How does Europe work?

Understanding the European Union is often a headache. Countless treaties and constitutions, the euro zone, the Schengen area, the stability pact, common policies, exceptions, … so many concepts behind that we do not always comprehend. This video sums up the history and functioning of the European Union in an offbeat tone.

At the base of the European construction is the dream of uniting a continent where countries were at wars with each other for centuries. It was only after the two World Wars that countries really took an interest in being united.

On 9 May 1950, the French Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, gave a speech which was the starting point for the EU. A year later, France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Italy joined forces to form the ECSC (Economic Community of Coal and Steel) with the aim of pooling resources to avoid future conflicts. The EU was built through the economy, with the EEC (European Economic Community) establishing its functioning in 1957.

Thanks to this alliance, numerous projects were born, such as the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy), the customs union and research into nuclear energy (EURATOM). But everything became more complicated in the 1970s, when an unprecedented economic crisis pushed them towards stronger economic integration.

In the meantime, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark had joined the union and in 1986, the EU had 12 countries with Greece, Spain and Portugal. That same year, the members signed the Single European Act, which provided for the completion of the single market by 1993 with four freedoms of movement: capital, goods, services and people.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989), everything accelerated. The European Union was officially created in 1992 by the Maastricht Treaty, which also provided for an economic and monetary union with a single currency: the Euro. Between 1995 and 2004, the EU welcomed 10 new countries.

Unfortunately, in 2008 a new economic crisis broke out. Today, the EU is considered by many as a technocratic machine rotten by lobbies focusing only on the economy and forgetting about social issues and solidarity. This is reflected in the UK’s withdrawal from the EU (Brexit) in 2020. Yet it faces many challenges in the years to come: health crisis, global warming, migration, cyberwarfare, artificial intelligence…

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