Origins of the EU chapter 2

National law – EU – Legal system – module 2

The EU was formally created as a result of the Maastricht Treaty, officially the Treaty on European Union (‘TEU’), on 1 November 1993. Prior to the forming Treaty were a number of earlier treaties, such as the Treaty of Rome which led to the inauguration of the European Economic Community, a predecessor to the current union.

While the EU has had its critics, who see the union as a compromise of sovereignty; overwhelming the transnational body is recognised as a powerful means to support the economic growth of smaller nations and provide stronger bargaining power for the members collectively on a global scale. By and large, member states have supported pragmatic action to maintain and expand the EU.

Expansion since 1993

In 1993, the European Council, a predecessor to the EU, which was then comprised of twelve nations including Denmark, Germany, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Italy, Greece, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK, consummated the criteria for joining the EU.

Now known as the Copenhagen Criteria, the three requirements, each with its own criteria, are as follows:

  • Political

The country in question must have a functioning democratic government. Such means that all citizens participate on an equal basis to make political decisions on every governing level. A democracy also entails a secret ballot for free elections, freedom of press, freedom to establish political parties, and other rights.

According to the requirements, the government may only exercise power with accordance to documented laws and procedures.

The country must also have strict human rights guidelines which cannot be taken away from any citizen. The right to life, the right of lawful prosecution (in accordance with laws existing at the time), freedom from torture and slavery, and protection of minorities are all included in the section.

  • Economic

The country in question must have a functioning market economy that has the capacity to be competitive within the union. Countries must also pass the Euro convergence criteria.

  • Legislative

The country in question must enact legislation that brings the laws of their country into agreement with the law of the EU.

These are in addition to rules which have a geographical basis.

Since 1993, the EU has become three times its original size. In 1995, Austria, Sweden and Finland were added. In 2004, ten members, largely from the Soviet bloc, such as Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia, and Slovenia, and also Poland, and the Czech Republic were added. Cyprus was also amongst the ten nations added to the EU in 2004. Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia have also since become members.

Chalmers, D., Davies, G., & Monti, G. (2012). European Union law (2nd ed., p. 267 -). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Hallerberg, M. (2002). Introduction. European Union Politics3(2), 139-150.

Chalmers, D., Davies, G., & Monti, G. (2012). European Union law (2nd ed., p. 267 -). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.


SEE ALL Add a note
Add your Comment

Advanced Course Search Widget ©

Setup Menus in Admin Panel