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Tuesday, 5 December, 2000, 15:54 GMT
How the EU was built
European parliament
The decision to establish a European Parliament came n 1975
The Nice summit is expected to be a pivotal meeting in the history of the EU, setting the future course and character of the European community and prepare it for expansion. BBC News Online looks back at some of the key moments in the history of the union.

1946

Winston Churchill calls for a "kind of United States of Europe" in a speech given at the Zurich University.

Winston Churchill
Was it all Winston Churchill's idea?
The European Federalists Union is established in Paris.

1948

The International Co-ordination of Movements for the Unification of Europe Committee, meets in the Hague. It is chaired by Winston Churchill and attended by 800 delegates. The meeting recommends the creation of a European Deliberative Assembly and a European Special Council, in charge of preparing political and economic integration of European countries. It also proposes the adoption of a Human Rights Charter and a Court of Justice.

1951

A meeting to consider the creation of a European Community of Defence is held in Paris. Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg and Germany attend the meeting alongside six observer countries - the United States, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

1955

Charles de Gaulle
General Charles de Gaulle said "non" to UK membership of the EC
The Council of Europe adopts as it emblem the blue flag with 12 golden stars on it.

1957

The treaties establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) are signed by Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands in Rome - from then on referred to as the "Treaty of Rome".

The treaty became the foundation stone of the modern-day European Community.

1962

The Council of Europe adopts the first directive. It establishes the EEC global foodstuff regulation by defining which colourants can be added to food.

1963

French President General Charles de Gaulle doubts the political will of the United Kingdom to join the community - giving rise to his famous "non" to British membership of the EEC.

1966

The EEC enters the third and last phase of the transition to the Common Market. This included the replacement of the unanimity vote by the majority system for most of the decisions of the Council of Europe.

1967

The United Kingdom re-applies to join the Community, followed by Ireland, and Denmark. General de Gaulle is still reluctant to accept British accession.

1970

Jacques Santer
The EU's darkest hour: Commission headed by Jacques Santer forced to resign in 1999
Member states approve the Davignon Report on political co-operation. The objective is to get Europe to speak with a single voice on all major international problems.

1972

Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom sign the treaties of accession to the European Communities.

1975

At a meeting of the European Council in Rome, ministers decide to establish a European Parliament elected by universal suffrage.

1986

The Single European Act, modifying the Treaty of Rome and extending majority voting, is signed.

1988

The community ratifies the Vienna Convention for the protection of the environment.

1991

Nice Summit venue
The venue of the Nice summit
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is inaugurated in London.

A European Council Summit is held in Maastricht. It reaches an agreement on the draft treaty on the European monetary union. Then British PM John Major negotiates a British opt-out.

"Europe Agreements" signed with Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

1997

The European Council meets in Amsterdam and reaches a consensus on a draft treaty for a new phase of economic and monetary union and adopts a resolution on growth and employment.

1999

The single currency, the euro, was launched on 1 January. Eleven member states adopted the new currency but three countries - Denmark, Sweden, and the UK - decided to defer a decision. The new currency has not been a resounding success - in its first year its value fell by about 30% in relation to other leading currencies.

The union was thrown into turmoil. After a scathing report suggesting corruption and mismanagement in the European Commission, all 20 commissioners were forced to step down.


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