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“[Europe] will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity”

The European project started with coal and steel but then broadened its focus to the economic sector, agriculture, social issues, the environment and many other policy fields. One of the original goals of the European Communities was to reduce the gaps between the various European regions, by strengthening the unity of their economies end ensuring their continuous development.

European institutions invested in development projects that left concrete footprints in the landscape of the Member States, and implemented a growing range of common policies that affect the everyday lives of European citizens. This process was not straightforward nor predetermined, but in the end it has fostered an ever-expanding web of relations between European countries. The question remains, how much it has contributed to create a de facto solidarity.

European Investment Bank (EIB) project Deutsche Bundesbahn (Germany), 1960-1961: electrification of the North-South axis’ railway. HAEU, BEI 2165 – Photo: Unknown​

Josep Borrell (ES), 
President of the European Parliament 2004-2007. HAEU, INT 799

Europe invests in regional development

The European Investment Bank (EIB) was established in 1958 to contribute to the financing of viable capital projects which further EU core values and policy goals.

Petrus Mathijsen (NL), 
European Commission official 1977-1986. HAEU, INT 215

Construction of a hydroelectric power plant in Taloro, Sardinia (Italy). HAEU, BEI 2154 – Photo: Unknown
Food processing industry in Moldova. © EIB
Construction of an acetylene factory in the south-west of France. HAEU, BEI 2144 – Photo: Unknown
Øresund Bridge, a link between Sweden and Denmark. © EIB

Treaties of Rome

On 25 March 1957 the representatives of Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany signed the Treaties of Rome, thereby founding the European Economic Community (EEC) and the EURATOM.

In the Preamble to the Treaty establishing the EEC, all the signatories committed to improve the living and working conditions of their peoples, and to reduce the differences existing between the various regions, in order to ensure the economic and social progress of their countries.​

Signatories to the Treaties gathered in the garden of the Belgian Embassy in Rome, admiring a poster designed to mark the event: from left to right, Paul Henri Spaak, Konrad Adenauer, Jean-Charles Snoy et d’Oppuers, Joseph Luns and Walter Hallstein. © AP 1957 -Source: EC – Photo: Ivan Crosceneo
Poster on the occasion of the signing of the Treaties of Rome. HAEU, NDG 51

Social policies for workers

Plans for workers’ accommodation prepared for the European Coal and Steel Community’s housing programme, January 1955. HAEU, CEAB 11/1666​
Report from the Commission of the European Economic Community on the evolution of the social situation of the Community, 1959. ​HAEU, CM2/1959 884
Bulletin of the European Communities on the Social Action Programme,1974. HAEU, CEDEFOP 5

A Common Agricultural Policy

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), launched in 1962, was the first common policy developed at European level.

Map published by the Publication Service of the European Communities: Agriculture – land use and main crops, 1962.  HAEU, CRNO 80​
Study on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) published by the Academic Association of Economic and Commercial Sciences, 1964. ​HAEU, GR 35

Taking care of the Environment

The European Commission published the first European Environmental Action Programme in 1973, while the Common Fisheries Policy was first introduced in the 1970s.

Poster produced by the European Commission: The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP): Manage to Fish Forever. HAEU, NDG 316​
Letter from the European Commissioner for Agriculture, Sicco Mansholt, to the President of the European Commission, Franco Maria Malfatti, explaining the need for a common environmental policy. 9 February 1972. HAEU, GR 142