What was the European Economic Community?

The European Economic Community was created by the Treaty of Rome in 1957. It was often called the Common Market, since its core function was fostering economic cooperation between its member states: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany.

The EEC operated alongside the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC). The three separate Communities were brought together in 1967, and the official name became the European Communities, although in practice most people spoke only of the EEC or the Common Market, the most important of the three.

This also meant that the practice of using the plural ‘Communities’ became increasingly uncommon outside of official documents. These names stayed unchanged through the 1970s and 1980s, although the use of the middle E in EEC, i.e. that standing for ‘Economic’, fell into disuse.

With the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, the EC became the EU. Maastricht brought into being three ‘pillars’, the first of which remained the EC, the other two being Common Security and Foreign Policy (CFSP), and the second covering Justice and Home Affairs (JHA). Strictly speaking the EC went on existing, but in practice references to the EU eclipsed those to the EC – and the Treaty of Lisbon in 2007 abolished the pillar structure.

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