Glossary of summaries

Help Export PDF Print this page 


The creation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was the starting point for over 50  years of European treaty-making. Between 1951 (ECSC Treaty) and 2001(Treaty of Nice), no fewer than 16 treaties were signed. This series of treaties did far more than simply amend the original text; new treaties were born and gradually extended the family.

The principal treaties are as follows:

  • Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), signed in Paris in 1951. This treaty expired on 23 July 2002.
  • Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (EEC), signed in Rome in 1957.
  • Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), signed in Rome in 1957.
  • Single European Act (SEA), signed in Luxembourg in 1986.
  • Treaty on European Union (TEU), signed in Maastricht in 1992.
  • Treaty of Amsterdam, signed in 1997.
  • Treaty of Nice, signed in 2001.

All these treaties were amended on a number of occasions, in particular at the time of accession to membership of new countries in 1973 (Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom), in 1981 (Greece), in 1986 (Spain and Portugal), in 1995 (Austria, Finland and Sweden), in 2004 (Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia), in 2007 (Bulgaria and Romania) and in 2013 (Croatia).

Following difficulties in some EU countries in ratifying a European constitutional treaty signed in 2004, European leaders in 2007 agreed to convene an inter governmental conference to finalise and adopt not a constitution but a ‘reform treaty’  for the EU. The Lisbon Treaty, signed on 17  December 2007, entered into force on 1  December 2009. It comprises the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU). Its provisions are incorporated in the existing treaties.