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EU Matters.ie - Information about Ireland's membership of the EU

Why was the EU founded?

The overall aim of the EEC/EU, since its foundation in 1958, is to promote peace; the values of human rights; democracy; equality; the rule of law; and the well-being of its peoples. These values are the bedrock of the EU’s work and its role in the world.

In 1950, less than five years after the end of the Second World War, the French politician Robert Schuman proposed the creation of a community of peaceful interests to Germany and any other European countries that wanted to join.

The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Treaty was signed in Paris in 1951 and brought Belgium; the Federal Republic of Germany; France; Italy; Luxembourg; and the Netherlands together in a Community with the aim of organising free movement of coal and steel and free access to sources of production.

The same six countries signed the Treaty of Rome on 25 March 1957 in order to build a European Economic Community (EEC) based on a wider common market covering a whole range of goods and services.

The Treaty of Rome is anchored in the vision of ending war and the division of the European continent.

It created a framework for the construction of Europe into the future and a process of creating an ever closer union between the peoples of Europe.

The first enlargement of the EEC occurred when Denmark, the United Kingdom and Ireland joined in 1973.

During the half century since the Treaty of Rome was signed, Europe has been transformed. The European Union has helped Europe to move from war and conflict to cooperation and peace.

It has enabled Europeans to replace the economic ruin of the 1940s with a single market of 500 million people and a common currency now used by 320 million Europeans.

The European Union is a unique body. No other part of the world has such an organisation whose mission is to bring countries together to pursue shared interests and values. 

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