60 YEARS SINCE THE „TREATIES OF ROME” 24th – 25th March 2017
On 25th March 1957 six European countries – Germany, France, Italy and the Benelux countries – decided to establish an “Economic Community” which as stated in the introduction to the agreement, was to be built on a foundation of peace, reconciliation and collaboration. The signatories were motivated by a common will to lay the grounds for an ever-closer collaboration between European countries. They were determined to safeguard economic and social development in each individual country through joint action, remove barriers of division and consolidate peace and freedom on the continent.
At the same time, other European states were invited to “join forces”.
The ultimate significance of the “Economic European Community” went well beyond a search for economic advancement. Already in the early 1950s the French Minister for Foreign Affairs Robert Schuman (1886-1963) made clear that sustainable peace in Europe could only be guaranteed through joint control over resources such as the coal and steel required in warfare.
In addition, Germany was accepted as an equal partner in the nascent community, just 12 years after the war ended.
This was a decisive step towards reconciliation on the continent in which France and Germany had a determining role.
Since 1992 the European Union has become a guarantor of political cohesion on the continent. This would have not been possible without the agreements leading to the “Economic European Community” – the “Treaties of Rome”.
Whilst the Treaties dealt in detail with issues such as import, export, customs regulation, tribunals, economic policies, free circulation of goods and establishment of commissions, it can be considered primarily as the act through which a united Europe was born.
In this, of key importance, is firstly the fact that the signatories were former enemies and secondly that the intention behind its stipulation, clearly set out in the Preamble, was that the Union should aim to eliminate barriers, safeguard peace and freedom, promote development, thereby improving conditions of life for Europeans.
Written by Sr. PD Dr. Nicole Grochowina of Christusbruderschaft Community in Selbitz (Germany). Since 2012 Sr. Grochowina has been lecturing in modern history at University of Erlangen/Nuremberg (Germany). She is a member of the Steering Committee of Together for Europe and of the Committee of experts on ecumenism of the Evangelical Church of Bavaria.