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Dictionary

EU Treaties

The Treaty of Rome is the 1957 founding treaty of the European Economic Community, which became the EC (European Community), and today's EU in 1993. Since then there have been the Single European Act (SEA 1986), Maastricht Treaty (1992), Treaty of Amsterdam (1997), and the current Treaty of Lisbon (2007).

Treaty of Rome

The Treaty of Rome is the 1957 founding treaty of the European Economic Community, which became the EC (European Community), and today's EU in 1993.

Article 2 of the Treaty of Rome:

The Community shall have as its task, by establishing a common market and progressively approximating the economic policies of Member States to promote throughout the Community a harmonious development of economic activities, a continuous and balanced expansion, an increase in stability, an accelerated raising of the standard of living and closer relations between the States belonging to it.

An amendment to the treaty, the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam, includes the term 'sustainable':

The Community shall have as its task, by establishing a common market and an economic and monetary union and by implementing common policies or activities referred to in Articles 3 and 4, to promote throughout the Community a harmonious, balanced and sustainable development of economic activities, a high level of employment and of social protection, equality between men and women, sustainable and non-inflationary growth, a high degree of competitiveness and convergence of economic performance, a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment, the raising of the standard of living and quality of life, and economic and social cohesion and solidarity among Member States.

The Treaty of Rome has been replaced by the Treaties of Maastricht (1993), Amsterdam (1997), and lastly Lisbon (2007).

Single European Act SEA

The Single European Act of 1986 was a revision of the foundation treaty of the EU: the 1957 Treaty of Rome.

Although primarily concerned with the removal of internal barriers and advancing political union and economic cooperation, a chapter specifically on the environment was included in this amendment to the EC Treaty.

Maastricht Treaty TEU

The 1992 Maastricht Treaty on European Union (TEU) was the first significant change to the structure of the EC Treaty. Under the Maastricht Treaty, the three treaties (ECSC, EURATOM, and EC) were amalgamated to the single European Community. To this were added the second 'pillar', foreign and security policy, and the third 'pillar', home affairs and justice policy. The Maastricht TEU incorporated fundamental human rights, which included every national of a Member State being concurrently a citizen of the EU. TEU also set up a timetable for the EMU (Economic and Monetary Union), which saw the creation of the Euro Zone in 2001-3.

Treaty of Amsterdam

The 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam is an amendment to the EU treaty, and includes the term 'sustainable development' within its policy declaration.

'The Community shall have as its task, by establishing a common market and an economic and monetary union and by implementing common policies or activities referred to in Articles 3 and 4, to promote throughout the Community a harmonious, balanced and sustainable development of economic activities, a high level of employment and of social protection, equality between men and women, sustainable and non-inflationary growth, a high degree of competitiveness and convergence of economic performance, a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment, the raising of the standard of living and quality of life, and economic and social cohesion and solidarity among Member States.'

Treaty of Lisbon

The 2007 Treaty of Lisbon amends the Maastricht Treaty (1993) and the Treaty of Rome (1958), brought into being after the proposed European constitution was rejected by voters in France and Holland in 2005.

Under the terms of the Treaty, Environment falls under the 'Shared Competence' policy category, which rules that 'Member States cannot exercise competence in areas where the Union has done so.'

TITLE XX Environment Article 191 (ex-Article 174 EGV)

1. Union policy on the environment shall contribute to pursuit of the following objectives:

  • - preserving, protecting and improving the quality of the environment,
  • - protecting human health,
  • - prudent and rational utilisation of natural resources,
  • - promoting measures at international level to deal with regional or worldwide environmental problems, and in particular combating climate change.

2. Union policy on the environment shall aim at a high level of protection taking into account the diversity of situations in the various regions of the Union. It shall be based on the precautionary principle and on the principles that preventive action should be taken, that environmental damage should as a priority be rectified at source and that the polluter should pay.

In this context, harmonisation measures answering environmental protection requirements shall include, where appropriate, a safeguard clause allowing Member States to take provisional measures, for non-economic environmental reasons, subject to a procedure of inspection by the Union.

3. In preparing its policy on the environment, the Union shall take account of:

  • - available scientific and technical data,
  • - environmental conditions in the various regions of the Union,
  • - the potential benefits and costs of action or lack of action,
  • - the economic and social development of the Union as a whole and the balanced development of its regions.

4. Within their respective spheres of competence, the Union and the Member States shall cooperate with third countries and with the competent international organisations. The arrangements for Union cooperation may be the subject of agreements between the Union and the third parties concerned.

The previous subparagraph shall be without prejudice to Member States' competence to negotiate in international bodies and to conclude international agreements.