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There are a number of important documents that have shaped the development of the European Union and have either directly or indirectly influenced the drafting of the main treaties. A small selection of these are shown below. In addition, the text of the UK Communities Act of 1972 is included.

The Schuman Declaration

The Messina Declaration

The Luxembourg Compromise

The Stuttgart Declaration

The draft Treaty on European Union - the Spinelli Treaty

The Laeken Declaration

UK European Communities Act

Text of the Schuman Declaration

The Schuman Declaration was presented by Robert Schuman, the French Foreign Minister, on 9 May 1950; this instigated the process that lead to the creation of the Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951.

Text of the Schuman Declaration Text of the Schuman Declaration 1950

Text of the Messina Declaration

The Messina Declaration was drafted on 3 June 1955 and was one of the more influential documents concerned with the development of the European Union. It confirmed the intention that the European Community should evolve into more than simply an economic and customs community.

Two of the more important aspects were the development of the european economic policy and the European social policy and the idea of the creation of a community energy policy.

The Treaty establishing the European Economic Community and the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, signed in 1957, arose form the discussions at Messina. The discussions on the creation of a common European Energy Policy also originate from the Messina Declaration.

Another aspect of the Declaration was that the United Kingdom would be invited to become involved in the discussions.

Text of the Messina Declaration Text of the Messina Declaration 1955

Text of the Luxembourg Compromise and the Extraordinary Session of the Council in 1966

The extraordinary session of the European Council was held owing to the disagreement of how the European Community should operate. The French goverment, under President Charles de Gaulle, considered that the Community should be one of individual Member States each protecting their national interests, while other countries wanted the Community to operate on a more unified basis.

At this time, the majority of decisions in the Council were made under unanimity, which meant that if one country decided against a particular piece of legislation, it would not become law. There was a trend developing in the Council that more decisions should be made by majority voting, leading to the situation of the French not attending some Council sessions - sometines referred to as 'the empty chair'.

In order to resolve this situation a conference was called in an attempt to reach a compromise. The resulting unofficial agreement, the Luxembourg Compromise allowed that where there was an issue of national importance, discussions would continue until a suitable compromise was reached. This essentailly allowed Member States to retain a veto over proposed legislation that was nationally unacceptable.

The principal articles of the Luxembourg Compromise are shown on pages 5 and 6 of the linked document and are as follows:

I. Where, in the case of decisions which may be taken by majority vote on a proposal of the Commission, very important interests of one or more partners are at stake, the Members of the Council will endeavour, within a reasonable time, to reach solutions which can be adopted by all the Members of the Council while respecting their mutual interests and those of the Community, in accordance with Article†2 of the Treaty.

II. With regard to the preceding paragraph, the French delegation considers that where very important interests are at stake the discussion must be continued until unanimous agreement is reached.

III. The six delegations note that there is a divergence of views on what should be done in the event of a failure to reach complete agreement.

IV. The six delegations nevertheless consider that this divergence does not prevent the Communityís work being resumed in accordance with the normal procedure.

Text of the Luxembourg Compromise and the Extraordinary Session of the Council Text of the Luxembourg Compromise and the Extraordinary Session of the Council, 1966

Text of the Stuttgart Declaration

The Solemn Declaration on European Union, signed in Stuttgart, was agreed on 19 June 1983. It was an unofficial statement of intent that, although not legally binding, clearly set out the intended direction of the European Community and how the scope of the Community's actions would be expanded.

The principal issues addressed included teh following:

  • the concept of increasing integration and developing the Community into the European Union

  • it established the European Council as a more formal instituion able to arbitrate on matters of EC law, although this was not recognised in the Treaties

  • the terms of reference for the other institutions of the Community were described clearly, including the concept of delegating powers to the Commission

  • the introduction of the concept of the Community developing a foreign policy

The ideas in the Declaration were developed and incorporated into the Single European Act of 1986.

Text of the Stuttgart Declaration Text of the Stuttgart Declaration, 1983

Text of the draft Spinelli Treaty

The Spinelli Treaty is arguably one of the most influential documents concerned with the development of the European Union.

It was drafted in 1984 and was presented to the European Parliament, where it was overwhelmingly passed on 14 February 1984, by 237 votes for, 32 against and 34 abstentions.

The provisions of the Spinelli Treaty which have been included in the EU Treaties mainly concern:

  • the creation of the European Union;

  • Union citizenship;

  • the principle of subsidiarity;

  • the institutionalisation of the European Council;

  • the investiture of the Commission by the European Parliament;

  • the principle of EP/Council legislative co-decision;

  • co-operation in justice and home affairs;

  • co-operation regarding foreign and security policy;

  • the European monetary system;

  • social, health, environment, consumer, culture, and development aid policies;

  • and the multi-annual programming of expenditure.

The main provisions which had not been included concern:

  • revision of the Treaty through EP/Council co-decision;

  • abolition of unanimity in Council (Article 23 of the Spinelli Treaty provided for abolition of the veto within ten years);

  • the designation of Commission members by the Commission President;

  • the composition of the Union Council by ministers entrusted with the Unionís affairs;

  • the suspension of the rights of Member States in the event of serious and permanent violation of the Treaty provisions (this is partially covered by Article 7TEU);

  • The Union's shared competence in the area of Energy;

  • financial autonomy of the Union, a system of financial equalisation in order to attenuate the excessive imbalance between regions (e.g. of the kind existing in federal States such as Germany) and the abolition of the differentiation between compulsory spending (on which the EP does not have the last word) and non-compulsory expenditure;

  • and the introduction of the hierarchy of standards (basic law, laws, budgetary laws, regulations and decisions).

It is very noticeable that most of these have now been introduced by the Draft Treaty establishing the Constitution, in particular, the shared competence in energy (Article I-13), the hierarchy of laws (Article I-32)and the continuing process of the introduction of co-decision (now termed the ordinary legislative procedure in the Constitution).

The full text of the draft "Spinelli" Treaty is shown on the following pages.

Text of the Spinelli Draft Treaty Text of the Spinelli Draft Treaty, 1984

Text of the Laeken Declaration

The Laeken Declaration arose out of the negotiations that had led to the Treaty of Nice. It was recognised by the Heads of State and Government that Nice was unsatisfactory in dealing with the institutional issues over enlargement and the future development of the European Union.

The Treaty of Nice had been signed on 26 February 2001 and it was agreed to hold further discussions on how to resolve these institutional problems. The Declaration arose out of these discussions and it laid out the terms for the formation of a convention that would in turn lead to the draft Constitution and the Treaty of Lisbon.

The Declaration was signed on 15 December 2001 and raised four principal issues:

  • how to establish and monitor a more precise delimitation of powers between the European Union and the Member States, reflecting the principle of subsidiarity;

  • the status of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, proclaimed in Nice, in accordance with the conclusions of the European Council in Cologne;

  • a simplification of the Treaties with a view to making them clearer and better understood without changing their meaning;

  • the role of national parliaments in the European architecture.

Text of the Laeken Declaration Text of the Laeken Declaration 2001

Text of the UK European Communities Act

The full text of the UK European Communities Act 1972 is shown in the linked file.

This includes all of the amendments to the 1972 Act introduced by the subsequent Acts, including the European Communities (Amendment) Act 2002, incorporating the Treaty of Nice.

Text of the UK European Communities Act 1972

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This web-page was designed and written by Andrew Cowgill and was last updated on
2 January 2010

© Copyright Andrew Cowgill, 2010

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