3rd Year: Option 2: Moves Towards European Unity

The European Union today.
Main Page: International Relations in the 20th Century

You know from CSPE that Ireland is a member of the European Union, along with 26 other countries. Have you ever wondered where the European Union came from? You've learned how European ended up at war with each other twice in forty years, and you've learned how destructive that second war was. Europe was in ruins in 1945 and had to rebuild. Nobody wanted a war like that again, but what could be done to prevent it? The League of Nations had failed to prevent World War II, how could anything established now do any different?

In the years after World War II, the idea of European unity began to be talked about. A united Europe would see the different European countries co-operating instead of fighting, and would get rid of the desire for revenge that certain countries (particularly France and Germany) felt towards each other.

If you study this topic, you'll learn how Europe began to unite after the war years to create what we now call the European Union. Or, if you want to look at it another way, the story of why we use euros!

This is one of three option topics you can study. The other two options are The Rise of the Superpowers and African & Asian Nationalism.

  • Reasons for European unity.
  • Steps towards European Unity:
    • Organisation for European Economic Co-operation.
    • Council of Europe.
    • European Coal and Steel Community.
    • Schumann Plan and the Treaty of Rome.
  • People in History: Robert Schuman
  • The European Economic Community.
  • Enlarging the EEC.
  • Policies, achievements and problems.

The flag of the European Union.
The 12 stars do not represent anything in particular, they were chosen
because the number 12 is supposed to symbolise perfection.

Click here for exam questions you can be asked about this topic. (Higher and Ordinary)


A named leader in the movement for European unity between 1945 - 1992
(2010 HL)

The European Union: History
The signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957.
The EU's own website takes a look at the history of the European unity movement, as well as featuring biographies of many important figures from the early days of that movement such as Schumann, Adenauer and Spaak.

The Telegraph: Timeline of the EU
The Telegraph website gives a brief, concise timeline of the development of the EU up as far as the Lisbon Treaty in 2009. 

About the European Union
About.com also has an overview of the EU's history.

BBC On This Day: Britain Joins the EEC
The BBC news report of the day the UK joined the European Economic Community.

Ireland Joins the EEC
The EU website talks about Ireland's entry to the community (which you learned about before).

The first meeting of the EEC Council, 1958 (silent video)
Silent footage of the first meeting of the Council of the EEC in 1958.

Robert Schuman
A brief biography and primary source material on Robert Schuman.