History of the European Union



The European Union is an organization of 27 nations. Its original aim was to form an economic union but, as time went on, the EU developed into a far greater organization.

Today the EU is developing into a political union, trying to bring together the democratic countries of Europe. It is the biggest trading bloc in the world, has more people than the United States and exports and imports more goods than any other country in the world.



Th European Union's  location in our world


After World War II

World War II caused a great deal of damage in Europe. After the war European leaders believed they had to work together to prevent another devastating conflict.

In 1952 the European Coal and Steel Community was founded by six nations: France, Italy, West Germany and the Benelux countries. Its aim was to control coal production and the steel industries of the member states, so that one single state could not build up a powerful industry without the others knowing about it.

The success of the ECSC made the leaders of the six countries cooperate even further. In 1957 two more organisations were founded in Rome. The European Economic Community (EEC) established a free trade zone in which goods and services could move freely between countries. the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) was designed to have countries cooperate on the peaceful use of nuclear energy.


In 1967 the three organisations were combined to form the European Communities (EC) .

The 1970s and 80s led to the enlargement of the EC. Denmark, the United Kingdom and Ireland joined in 1973, Greece became a member in 1981, and Spain and Portugal joined the community in 1986. At the end of the 1980s communism collapsed in many eastern European countries. In 1990 a united Germany became the largest country in the community.

In the 1990s EC leaders started to seek greater cooperation in other fields. In 1991 the Maastricht Treaty was signed. Member states vowed to create a political union and introduce a single currency, the euro which replaced the currency of 12 European countries in 2002.

In 1995 Austria, Sweden and Finland enlarged the European Union to 15 countries.

In the early years of the new millennium leaders of the EU started working on a constitution for all member states. They finished and approved it in 2004 but citizens in France and the Netherlands rejected it in national referendums.

The biggest enlargement took place in 2004. Ten new countries of central, eastern and southern Europe entered the EU: Cyprus, Malta, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Two more, Romania and Poland became members in 2007.

One and a half decades after the fall of the Iron Curtain the division of Europe had been overcome.

Enlargement of the European Union

Enlargement of the European Union


The European Union- Table of Contents

The European Union- Exercises


Downloadable PDF Text- and Worksheets:




  • aim = something you hope you can reach or do
  • approve = to agree on something, to say yes to something
  • cause = lead to
  • citizen = a person who lives in a country and has rights there
  • collapse = if something breaks down and can not continue
  • combine = to put together
  • community = here: group of countries that have the same interests
  • constitution = a set of rules and laws in a country
  • cooperate = to work together
  • create = make
  • currency = the money of a country
  • damage = harm, destruction
  • deal = a lot of
  • design = here: create, make
  • devastating = badly damaging
  • develop = to grow
  • division = to separate something from the rest
  • economic = everything that has to do with business and money in a country
  • enlargement = if something becomes bigger =
  • establish = to begin or create
  • found - founded = to start something new
  • free trade zone = area in which countries can trade goods freely
  • goods = things that are produced so that they can be sold
  • Iron Curtain = the name that was used for the border between the communist countries and the free countries of Europe
  • millennium = the time when the next one thousand years begins
  • overcome = to control or solve a problem
  • prevent = to stop something from happening
  • referendum = when people vote on something
  • reject = to say no to
  • replace = to take the place of
  • seek = look for
  • service = work that is done for someone
  • sign = to put your name on a document
  • single = only one
  • steel = strong metal made of iron that you can form easily
  • success = when you get or reach what you really want to
  • trading bloc = group of countries that trade with others as one
  • treaty = a paper that is signed by two or more countries
  • unite = two or more things join to make one
  • use = the action of using something
  • vow = to promise