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NATO is a politico-military organization founded in 1949 initially aimed to ensure the security and defence of Europe against the Soviet Union after World War II. Today, the security and defence of its members remains the fundamental objective of NATO, but the specific obligation to work towards an improvement and expansion of security for the whole of Europe and North American has been added to its objectives. The NATO headquarters are located in Brussels and have been since 1966 and its military command in is Mons (Belgium). NATO currently has 28 member countries.


Signed October 2, 1997 and entered into force on May 1, 1999, the Treaty of Amsterdam allows the EU to address institutional and political challenges of the future and especially for future enlargements. Amending previous treaties, its objectives were to ensure better efficiency of the community institutions and to create a space of “freedom, security and justice.”


Following the French and Dutch “no” to the referendum on the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, the idea of a simplified treaty was seen as the solution to exit the institutional deadlock and make the EU more democratic and transparent. Thus emerged the Treaty of Lisbon which was signed by the Heads of State and Government of the EU in December 2007 during the European Council meeting. The treaty needed to be ratified by all member states. In June 2008, Ireland rejected the text. Following this failure, the Heads of State and Governments wanted Ireland to vote again. A new referendum was held in October 2009 and the treaty was accepted.


Signed on February 7, 1992, in the Netherlands, the Treaty of Maastricht went beyond the purely economic objectives of the EEC (achieving the common market) and gave it a political purpose through the creation of the European Union (EU). It marked a new stage in the process of creating “an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe.” It also launched the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) to adopt a single currency. The Maastricht Treaty came into force on November 1, 1993, after ratification by the 12 member states of the Community.


The Treaty of Nice was signed on February 26, 2001, and entered into force on February 1, 2003. As a precondition for enlargement, the Treaty of Nice was to ensure proper institutional functioning if the Union enlarged to 27 members maximum. The institutional reform of the Treaty of Nice has been described as “technical” and “limited.” Indeed, the Treaty does not upset the institutional balance; it leads rather to adjustments oriented around two main themes: the functioning and composition of the institutions and other forms of enhanced cooperation.


The Treaty of Paris, signed April 18, 1951, established the first European community: the ECSC. A common market for coal and steel was established in 1953. Six countries signed the treaty for a duration of 50 years: Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The treaty expired in 2002.


After the enlargements of 2004, Europe needed new life; the need was felt for new European perspectives and broader and deeper reflection on the future of Europe. Therefore, the TECE was signed by the Heads of State or Government in Rome on October 29, 2004. To enter into force, the treaty needed to be ratified by all 27 member states, according to national procedures (by referendum or parliament). The failure of the French and Dutch referenda in May-June 2005 put a halt to the reform process.


On March 25, 1957, the six founding countries signed the Treaties of Rome, establishing the European Economic Committee (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). The objective of the EEC was to create a large common market in Europe, with free movement of people and goods between all Member States. Euratom was created out of the French desire to develop cooperation in the nuclear field, for peaceful purposes. Both treaties entered into force on January 1, 1958.