22 December 2010
A historic path of today's European Union began in 1951 by the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) upon a proposal of Robert Schuman, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs. The first Member States were France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. The primary aim was to prompt co-operation between France and Germany and thus to diminish a threat of a new war. Co-operation proved as a good method of overcoming mutual tensions, so that in 1957, the treaties establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) were signed in Rome, expanding thus co-operation to new fields. In 1967, the ECSC, EEC and Euratom merged into the European Community (EC). In the following year, the customs union was established on the territory of the EC. The remaining customs duties on trade within the EC were abolished and a common external tariff was introduced.
The membership conditions, which must be fulfilled, are set before any country wishing to join the European family. These conditions were determined at the European Council meeting in Copenhagen in June 1993. The most important conditions to be fulfilled by a candidate country include: functioning of the institutions promoting human rights, protection of minorities, the rule of law and democracy. In order to withstand competitive pressures after the EU accession, a country must strengthen functioning of its own market economy and prove the capacity to implement political, economic and monetary tasks imposed by the EU membership.
Economic and Monetary Union
Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) is the name of the process of harmonisation of economic and monetary policies of the EU Member States for the purpose of introduction of the a common currency - the euro.
In the Dutch city Maastricht, the Treaty on European Union was signed in February 1992, which set the conditions to be fulfilled by the Member States wishing to join the Economic and Monetary Union. This Treaty envisaged the following three stages of introducing the euro: