European Communities (EC)

Communautés européennes (CE)
Comunidades Europeas (CE)
Europäischen Gemeinschaften (EG)
Comunidades Européias (CE)
Comunità Europee (CE)
Europese Gemeenschappen (EG)
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7 Feb 1992, in its current form as first "pillar" of F-XF2147 - European Union (EU), on signature of T-XT9113 - Treaty on European Union (Maastricht Treaty). The "second" pillar of the EU is Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP / PESC); the "third" pillar is Cooperation in the Field of Justice and Home Affairs (CJHA).

The European Communities comprised 3 juridically distinct entities:

In common usage the European Communities were frequently referred to collectively as the 'European Community'.

The origins of the European Communities date back to 9 May 1950, when Robert Schuman first made proposals leading to the gradual creation of a European Community. The 'European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC)' was set up on signature of the T-XT5133 - Treaty Establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (Treaty of Paris), 18 Apr 1951, by representatives of the 6 original member states, and ratified by parliaments of the signatory states between 31 Oct 1951 and 16 Jun 1952. The instruments of ratification were deposited on 25 Jul 1952, and ECSC began to function on 25 Aug 1952. Following a recommendation of the Common Assembly of the ECSC, May 1955, an intergovernmental conference, Jun 1955, Messina (Italy), set up Comité intergouvernemental créé par la Conférence de Messina, whose work led to establishment of an intergovernmental conference to negotiate the EEC and Euratom Treaties; this first met, 26 Jun 1956, Brussels (Belgium), under the presidency of Paul-Henri Spaak. As a result of these negotiations, two Treaties, Treaty Establishing the European Economic Community (Treaty of Rome) - since 2009 called T-XT5765 - Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), and T-XT5766 - Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (Treaty of Rome), were signed on 25 May 1957, and ratified by the Parliaments of the member states between 5 Jul 1957 and 4 Dec 1957. Both treaties came into force on 1 Jan 1958.

Initially the 3 bodies that made up the European Communities had separate Councils and executive Commissions (in the case of the ECSC, known as the 'High Authority'), although the European Parliament and the Court of Justice have been common to the 3 bodies since 1958. Following the 'Merger' Treaty of 8 Apr 1964, which came into force in Jul 1967, a single Commission and a single Council acted as organs common to the 3 bodies, being seen as the first step towards the setting-up of a single European Community to be governed by a single Treaty, replacing the Paris and Rome Treaties. No formal merger of the 3 bodies themselves had ever taken place but they were regarded as one unit as far as their political and legal structure was concerned; they weare managed by common institutions.

The T-XT8633 - Single European Act (SEA), signed Feb 1986 and ratified by member parliaments by 31 Mar 1987, came into force on 1 Jul 1987. It set out common provisions for progress towards unity and supplemented the provisions establishing individual European institutions, more fully institutionalizing the E-XE7976 - European Council, comprising meetings of Heads of State and Government. It amended and complemented the ECSC, EEC and Euratom treaties and spelt out objectives for: completion of a European internal market and creation of an area without frontiers by 1992; technological development; progress towards economic and monetary union; strengthening of economic and social cohesion; improvement of the environment, in general and at work; measures to make the Communities more effective and democratic; institutionalization of foreign policy cooperation.

The Maastricht Treaty marked a new stage in creating an "ever closer union" among the people of Europe, founded on the European Communities, supplemented by further policies and forms of cooperation and serving as a single institutional framework ensuring consistency and continuity of activities while respecting and building upon the "acquis communautaire". It envisaged the establishment of a common market and an ever closer economic and monetary union, "harmonious and balanced development of economic activities, sustainable and non-inflationary growth respecting the environment, a high degree of convergence of economic performance, a high level of employment and social protection, the raising of the standard of living and quality of life, and economic cohesion and solidarity among member states". The Treaty extended the range of policy areas which might be handled by the Communities rather than by national governments by extending existing responsibilities (for example with environment policy) and by introducing new ones (for example in the areas of culture, health and trans-European networks). This extension of responsibilities was emphasized in the adoption of provisions on the treaties establishing the EEC to replace the name 'European Economic Community (EEC)' by 'European Community' throughout, this now being the new official title of the old EEC. The T-XT9706 - Treaty of Amsterdam, signed 2 Oct 1997 following agreement among the Heads of State and Government 16-17 Jun 1997, Amsterdam (Netherlands), at a meeting of the European Council, gave a legal personality to the European Union, allowing it to negotiate as one entity.

T-XT2073 - Treaty of Lisbon further reformed the European Union with the functions of the European Community mergend into the Union, 1 Dec 2009.


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The institutions that make up the 'European Communities' have each a definite legal status and extensive powers. But the European Communities is not a federation: it does not have a 'federal government' to which national parliaments and governments are subordinate in certain areas. It can best be described as a 'community' system.


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Relations with Inter-Governmental Organizations

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Type I Classification

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Type II Classification

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Subjects *

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* Subject classification is derived from the organization names and aims.
** UN SDGs are linked to the subject classification.

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