Regions meets for the first time.

March

Austria, Finland, Sweden, and Norway agree accession terms with the EU.

April

Hungary and Poland apply for membership of the EU.

June

Fourth set of direct elections to the EP.

June

In a referendum on accession to the EU, the Austrian people vote in favour by 66.4 per cent to 33.6 per cent.

June

Corfu European Council. The UK vetoes Belgian Prime Minister, Jean-Luc Dehaene, as the new Commission President.

July

Jacques Santer, the Luxembourg Prime Minister, nominated as the new Commission President at a special half-day European Council meeting in Brussels.

October

Referendum in Finland on EU membership. The people vote in favour by 57 per cent to 43 per cent.

November

Referendum in Sweden on EU membership. The people vote in favour by 52.2 per cent to 46.9 per cent.

November

Referendum in Norway on EU membership. The people reject accession by 52.2 per cent to 47.8 per cent

 

1995

January

Austria, Finland and Sweden become EU members.

January

EP votes to confirm the Santer Commission: 418 votes in favour, 103 against, and 59 abstentions. The Commission is subsequently formally appointed by the representatives of the member states.

March

Schengen Accord implemented by seven EU member states: Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, and Portugal.

June

Romania and Slovakia apply to join the EU.

October

Latvia applies to join the EU.

November

Estonia applies to join the EU.

December

Lithuania and Bulgaria apply to join the EU.

 

1996

January

The Czech Republic and Slovenia apply to join the EU.

March

The IGC provided for in the Maastricht Treaty is formally opened at a special Heads of Government summit in Turin.

May

The UK government announces a policy of non-cooperation with EU decision-making following a Council of Ministers decision not to agree to a timetable for the lifting of the export ban on UK beef products.

June

A formula for ending the UK’s non-cooperation policy agreed at the Florence European Council.

 

1997

June

Amsterdam European Council agrees to the Treaty of Amsterdam. The Treaty fails to provide for the institutional change that enlargement will require, but does contain some strengthening of EU institutions and policies.

July

Commission issues its Agenda 2000 programme, which contains recommendations on how enlargement to the CEECs should be handled and how EU policies – especially the CAP and the Structural Funds – should be reformed.

October

Amsterdam Treaty formally signed by EU Foreign Ministers.

 

1998

March

Accession negotiations formally opened with Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Estonia and Cyprus.

May

At a special European Council meeting in Brussels it is agreed that eleven states will participate when the euro is launched in 1999: France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Finland and Austria.

May

Denmark and Ireland hold referenda in which the Treaty of Amsterdam is approved.

1999

January

Stage 3 of EMU and the euro come into operation, with eleven of the EU's fifteen states participating. The non-participants are Denmark, Greece, Sweden and the UK.

March

The College of Commissioners resigns following the publication of a highly critical report by the Committee of Independent Experts.

March

At a special European Council meeting in Berlin, the Heads of Government reach agreement on Agenda 2000 measures. The measures include a financial perspective for 2000–6, and CAP and Structural Fund reforms. It is also agreed to nominate Romano Prodi, the former Italian Prime Minister, to succeed Jacques Santer as Commission President.

May

Treaty of Amsterdam enters into force.

May

EP endorses Romano Prodi as Commission President-designate by 392 votes to 72, with 41 abstentions.

June

Fifth set of direct elections to the EP.

September

Prodi Commission assumes office after the EP endorses it by 414 votes to 142, with 35 abstentions.

December

Helsinki European Council meeting takes key decisions on EU enlargement.  These include that negotiations will be opened in early 2000 with six more applicant states and that Turkey will be viewed as having candidate status.  The summit also decides that the EU will establish a Rapid Reaction Force, 50,000 - 60,000 strong, by 2003.

 

2000

February

The IGC provided for in a protocol attached to the Amsterdam Treaty is opened.

Accession negotiations are opened with Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Romania, and Malta.

June

The Cotonou Agreement, a twenty year Partnership Agreement replacing the Lomé Convention, is signed by the EU and 77 ACP countries.

September

In a referendum the Danish people reject membership of the euro by 53.1 per cent to 46.9 per cent.

December

Nice European Council agrees to the Treaty of Nice.  The Treaty consists mainly of a range of institutional reforms designed to prepare the EU for enlargement.

 

2001

January

Greece becomes a member of the euro zone.

February

Treaty of Nice formally signed by EU Foreign Ministers.

June In a referendum, the Irish people reject the Treaty of Nice by 54 per cent to 46 per cent on a low 35 per cent turnout

 

2002
January Euro coins and notes come into circulation and the  national currencies of the twelve Euroland countries are phased out.

March The Convention on the future of Europe opens under the chairmanship of Valery Giscard d'Estaing.

October In a referendum the Irish people approve the Treaty of Nice by 63 per cent to 37 per cent on a 48 per cent turnout

December Copenhagen European Council meeting takes key decisions on enlargement. These include: ten states (Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Malta, Slovakia, and Slovenia) are deemed to have completed accession negotiations and will join the EU on 1 May 2004 subject to ratification procedures having been completed; Bulgaria and Romania will be able to join the EU in 2007 if they make satisfactory progress in complying with the membership criteria; the December 2004 summit will authorize the immediate opening of accession negotiations with Turkey if the Commission makes a recommendation to this effect based on Turkey having continued with its reform process.

2003
February The Treaty of Nice enters into force

Croatia applies to join the EU.

March In the first referendum to be held in the '2004 enlargement' round, the Maltese people vote to join the EU by 53.6% to 46.4 % on a 91 % turnout

April In a referendum, the Slovenian people vote to join the EU by 89.6% to 10.4% on a 60.3% turnout.

The Treaty of Accession is signed in Athens by representatives of the 15 existing EU member states and the 10 applicant states with which negotiations have been completed

In a referendum, the Hungarian people vote to join the EU by 84% to 16% on a 45.6% turnout.

May In a referendum, the Lithuanian people vote to join the EU by 91.0 per cent to 9.0 percent on a 63.4 per cent turnout.

In a referendum, the Slovak people vote to join the EU by 92.5 per cent to 6.2 per cent on a 52.1 per cent turnout.

June The European Convention on the Future of Europe agrees on the contents of the Draft Treaty Establishing a Constituion for Europe

In a referendum, the Polish people vote to join the EU by 77.5 per cent to 22.5 per cent on a 58.8 per cent turnout.

In a referendum, the Czech people vote to join the EU by 77.3 per cent to 23.7 per cent on a 55.2 per cent turnout.

July The Cypriot House of Representatives votes unanimously to approve Cyprus's Treat of Accession to the EU. (Of the ten states to sign the April 2003 Accession Treaty, Cyprus is the only one not to hold a referendum)

September In a referendum, the Estonian people vote to join the EU by 66.8 per cent to 32.2 per cent on a 64.0 per cent turnout

In a referendum, the Latvian people vote to join the EU by 67.0 per cent to 32.3 per cent on a 72.5 per cent turnout.

October The IGC charged with negotiation a constitutional treaty is opened.
December The Brussels European Council meeting fails to agree on the contents of the constitutional treaty and the IGC is suspended.

2004
March Macedonia applies to join the EU
The Brussels European Council meeting decides to re-start the IGC, with a view to a constitutional treaty being agreed at the June European Council.

May Ten countries become members of the EU: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia

June Sixth set of direct elections to the EP

The European Council agrees on the content of the Constitutional Treaty

At a special meeting of the European Council it is agreed that Portugese Prime Minister, José Manuel Barroso, will be nominated to be President of the European Commission.

October Barroso withdraws his College-designate from the process of EP approval so as to avoid the possibility of rejection.

The EP approves the Barroso College following two personnel changes and other changes of portfolio.

The Constitutional Treaty is formally signed in Rome by Heads of Government or State.

December The European Council agrees that accession negotiations should be opened with Croatia in March 2005 and with Turkey in October 2005, provided certain conditions are met.
2005
March

The Spanish people vote in a referendum to ratify the Constitutional Treaty by 76.7 per cent to 23.3 per cent on a 42.3 per cent turnout.
 

May

The French people vote in a referendum not to ratify the Constitutional Treaty by 54.9 per cent to 45.1 per cent on a 69.7 per cent turnout.
 

June The Dutch people vote in a referendum not to ratify the Constitutional Treaty by 61.7 per cent to 38.3 per cent on a 63 per cent turnout.
 
July

The Luxembourg people vote in a referendum to ratify the Constitutional Treaty by 56.5 per cent to 43.5 per cent on a 90.5 per cent turnout.
 

October The EU opens accession negotiations with Turkey and Croatia.
December The European Council agrees on the contents of the 2007-13 financial perspective.