Chapter I: Back to the basics

What is the European Union and how does it work?

The European Union as it is known today is the fruit of many years of discussion and concessions by national sovereign governments that agreed to bring together some of their common interests after the Second World War. It started from the notion that competition had been one of the factors leading to the war, antagonising in particular strongly rival powers such as France and Germany. By pooling their industrial capacity after the war through the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1951, these powers were linking both their economies and their capacity to develop weapons. Since then, little by little, through (among other things) the Treaty of Rome (1957) the vision of a common European Community was built, leading to what is today the European Union of 28 countries.

Let us look further at the initial vision, the common values and the functioning of the Union.