1. The union was established as a way to end the frequent, bloody wars between neighbouring countries. In 1950 the road to lasting peace is paved by the European Coal and Steel Community uniting countries economically and politically.
2. The 6 founding countries are Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
3. In 1957, the Treaty of Rome creates the European Economic Community (EEC), or ‘Common Market’.
4. The 1960s were a positive decade for the economy, helped by EU countries scrapping custom duties for trading between themselves.
5. Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom join the European Union on 1 January 1973, raising the number of Member States to nine.
6. In 1981, Greece becomes the 10th member of the EU, and Spain and Portugal follow five years later. In 1986 the Single European Act is signed, creating the route to the ‘Single Market’.
7. 9 November 1989, the Berlin Wall is pulled down after 28 years. This leads to the reunification of Germany in October 1990.
8. In 1993 the Single Market is completed with the ‘four freedoms’ of: movement of goods, services, people and money.
9. The 1990s is also the decade of two treaties: the ‘Maastricht’ Treaty on European Union in 1993 and the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1999.
10. In 1995 the EU gains three more new members: Austria, Finland and Sweden. A small village in Luxembourg gives its name to the ‘Schengen’ agreements that allow people to travel without having their passports checked at the borders. The euro is now the new currency for many Europeans.
11. The political divisions between east and west Europe are finally declared healed when no fewer than 10 new countries join the EU in 2004, followed by Bulgaria and Romania in 2007. Croatia becomes the 28th member of the EU in 2013.