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Home >> World
UPDATED: 16:19, March 23, 2007
Backgrounder: Treaty of Rome -- foundation stone of EU
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The European Union is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which marks the beginning of the current 27-nation bloc.

The Treaty of Rome, seen as the EU foundation stone, is actually the collective name of two treaties signed in Rome by France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg on March 25, 1957.

The first treaty established the European Economic Community (EEC) and the second created the European Atomic Energy Community, better known as Euratom. Both entered into force on Jan. 1, 1958.

The purpose of the EEC was primarily to establish a common market among the six founding members, based on the famous "four freedoms," namely free movement of goods, services, capital and persons.

The EEC Treaty consists of 240 articles in six separate parts, preceded by a preamble. Besides establishment of a common market, the treaty, which was signed on July 1, 1968, aims to abolish quotas and customs duties among the member states.

Since then, a common external tariff, a sort of external frontier, has been established for member states' products, replacing the preceding tariffs of the different states.

This customs union was accompanied by common policies, notably on trade and agriculture, managed at community level instead of state level, as was previously the case.

The EEC Treaty also created the basic framework for today's EU, including provisions for a European Commission, Council of Ministers, Court of Justice and Assembly, now the European Parliament.

Euratom was created to pool the non-military nuclear resources of the states.

Together with the European Coal and Steel Community born in 1951, the EEC and the European Atomic Energy Community have been referred to collectively as the European Community (EC) since 1978, with the EEC remaining the most important element of the organization that has evolved into the present day EU.

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