Treaty of Brussels (Merger Treaty)
Treaty establishing a single Council and a single Commission of the European Communities
WHAT WAS THE AIM OF THE TREATY?
The Brussels Treaty establishing a single Council and single Commission of the European Communities (known as the ‘Merger Treaty’) was signed with the explicit intention of unifying the 3 then-existing European Communities (EC) — the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or more commonly known as ‘Euratom’).
While keeping the 3 communities legally independent, the Merger Treaty rationalised their institutions by merging their then still independent executive bodies — thus bringing to 5 the number of common European institutions — and amended the 3 community treaties accordingly.
A single Council and a single Commission
The executive bodies were merged as follows:
- The Council of the European Communities — today’s Council of the European Union — replaced as a single body the Special Council of Ministers of the ECSC, the Council of the EEC and the Council of Euratom;
- The Commission of the European Communities — today’s European Commission — replaced as a single body the High Authority of the ECSC, the Commission of the EEC and the Commission of Euratom.
However, the new single executive bodies would continue to act in accordance with the treaties governing each of the 3 communities, as well as in accordance with the new articles of this treaty.
The rules governing their composition and functioning were assembled in a single body of text and the corresponding articles of the EC treaties were repealed.
Where there were differences between the 3 treaties regarding the Council:
- the duration of the presidency was aligned with the longer one provided by the EEC and Euratom Treaties;
- the rules on decision-making were harmonised only in so far as required for acts adopted on the basis of the 3 treaties (i.e. concerning the common institutions, budget and administration);
- the concepts of simple majority, qualified majority and unanimity were harmonised along the lines of the EEC and Euratom Treaties;
- Coreper was formalised as a preparatory body of the Council and extended to the ECSC Treaty.
Where there were differences between the 3 treaties regarding the Commission:
- the number of members was set at 9;
- the rules on the designation of the members and their status, and on the functioning of the Commission in general, were aligned with those of the EEC Treaty;
- the date on which the Commission is required to publish its general report on the activities of the European Communities was harmonised, as well as the date on which the Parliamentary Assembly should meet in order to examine this report;
- the rules on how the Commission is politically accountable to the Parliamentary Assembly were aligned with those of the EEC and Euratom Treaties, with the possibility of censuring the Commission’s management at any time (and not only upon the examination of the yearly general report).
A single administrative budget for the EC
The budget covers the expenditure of all the EC institutions, including those of the Parliamentary Assembly and of the Court of Justice.
The expenditure for interventions under the ECSC Treaty and the Research and Development expenditures under the Euratom Treaty were, however, kept under separate budgets.
A single administration for the EC
All the officials and other agents of the EC institutions belong to a single administration.
The rules governing them and their rights and obligations are uniform and derive from a single status.
The rules on the responsibility of the EC in the case of injury caused by a personal fault of an official or agent for their action are unified.
The privileges and immunities granted to the EC institutions as well as to their officials and other agents are also unified in a single protocol to the treaty.
The seats of the EC institutions
To respond to legal objections raised by Luxembourg, the governments of the EC countries were given the power to decide by mutual agreement on the solution to be found with regard to establishing the seats of the executive bodies of the EC in Brussels. The decision was taken the same day as the signing of the Treaty and consisted of designating Brussels as the provisional seat.
FROM WHEN DID THE TREATY APPLY?
Signed on 8 April 1965, it applied from 1 July 1967.
Before the Merger Treaty, the 3 European Communities already shared some common institutions by virtue of the 1957 Convention on certain institutions common to the European Communities: the Parliamentary Assembly (later to become the European Parliament), the Court of Justice and the Economic and Social Committee.
The Merger Treaty was a major stepping stone toward the modern EU. The treaty was repealed — with the exception of the Protocol of 8 April 1965 on the privileges and immunities of the European Communities — by the Amsterdam Treaty signed on 2 October 1997 which entered into force on 1 May 1999.
For more information, see:
Treaty establishing a Single Council and a Single Commission of the European Communities (OJ 152, 13.7.1967, pp. 2-17 (DE, FR, IT, NL))
Protocol on the privileges and immunities of the European Communities (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, pp. 266-272)
Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community
Treaty establishing the European Economic Community
Successive amendments to the treaty have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference only.
Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community
Convention on certain institutions common to the European Communities
Treaty of Amsterdam amending the Treaty on European Union, the Treaties establishing the European Communities and certain related acts (OJ C 340, 10.11.1997, pp. 1-144)
See consolidated version.
last update 21.03.2018