The enlargement of the European Union
Europe at the service of peace and democracy
Community Europe has celebrated its 50th anniversary.
On 9 May 1950, Robert Schuman made history by putting to the Federal
Republic of Germany, and to the other European countries, the idea of
creating a Community of pacific interests. He began a completely new
process in international relations by proposing to old nations to
together recover, by exercising jointly their sovereignty, the influence
which each of them was incapable of exercising alone.
The construction of Europe has since then moved forward every day. It
represents the most significant undertaking of the 20th century and a
new hope at the dawn of the new century. It derives its momentum from
the far-sighted and ambitious project of the founding fathers who
emerged from the second world war driven by the resolve to establish
between the peoples of Europe the conditions for a lasting peace.
A historic success
As Europe approaches the dawn of the third millennium, a look back over
the 50 years of progress towards European integration shows that the
European Union is a historic success. Countries which were hitherto
enemies, today share a common currency, the euro, and manage their
economic and commercial interests within the framework of joint
Europeans now settle their differences through peaceful means, applying
the rule of law and seeking conciliation. The spirit of superiority and
discrimination has been banished from relationships between the Member
States, which have entrusted to the four Community institutions, the
Council, the Parliament, Commission and the Court of Justice, the
responsibility for mediating their conflicts, for defining the general
interest of Europeans and for pursuing common policies.
Economic integration every day highlights the need for and takes people
closer to political union. At international level, the European Union is
wielding increasing influence commensurate with its economic importance,
the standard of living of its citizens, its place in diplomatic,
commercial and monetary forums.
The European Community derives its strength from common values of
democracy and human rights, which rally its peoples, and it has
preserved the diversity of cultures and languages and the traditions
which make it what it is. Its transatlantic solidarity and the
attractiveness of its model has enabled a united Europe to withstand the
pressure of totalitarianism and to consolidate the rule of law.
The European Community stands as a beacon for the expectations of
countries near and far which watch the Union’s progress with interest as
they seek to consolidate their re-emerging democracies or rebuild a
Today, the Union of the 15 Member States is negotiating the next wave of
membership with 10 countries of central and eastern Europe, and with
Malta and Cyprus. At a later stage, other countries of former Yugoslavia
or which belong to the European sphere will in turn ask to join. The
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