Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries was a region ravaged by large-scale wars. National leaders realized after World
War II that closer socio-economic and political integration was needed to ensure that such tragedies never happened again.
Starting with humble beginnings, the EU's first form was the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). The founding group
was Belgium, West Germany, Luxembourg, France, Italy and the Netherlands. Impressed with the results of the union the six
countries pressed on and in 1956 signed the treaty of Rome, with the ultimate goal of creating a common market- the European
Economic Community (EEC). In 1967 the union was formalised further with a the creation of a single Commission, as well as
a council of ministers and a EU parliament.
Post-1967 the EU continued to grow; Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom joined in 1973. Greece joined in 1981, Spain
and Portugal in 1986 and Austria, Finland and Sweden in 1995. The EU pressed on with economic integration and launched the
Euro(€) across several nations in January 2002.
In 2004 a further 10 countries joined the EU "club", including Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary,
Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.