On 25 March 1957 Italy, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg signed the Treaties of Rome, creating the European Atomic Energy Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).
After two years of negotiations conducted by the parties, the representatives of the six countries met in the Italian capital, in the chamber called "Sala degli Orazi e Curiazi" in the "Palazzo dei Conservatori" - home of the Capitoline Museums - and signed the final agreement, which represented the basis of all subsequent European treaties.
The same six nations that signed the Treaties of Rome had founded the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1951, through the Treaties of Paris. The ECSC was created to encourage collaboration in the two most important industrial sectors of the time, favouring their national production and, at the same time, avoiding the risk of a new conflict involving the whole continent. The bases were thus laid for the development of what we know today as the European Union.
A few years later, however, the need to deepen the European cooperation and extend it to other sectors had gradually become evident. Therefore the EEC was combined with the ECSC, giving birth to the common market. For long time, the EEC and the ECSC, together with Euratom, constituted the three European communities, which worked in parallel. The three communities were merged in 1967 following the Merger Treaty, which provided the unification of their institutions.
The Treaties of Rome formally entered into force on 1 January 1958 and the European Parliamentary Assembly they had established (the future European Parliament) was reunited for the first time on 19 March of that year.
Over the years, gradually, other European states signed the Treaty: in 1973 it was the turn of the United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland, followed in 1981 by Greece and in 1986 by Spain and Portugal, which had recently got rid of their dictatorships. In 1990, with the German Reunification, East Germany automatically became part of the European Community as well. All accession acts were deposited with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is still the depositary of all accession acts to the Union today.
With the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, the European Economic Community changed its name to the "European Community" (EC), as its powers were no longer limited to the economic sphere. The same treaty also created the European Union and incorporated the EC into it. In 2009, following the Lisbon Treaties, the Treaty of Rome, with its subsequent amendments, changed its name to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (or TFEU) and the EU formally and definitively took the place of the three previous communities.
For the future of the European integration, the EEC Treaty was much more decisive than the Euratom Treaty. Indeed it consisted of 248 articles, 4 annexes and 9 protocols.
The initial part of the Treaty stated that its signatories intended to create a European Community, in the desire to "lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe".
Article 2 illustrates the EEC's aim of "establishing a common market", "to promote [...] the harmonious development of economic activities" of the Member States, and favouring "an accelerated raising of the standard of living and closer relations between its Member States".
Art. 3 sets out the Six states' commitment to pursue eleven public policy objectives. In particular, in compliance with the treaty, members were required to abolish reciprocal custom duties and quantitative restrictions on imports and exports of goods, establish a common commercial policy towards third countries and eliminate "obstacles to the free movement of persons, services and capital". Also, they legally committed themselves to create a European Social Fund, a European Investment Bank and associate " overseas countries and territories" once colonized. The common customs tariff was established and, in compliance with it, duties should have been at the level of "arithmetic average of the duties applied in the four customs territories covered by the Community".
The objectives concerning the liberalisation of the EU economy and the harmonisation of the European laws had to be achieved within 12 years.
According to Art. 39 the Six promised to establish a common market, which rules would applied to soil, livestock and fishery products and also in first processing products that are directly related to these last. In other words, agricultural policy in its final form would have benefit agricultural producers' interests by ensuring reasonable prices for consumers. In this regard, Marjolin, Architect of European Unity, argued: "France would never have accepted a customs union which didn't include agriculture and granted French producers a level of protection comparable to that provided by the French law. Without a common agricultural policy, there would have been no common market".
Finally, the EEC Treaty was the first supranational antitrust agreement and is still considered one of the "pillars" of the European legislation. It was first amended for the first time in 1992, after the adoption of the Maastricht Treaty, and the secon time in 2007, with the Lisbon Treaty.
The Euratom Treaty was signed at the same time as the EEC treaty, and it identified the eight main policy areas, in the field of nuclear energy, that would be coordinated by the new Community.
EURATOM's objective was to create the conditions for the formation and rapid growth of nuclear industries, in order to lead to a rise in the living standards of the Member States, as well as to the development of trade with other countries.
From a territorial point of view, EURATOM comprised the European territories of the Member States and those outside Europe, but still under their jurisdiction.
Among the main objectives of the EURATOM Treaty it's necessary to mention:
- To facilitate investments and ensure the construction of the basic installations necessary for the development of nuclear energy in the Community, by encouraging business initiatives;
- To ensure a regular and equitable supply of ores and nuclear fuels to all users in the Community;
- To ensure, through appropriate controls, that nuclear materials are not diverted from their intended purpose;
- to ensure the access to the best technical means, and markets outlets through the creation of a common market for special materials and equipment, to allow the free movement of capital for nuclear investment and the free employment of specialists within the Community;
- To establish with other countries and international organizations all appropriate links to promote progress in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
EURATOM was defined by the Statements of the Action Committee as an "event of crucial importance", but in reality it did not live up to the hopes of its promoters. Like the ECSC, it lacked the resources needed to control investment in nuclear plans or exercise a monopoly on the purchase of uranium.
Edited by Giada Pagnoni and Chiara Vona
Translated by Simona Maria Vallefuoco.
Original article: - published on March 25, 2020.
Dipartimento delle Politiche Europee, Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri http://www.politicheeuropee.gov.it/en/legislation/the-treaties-of-rome/
Encyclopaedia Britannica, Treaties of Rome, https://www.britannica.com/event/Treaty-of-Rome
Enciclopedia Treccani, Comunità Economica Europea, http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/comunita-economica-europea/
Unione Europea, Un’Europa di pace – gli albori della cooperazione, https://europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/history/1945-1959_it
Il Post, “Trattati di Roma: cosa sono e perché sono stati celebrati, 25 marzo 2017, https://www.ilpost.it/2017/03/25/trattati-di-roma-cosa-sono/
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Mark Gilbert, Storia politica dell’integrazione europea, Laterza 2003