Today is Europe Day. Observed on May 9 each year, this day marks the presentation of the Schuman Declaration in 1950, which proposed and eventually led to the creation of a European Coal and Steel Community, the forerunner to the European Union.
The initial idea of the community was that its founding members – France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg – would pool their coal and steel resources and create a common market for them by lifting import and export duties.
The idea was partly economic and partly political, and so far, the level of integration and also the main issues which followed were somehow always related to the two separate yet well integrated aspects.
Key to remember is the fact that the declaration by the French foreign minister Robert Schuman came just five years after World War Two. The idea was that by merging the economic interests of France and Germany together, it would reduce the risk of conflict in the future.
The declaration reads:
“The solidarity in production thus established will make it plain that any war between France and Germany becomes not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible.”
The treaty governing the community was signed In Paris, in 1951 the countries which formed part of the initial community signed the forming treaty which came into force the following year. The six, worked together to deepen their economic integration which was sealed with the establishment of the European Economic Community, with the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1958. The next major step was the Single European Act of 1985 which set the objective of creating a single common market, while the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 saw the birth of the European Union, then featuring 12 countries, and set the path to economic and monetary union.
The European project, continued to expand and there were significant steps towards enlargement, which reached the highest level in 2004, when 10 countries, mostly from the Central and Eastern Europe, joined the EU.
The enlarged Europe presented a number of challenges, mainly related to how deep the integration should be and how wide it should get. In recent years, the European project started to face major challenges, around migration, security, the economy and anti-EU sentiments in some parts of the bloc. These issues were some of the main elements on which an electoral choice was presented to the British and which eventually, through a referendum opted to leave the EU. This was the first country to ever leave, even though the UK was one of the most reluctant to ever join.
Corporate Dispatch will be celebrating Europe Day, through a special edition of Europe explained carrying a series of messages for our readers throughout the day, including messages from European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, European Commission Vice President Federica Mogherini, Malta’s EC Representation Head Dr. Elena Grech, Maltese MEPs Dr Miriam Dalli and Dr Roberta Metsola,