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A TIMELINE OF THE EU

1951 Treaty of Paris establishes European Coal and Steel


Community ECSC
Six countries sign the treaty France Germany the Benelux
states
and Italy.
1973 Britain Denmark and Ireland join the European Community
The three countries and Norway had failed to join 10 years earlier because of
General de Gaulle's veto on British membership.
1979 The road to the euro begins with the EMS
The European Monetary System EMS introduces the European currency unit
Ecu and the exchange rate mechanism ERM
1986 Portugal and Spain join the EC and the European flag is unveiled
1987 The Single European Act enters into force
The SEA modifies the Treaty of Rome aiming to complete the formation of a
common market which the earlier treaty had begun.
1991 Maastricht turns the Community into a Union
1995 Borders come down as a result of the Schengen pact
Austria Finland and Sweden joined the EU at the start of 1995 taking
membership to 15.
2002 National currencies replaced by euro notes and coins
THE INSTITUTIONS OF THE EU
The institutions of the European Union form the
framework for co-operation between the 27 member
states.
The European Commission is the only one that can
initiate
legislation.
It submits its proposals to the European Parliament and the Council of
Ministers, to be approved or rejected.
The parliament also has responsibility for supervising the 27 commissioners
and is the only institution with the power to sack them. Commissioners are
appointed by the Council of Ministers and then approved by the parliament.
Once legislation has been passed, the European Court of Justice makes sure it
is interpreted uniformly across all the member states.
The EU also relies on a number of smaller bodies to keep it running. There are
many agencies dotted across the continent dedicated to every aspect of
European life.
THE LISBON TREATY
Like the European constitution before it, the treaty is
often
described as an attempt to streamline EU institutions to
make
the enlarged bloc of 27 states function better. But
opponents see it as part of a federalist agenda that threatens national
sovereignty.
Changes introduced:
* A politician chosen to be president of the European Council for two-and-a-half
years, replacing the current system where countries take turns at being
president for six months.
* A new post combining the jobs of the existing foreign affairs supremo,
Javier Solana, and the external affairs commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, to
give the EU more clout on the world stage.

* A smaller European Commission, with fewer commissioners than there are


member states, from 2014.
* A redistribution of voting weights between the member states, based on a
"double majority" of 55% of member states, accounting for 65% of the EU's
population.
* New powers for the European Commission, European Parliament and
European Court of Justice, for example in the field of justice and home affairs.
* Removal of national vetoes in a number of areas.