40 years after the Treaty of Rome was signed what is next for the European Union?
On 25 March 1957 the Treaty of Rome was signed by Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany and the six countries formed the European Economic Community.
After two major wars, they wanted to find a better way.
The six members agreed to develop common policies on agriculture, trade and competition with the abolition of trade tariffs between member states. 40 years on the Euroepan Union has now grown to fifteen members creating
The most powerful trading block in the world with one single market and a common currency planned for 1999.
The foreign ministers from the member states are now negotiating a new treaty. However, there are disagreements over a common military policy. Fractures also exist between the Irish and the French over the structure of the European Commission. Irish Commissioner to the European Union Padraig Flynn expressed his concerns over the position of smaller countries telling RTÉ News that,
Every member state should have a commissioner at the table.
However, the French believe that as the European Union grows, the size and representation of the European Commission should be cut. Minister for Foreign Affairs Dick Spring says there is no room for compromise over the basic right to have representation at the European Commission.
The main challenge for the EU over the next 40 years is accommodating the needs of any future new members.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 25 March 1997. The reporter is Tommie Gorman.