The Limits of The European Union:
The Question of Enlargement
Nicholas V. Gianaris
Historically, efforts to form and enlarge economic and geopolitical unions in parts of Europe were made, for example, by city-states in ancient Greece and Rome and later in Byzantium, by the Frankish kingdom of Charlemagne (King Father of Europe), and by the Hapsburg dynasty. However, forcible unions proved to be ineffective, whereas voluntary and democratic unions helped improve European integration.
More effective alliances and unions were those of Austria, Britain, France, Prussia, and Russia (the Concert), which reduced conflicts from 1815 to 1854, and the German customs union (Zollverein), which was established in 1834 under Prussian leadership. Also, the Benelux countries (Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands) formed a regional economic group in 1944.
During the post-World War II years, formation and enlargement of European economic and political unions acquired more importance. In 1952, France, Germany (West), Italy, and the three Benelux countries created the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). In 1957, the European Economic Community (EEC) was formed by the above six countries (Treaty of Rome), which came into being on January 1, 1958. In 1973, the EEC was enlarged to include Britain, Denmark, and Ireland. In 1981, Greece became the tenth member and in 1986 Portugal and Spain became the eleventh and twelfth members of the EEC.
In order to avoid the historical pattern of oscillations between wars and order or chaos and stability, the EEC moved into political and other noneconomic cooperation agreements in addition to economic integration. It was renamed the European Community (EC) and is currently the European Union (EU). On January 1, 1995, Austria, Finland, and Sweden joined the EU.