Wednesday, 7 May 2014

25 March 1957: Treaties of Rome

Preamble to the Treaty Establishing the European Economic Community which was signed in Rome on 25 March 1957:

“His Majesty The King of the Belgians, the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, the President of the French Republic, the President of the Italian Republic, Her Royal Highness The Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, Her Majesty The Queen of the Netherlands,

Determined to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe,

Resolved to ensure the economic and social progress of their countries by common action to eliminate the barriers which divide Europe,

Affirming as the essential objective of their efforts the constant improvement of the living and working conditions of their peoples,

Recognising that the removal of existing obstacles calls for concerted action in order to guarantee steady expansion, balanced trade and fair competition,

Anxious to strengthen the unity of their economies and to ensure their harmonious development by reducing the differences existing between the various regions and the backwardness of the less favoured regions,

Desiring to contribute, by means of a common commercial policy, to the progressive abolition of restrictions on international trade,

Intending to confirm the solidarity which binds Europe and the overseas countries and desiring to ensure the development of their prosperity, in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

Resolved by thus pooling their resources to preserve and strengthen peace and liberty, and calling upon the other peoples of Europe who share their ideal to join in their efforts,

Have decided to create a European Economic Community…"

1957 Italian poster celebrating the Treaties of Rome


The purpose of the 1951 ECSC Treaty was to create interdependence in coal and steel so that one country could not rearm without the others knowing about it. The ECSC did manage to create a degree of trust between the member countries, though not enough to make the EDC and EPC plans succeed. The 1955 Messina Conference nonetheless concluded that “…the time has come to make a fresh advance towards the building of Europe”. The creation of a common market and the integration of the nuclear energy industry were proposed; it was considered that there would be less resistance from member countries to cooperating on economic matters (rather than on military or political matters). The ultimate aim of European integration remained prosperity, peace and common security; it was to be achieved, at least initially, through a pragmatic approach: stimulating trade between European countries.

The immediate purpose of a common market was to transform the conditions of trade and manufacture of the member states, for them to have a common trading policy. Commercial exchange between them would be tariff-free (i.e. there would be a customs union) in order to keep costs down. Combining resources would stimulate growth, increase the standard of living, and make Europe better able to compete with the United States.

Britain did not support the idea of joining a common market, seeing it, in the words of Herbert Morrison as: “…the end of Britain as an independent European state (…) the end of a thousand years of history!”

As a result of the Messina Conference, France, West Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Italy signed the Treaties of Rome on March 25th 1957. These treaties set up the European Economic Community (EEC) to create a common market, and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) to develop peaceful applications of atomic energy.

The Rome Treaties came into force on January 1st 1958. Increased economic cooperation between The Six, pushing European integration further, was widely approved at the time, including by workers’ unions.

The purpose of the Rome Treaties is summarized in the preamble (cf. above document): ever closer union; economic and social progress; elimination of trade barriers; improving living and working conditions; steady economic expansion, balanced trade and fair competition; unity of economies; reducing the economic differences between regions; a common commercial policy to fight restrictions on international trade; solidarity between Europe and overseas countries; pooling resources to preserve and strengthen peace and liberty. Other European countries were free to apply to join the EEC. The EEC was not just about having a single market with free movement of goods, services, capital and people; it was about improving the lives of all citizens...

The way that the EEC was to be run however did not give that much power to its supranational institutions since the decision-making authority was basically the Council of Ministers; in other words, the EEC was essentially run by an inter-governmental organization and not a supranational structure. From a federalist point of view, the EEC was not a total success, but nonetheless a positive step towards unification and the construction of a political Europe. The common market did manage to stimulate economic growth; even the UK wanted to become part of the EEC, applying for membership in 1962

The EEC Treaty established a Council of Ministers (decision-making role), a Commission (executive role), a Parliamentary Assembly (advisory role), an Economic and Social Committee (advisory role), and a Court of Justice. With the Merger Treaty of 1967, the Council and the Commission become institutions shared by the three Communities (ECSC, EEC and Euratom) and there was a common budget.

In 1993, when the European Union (EU) was created, the EEC was renamed the European Community (EC). The Lisbon Treaty of 2009 got rid of the EC and the Treaty of Rome was renamed the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

An EEC/EU treaty is a binding agreement between member countries, approved voluntarily and democratically. It sets out objectives, rules for institutions, how decisions are made and the relationship between the supranational authority and its member countries. Treaties are amended and new treaties are signed to make the institutions more efficient and transparent, to introduce new areas of cooperation (such as the single currency), or to prepare for new member countries. Under the treaties, institutions can adopt legislation, which the member countries then implement.

No comments:

Post a Comment