9 May 1950:French Minister of foreign affairs Robert Schuman presents a plan for a common organization of German and French coal and steel production, which would allow for the eventual participation of other European states.
18 April 1951:The Treaty of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), an agreement based on Schuman's proposal, is enacted on 18 April 1951. This Treaty lasts roughly 50 years, expiring 22 July 2002.
25 March 1957: The so-called Treaties of Rome are signed by six European states (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands), establishing the European Economic Community (known today as the European Community/EC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). The first president of the joint Commission of these two organisations is Walter Hallstein. The aims of the EC are clearly stated in its Preamble and in Article 2:
The establishment of a common market, progressively to approximate the economic policies of Member States, to promote harmonious development of economic activities throughout the Community, to increase stability and raise the standard of living, and to promote closer relations between the Member States.
1973: The United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark become EC members.
1979: The first direct elections for the European parliament are held, and are subsequently held every five years.
1981: Greece joins the EC, followed by Spain and Portugal in 1986.
28 February 1986: The so-called Single European Act (SEA) is signed, mentioning the formation of a European Union as an objective for the first time. 1992 is established as a deadline for the consolidation of a single market in the European Community. By 1 January 1993, the single market is in effect, including the 4 basic freedoms (freedom of Goods, Movements, Capital and Services) within the Community.
1990: The territory of former East Germany is reunited with EC member state Germany, making the EC even larger.
1 November 1993: The Treaty of the European Union (or Treaty of Maastricht from 7 February 1992), is enacted, formally establishing The European Union (Art. 1 EU). According to the EU's structural metaphor, the "roof of a temple with 3 columns," the first column is composed of the Community Treaties (EC, Euratom, and ECSC), while the newly created second and third pillars concern Common Foreign and Security Policy and cooperation in Judicial and Domestic affairs. In addition, a concrete timetable for the economic and monetary union (EMU) with provision for a European Central Bank is laid out.
1995: Sweden, Austria and Finland are admitted to the EU.
2 October 1997: The Treaty of Amsterdam is signed, going into effect on 1 May 1999. It incorporates the free movement of individuals, visa arrangements, asylum, immigration and judicial co-operation in civil matters (previously part of "the third pillar") into the body of the EU Treaty.
1 January 1999: As a result of the EMU completion, the single European currency (the Euro) is agreed upon by twelve of the fifteen member states (excepting Denmark, Sweden and the UK).
1 January 2002: The first hard Euro currency is released.
December 2000: The Charter of Fundamental Rights is announced at the council of Nice as a non-binding legal document.
26 February 2001: The Treaty of Nice, a badly needed institutional reform, is signed. Its enactment on 1 February 2003 paves the way for EU enlargement.
February 2002 - June 2003: The Convention develops a draft for the European Constitution. It remains unsigned due to objections by some member states. The objective of the European Constitution is to have one basic legal document for the Union rather than several treaties, as well as a clear definition of the respective limits of the authority of both the EU and its individual member states. Furthermore, the European Charter of Fundamental Rights would become legally binding.
1 May 2004: Ten more states are admitted to the EU: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Malta and Cyprus.