TREATIES OF ROME AND THE EUROPEAN UNION
On 25th March 1957, the Treaties of Rome were signed. They are considered the inaugural act of the great European family of countries. The first treaty established the European Economic Community (EEC), whilst the second set up Euratom, aimed at joined research for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
The EEC Treaty brought together the signatories France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands in a Community with the objective, as stated by Art. 2, of establishing a Common market and promoting the development of optimal economic conditions for exchange and production within the Community.
There was also a political objective, to contribute towards building a new political identity for Europe, directed towards broader unification. As stated by the signatories in the preamble to the Treaty: «determined to establish the foundations of an ever-closer union among the European peoples».
The Treaties of Rome were preceded by the so-called Treaty of Paris of 1951, through which the European Community of Steel and Coal (ECSC) was established. Through shared control over these industries the aim was to avoid any potential one-sided rearming of any one member state.
The attempts to promote greater unity within the European union on political and economic fronts stemmed from the desire after the second World War to integrate European states in such a way as to render impossible another armed conflict.
«For future peace, the creation of a dynamic Europe is indispensable. (…) We must therefore abandon the forms of the past and enter the path of transformation (…). Europe has never existed. It is not the addition of sovereign nations met together in councils that makes an entity of them. We must genuinely create Europe» (Jean Monnet, Memorandum, 3th May 1950).
«World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it. The contribution which an organised and living Europe can bring to civilization is indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations. (…) Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity» (Robert Schuman, 9th May 1950).
«Let us build peace within and without, and in order to achieve this, let us show discipline, order, good will and hard work. Let us seek better ways to share the goods of the earth and overcome difficulties. These are part of life, but can be won, if people are ready to make sacrifices, conscious that in order to succeed a complete faith in the Divine Providence is required» (Alcide De Gasperi, 20th April 1950).
The vicissitudes of Europe, from extraordinary thrusts to sudden halts brought about in the following years the ratification of further treaties (https://europa.eu/european-union/law/treaties_en) and the establishment of institutions among which, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of Europe.
Written by Maria Bruna Romito, Focolare Movement. Maria Bruna holds a degree in history. From 1989 to 2000 she lived in Hungary, where she taught Italian and history at the Catholic University of Budapest. She currently lives in Rome and works at the Pontifical Council for Culture.