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A timeline of the EU

1948
Plans for a peaceful Europe
In the wake of World War II nationalism is out of favour in large parts of continental Europe and support for federalism is high. The European Union of Federalists organises a Congress at The Hague in 1948 in the hope of drawing up a European constitution. But the UK rejects the federal approach and the result is the Council of Europe a loose grouping that becomes a guardian of Europe's human rights.
1949
Nato is born
The Washington Treaty is signed by the USA Canada and 10 Western European states Britain France the Benelux countries Iceland Italy Norway and Portugal. The key feature of the pact is a mutual defence clause if one country is attacked the others will come to its defence. The US is supportive of European integration but it is another year before real progress is made in this field.
1950
The Schuman Declaration
French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman announces a plan for France and Germany to pool coal and steel production and invites other states to join them. His plan is based on the idea that European unity is the key to peace. Solidarity in production he said would make war between France and Germany "not merely unthinkable but materially impossible."
1951
Treaty of Paris establishes European Coal and Steel Community ECSC
Six countries sign the treaty France Germany the Benelux states and Italy. It sets up a High Authority to manage the coal and steel industries and a Common Assembly a precursor of the European parliament. The Dutch supported by the Germans also insist on the creation of a Council of Ministers made up of ministers from member states to counterbalance the supranational High Authority.
1952
The ECSC begins work with Jean Monnet at its head
The first president of the High Authority is Jean Monnet the inspiration behind the Schuman Declaration. The ECSC guarantees German coal to the French steel industry. It also provides funds to upgrade Belgian and Italian coal mines. Germany agrees to this and to the dismantling of its steel cartels in order to gain international respectability.
1954
The rise and fall of the European Defence Community
In response to the Korean War the USA insists that Europe must contribute more to its own defence and that Germany must rearm. In 1952 the six ECSC members agree to create a European Defence Community which envisages German soldiers joining a European army. But the French parliament delays ratification and ultimately rejects the idea in 1954.
1957
The Treaty of Rome a first step towards the common market
The six members of the ECSC sign the Treaty of Rome setting up the European Economic Community EEC and the European Atomic Energy Community Euratom. The EEC aims to create a common market a customs union plus free movement of capital and labour. To please France it also promises subsidies to farmers. Euratom's goal is the joint development of nuclear energy.
1958
The EEC takes off dominating the other European communities
The EEC starts work and quickly establishes itself as the most important of the European communities. It has a commission a council of ministers and an advisory parliamentary assembly whose members are drawn from national parliaments. At the same time the European Court of Justice comes into existence to interpret the Treaty of Rome and rule in disputes over Community decisions.
1960
EFTA is launched another kind of Europe
An alternative to the EEC emerges when Austria Denmark Norway Portugal Sweden Switzerland and the UK set up EFTA the European Free Trade Association. Like the EEC EFTA aims to establish free trade but it opposes uniform external tariffs and sees no need for supranational institutions.
1961
Britain Denmark and Ireland apply to join the EEC
The UK's decision to apply for membership of the EEC was taken by the government of Harold Macmillan a Conservative. It was not welcomed by French President Charles de Gaulle who saw it as a threat to his goal of using the EEC to amplify France's voice in world affairs. He was also concerned about the UK's close ties with the US.
1963
French President Charles de Gaulle vetoes British membership
France's nationalist leader Charles de Gaulle refuses to back the UK's application to join the EEC saying that the British government lacks commitment to European integration.
1967
Treaty creating a single Council and a Commission for the three communities comes into effect
1968
The European Community customs union is completed
1973
Britain Denmark and Ireland join the European Community
The three countries and Norway had failed to join 10 years earlier because of General de Gaulle's veto on British membership. This time all sign an accession treaty in 1972 but Norwegians reject it in a referendum later in the year. Denmark and Ireland hold successful referendums. The UK does not hold a referendum until 1975 after renegotiating its entry terms the result is twotoone in favour.
1979
The road to the euro begins with the EMS
The European Monetary System EMS introduces the European currency unit Ecu and the exchange rate mechanism ERM. The Ecu a unit for the communitys internal budget also takes on some of the features of a real currency it is used for travellers cheques and bank deposits. The ERM gives national currencies an exchange rate band denominated in Ecus. All EC members join except the UK.
1981
Greece becomes the ECs 10th member
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MEP Seats

  Votes MEPs
Party % +/- % Total +/-
EPP 33.4 -1.4 264 -18
Socialists 23.2 -4.1 183 -26
Liberal 11.0 +1.6 84 +5
Green 7.4 +1.3 50 +9
Left 5.3 -0.6 34 -2
UEN 3.4 +1.6 28 +2
Ind/Dem 2.7 -1.8 21 -15
No Group 13.6 +3.4 72 +3.4
0 of 27 countries declared.

UK Total MEP Seats

Party Votes MEPs
% +/- % Total +/-
CON 27.7 1.0 *26 1
UKIP 16.5 0.3 13 1
LAB 15.7 -6.9 13 -5
LD 13.7 -1.2 11 1
GRN 8.6 2.4 2 0
BNP 6.2 1.3 2 2
SNP 2.1 0.7 2 0
PC 0.8 -0.1 1 0
OTH 8.5 2.4 0 0
SF 1 0
DUP 1 0
72 of 72 seats declared. Vote share figures exclude Northern Ireland as it has a separate electoral system to the rest of the UK
* Includes UCUNF MEP elected in Northern Ireland
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