European Community (EC): Definition and History

What is the European Community (EC)?

The EC is based on the principle of shared sovereignty, where member states pool their resources and decision-making powers in order to achieve common goals. It operates through a system of institutions, including the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of the European Union.

One of the main objectives of the EC is to create a single market, where goods, services, capital, and people can move freely across national borders. This has been achieved through the removal of trade barriers, the harmonization of regulations, and the establishment of common policies in areas such as agriculture, competition, and regional development.

Over the years, the EC has expanded its membership through a process of enlargement, with new countries joining the organization. This has helped to strengthen the economic and political ties between European nations and has contributed to peace and stability in the region.

Despite these challenges, the EC remains an important institution in Europe and continues to play a key role in shaping the future of the continent.

Definition and Overview

The European Community (EC) is an economic and political union of European countries that was established with the aim of promoting peace, stability, and prosperity in the region. It is one of the key institutions of the European Union (EU) and plays a crucial role in shaping European policies and legislation.

The EC was created through a series of treaties and agreements between its member states. It is based on the principles of supranationalism, which means that decisions are made collectively and binding on all member states. This allows for the pooling of resources and the harmonization of laws and regulations across the member states.

One of the main objectives of the EC is to create a single market, where goods, services, capital, and people can move freely. This has been achieved through the elimination of trade barriers, the establishment of common rules and standards, and the creation of a common currency, the Euro, which is used by 19 out of the 27 member states.

The EC also has a role in promoting social and economic cohesion among its member states. It provides financial support to less developed regions and countries through various funding programs and initiatives. This helps to reduce disparities and promote balanced development across the European Union.

Furthermore, the EC is responsible for representing the European Union on the international stage. It negotiates trade agreements, engages in diplomatic relations, and coordinates the foreign policies of its member states. This allows the European Union to have a stronger voice and influence in global affairs.

Overall, the European Community is a unique and complex institution that has played a crucial role in shaping the political, economic, and social landscape of Europe. It has brought together countries with diverse histories and cultures, and has fostered cooperation and integration among them. Despite the challenges it faces, the EC continues to be a symbol of European unity and a driving force for progress and prosperity in the region.

History of the European Community (EC)

The roots of the EC can be traced back to the aftermath of World War II, when European leaders recognized the need for closer integration to prevent future conflicts. The Treaty of Paris, signed in 1951, established the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), which aimed to coordinate the coal and steel industries of its member states.

The success of the ECSC led to further integration efforts, culminating in the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957. This treaty established the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM). The EEC aimed to create a common market among its member states, promoting the free movement of goods, services, capital, and people.

Over the years, the EC expanded its membership, with new countries joining and contributing to its growth. The United Kingdom, Denmark, and Ireland became members in 1973, followed by Greece in 1981 and Spain and Portugal in 1986. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subsequent reunification of Germany in 1990 paved the way for the inclusion of the former East Germany into the EC.

In the 1990s, the EC faced significant challenges, including the breakup of Yugoslavia and the subsequent conflicts in the Balkans. The EC played a crucial role in mediating and resolving these conflicts, demonstrating its commitment to peace and stability in the region.

Despite these challenges, the EC has continued to evolve and adapt to the changing needs of its member states. It has expanded its policy areas to include areas such as environmental protection, consumer rights, and social policy. It has also deepened its integration through the creation of the eurozone and the adoption of a common currency, the euro.

Formation and Early Years

Formation and Early Years

The European Community (EC) was formed with the signing of the Treaty of Rome on March 25, 1957, by six founding member states: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. The main objective of the EC was to promote economic integration and cooperation among its member states, with the ultimate goal of creating a common market.

During its early years, the EC focused on the establishment of a customs union, which eliminated tariffs and other trade barriers between member states. This allowed for the free movement of goods, services, capital, and people within the community. The EC also implemented common policies in various sectors, such as agriculture and transportation, to further facilitate economic integration.

In addition to economic integration, the EC also aimed to promote political cooperation among its member states. The European Parliament was established as a directly elected body, giving citizens a voice in the decision-making process. The EC also established the European Court of Justice to ensure the enforcement of community law and resolve disputes between member states.

Challenges and Achievements

The EC faced various challenges during its early years, including economic disparities among member states, differing national interests, and the need to balance national sovereignty with supranational decision-making. However, the community also achieved significant milestones during this period.



The formation and early years of the European Community marked a significant step towards economic and political integration in Europe. Through the establishment of a customs union, common policies, and institutions, the EC laid the foundation for the creation of the European Union. Despite the challenges faced, the EC achieved important milestones and set the stage for further expansion and development in the years to come.

Expansion and Enlargement

Expansion and Enlargement

The expansion and enlargement of the European Community (EC) have been key milestones in its history, shaping its development and increasing its influence on the global stage. Since its establishment, the EC has grown from its original six founding members to the current 27 member states.

The first major expansion of the EC took place in 1973 when Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom joined the community. This marked a significant shift in the EC’s composition, as it expanded beyond its original core members. The addition of these new countries brought new perspectives and challenges to the community, but also increased its economic and political strength.

In the following years, the EC continued to expand its membership. Greece joined in 1981, followed by Spain and Portugal in 1986. These new members were primarily Southern European countries, which brought a different cultural and economic background to the community.

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union opened up new opportunities for the EC to expand further. In 1995, Austria, Finland, and Sweden became members, marking the first expansion of the EC into the former Eastern Bloc countries. This expansion not only brought new members into the community but also helped to promote stability and democracy in the region.

Further enlargements took place in 2007, when Bulgaria and Romania joined, and in 2013, when Croatia became a member. These expansions have brought the total number of member states to 27, making the EC one of the largest and most influential regional organizations in the world.

The expansion and enlargement of the EC have not been without challenges. Each new member brings its own unique set of economic, political, and cultural issues that need to be addressed. However, the EC has proven its ability to adapt and integrate new members, fostering a sense of unity and cooperation among its diverse member states.

Overall, the expansion and enlargement of the European Community have been instrumental in shaping its development and increasing its influence. By bringing together countries with different backgrounds and perspectives, the EC has created a platform for cooperation and integration, promoting peace, stability, and prosperity in Europe.

Recent Developments and Challenges

In recent years, the European Community (EC) has faced numerous challenges and undergone significant developments that have shaped its future. One of the most significant challenges has been the issue of Brexit, which refers to the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) in 2016. This decision has had far-reaching implications for the EC and has sparked debates about the future of the European project.

The Brexit process has been complex and has raised questions about the future relationship between the EU and the UK. Negotiations have focused on issues such as trade, immigration, and the Irish border. The EC has worked to ensure that the interests of its member states are protected during these negotiations, while also striving to maintain the unity and integrity of the EU.

In addition to Brexit, the EC has also faced challenges related to migration and security. The influx of migrants from conflict-ridden regions has put pressure on the EU’s borders and has raised concerns about national security and cultural integration. The EC has implemented various measures to address these challenges, including the establishment of a common European asylum system and increased cooperation in the field of security and intelligence.

Another important recent development has been the focus on climate change and sustainability. The EC has set ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to a low-carbon economy. This has involved the implementation of various policies and initiatives aimed at promoting renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable transport.

Looking ahead, the EC faces ongoing challenges in areas such as digitalization, social inequality, and geopolitical shifts. The rapid advancement of technology presents both opportunities and challenges for the EU, and the EC is working to ensure that Europe remains competitive in the global digital economy. Additionally, the EC is striving to address social inequalities and promote inclusive growth, while also navigating the changing dynamics of global politics.


The European Community (EC) has come a long way since its formation and has faced numerous challenges and developments along the way. From its early years of integration to the recent challenges of Brexit and migration, the EC has demonstrated its ability to adapt and evolve. As it continues to navigate the complex landscape of European politics, the EC remains committed to promoting peace, prosperity, and unity among its member states.