History of the European Union

After the Second World War, Europe was in a troubled state. Two bloody wars had been fought on the continent. European countries had been making war against one another since the Middle Ages. The relations between the countries were poor. After two catastrophic world wars, the European leaders decided that the only way of preventing war in Europe was to start to cooperate.

This cooperation began in trade and economy. Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg settled their biggest disagreements and started cooperating in the production of coal and steel. Later this cooperation was extended to other areas of life. The European Economic Community (EEC) and other joint institutions were founded. A common administration, the European Community (EC), was created in 1967. The European Community had a Council and Commission common to all members.

Establishment of the European Union. Photo: European Parliament.

The Community started expanding in the 1970s when new members joined it. For the first time the citizens could elect members to the European Community Parliament by direct popular vote in 1972.

Finland has been a member of the
European Union since 1995.

Photo: European Parliament.

In 1992 the Community members agreed on even closer cooperation. The European Community was renamed the European Union (EU). As the agreement was signed in the City of Maastricht, the treaty establishing the EU came to be known as the Maastricht Treaty.

Finland joined the European Union in 1995. Before that since 1973 Finland had had a Free Trade Agreement (EEC Agreement) with Europe. The Free Trade Agreement made it possible to trade across the borders in Europe without any customs duties.