What is the European Community?
The European Community, also called the European Communities or the European Economic Community, was the predecessor of the European Union as an association created to unite Europe.
The European Community was originally composed of three international organizations—European Coal and Steel Community, European Atomic Energy Community, and the European Economic Community – with six founding member states.
- The European Community was originally composed of three international organizations, aiming to create unity, peace, and economic integration within Europe.
- The European Community was the model for the European Union and achieved full economic integration – the free movement of people, goods, and services – in 1993, when it was turned into the European Union.
- The European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC) remains the only existing organization from the three European communities.
The Origins of the European Community
The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was founded first in 1951, followed by the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC) and the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957.
Each community included the same six founding members who signed the treaties. The six founding countries included France, Germany (West), Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
In 1967, the three communities were brought together to be known as the European Communities – the European Economic Community being the most important one.
By 1986, the European Community’s membership included Denmark, the U.K., Ireland, Greece, Portugal, and Spain.
The Organizations of the European Community
The European Community was composed of three international organizations, each with its own functions and responsibilities. The organizations were formed through a series of treaties, beginning with the Treaty of Paris in 1951, followed by the Treaty of Rome in 1957.
1. European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC)
First proposed to end the war between France and Germany, the ECSC was the first organization that unified members in Europe, making its formation the first step towards the European Union.
The ECSC created a common market in Europe for coal and steel trading and encouraged peace in Europe at the same time. It also laid the foundation for the formation of the EAEC and the EEC.
2. European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC)
The EAEC was first established in 1957 to develop nuclear energy and distribute it to member states and create a common market for nuclear power.
Today, the EAEC remains the only European Community outside of the European Union and is responsible for matters related to nuclear power, radiation, the safeguarding of nuclear weapons, radiation protection, and construction of the International Fusion Reactor.
3. European Economic Community (EEC)
The EEC was by far the most important of the three European communities and led to the creation of the common market – the main ideology behind the European Union.
The EEC eliminated trade barriers among member states, ensuring peace through economic cooperation across Europe. It also created economic integration through a customs union.
Complete free trade and movement of goods, services, and people within the EEC was achieved in 1993, and the EEC was renamed as the European Community under the Maastricht Treaty.
The European Community and the European Union
In 1965, all three European organizations were merged into the European Communities or the European Economic Community.
When the European Union (EU) was formed in 1993, it was created as a body of “three pillars”:
- The European Community
- Common Foreign and Security Policy
- Cooperation in Justice and Home Affairs
The European Community became a foundational pillar of the EU due to its role in bringing European economies together. Not only did it establish the foundation for the EU through economic integration, but it also ensured peace in Europe through free trade.
In 1993, the European Community was officially rolled into the European Union. Today, the European Atomic Energy Community is the only independently existing organization of the European Community in Europe, managing and governing its nuclear capabilities.
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