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European Union Politics

European Union Politics (6th edn)

Michelle Cini and Nieves Pérez-Solórzano Borragán
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date: 07 December 2023

p. 112. The European Union: Establishment and Developmentlocked

p. 112. The European Union: Establishment and Developmentlocked

  • David Phinnemore


The focus of this chapter is the emergence of the European Communities in the 1950s, their evolution in the three decades thereafter, and the establishment and early development of the European Union (EU) in the 1990s. The chapter explores key developments in the first four decades of European integration and some of the tensions that have shaped them. It considers the ambitions of the architects and supporters of the European Communities and how their hopes and aspirations played out as integration became a reality in the 1950s and 1960s. It looks at how their ambitions grew and how the process then lost momentum in the 1970s before the idea of ‘European union’ was rekindled in the 1980s with the Single European Act (1986) and the Single Market project. These acted as catalysts for a new era of dynamic European integration with the now expanded Communities at its core. The chapter then explores how, through ‘Maastricht’ and the adoption and implementation of the Treaty on European Union (1992), the European Union was established. The chapter assesses the unique and incomplete form of the new ‘union’ and examines the impact on it of reforms introduced by the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997) and the Treaty of Nice (2000) as the EU sought to prepare itself for the further enlargement and the challenges of the initial years of the twenty-first century.

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