Italy was one of the 6 founding members of the European Union (EU) in 1957. The EU developed from the European Commission (EC) which itself was developed from the European Economic Community (EEC).
- Italy has sometimes been questioned and mistrusted by fellow EU members. In the build-up to adoption of the euro, there were serious concerns that Italy would not be able to meet the financial requirements laid out in the Maastrict Treaty due to the public debt. There were arguments made for Italy (along with some other Mediterranean countries) be left out of the Eurozone. Following the economic downturn in 2008 those concerns grew, however they were overshadowed by other the economic problems with the euro in other countries such as Greece and Ireland.
- Italy also caused dismay amongst some members in 2003, when it decided to support the US-led invasion of Iraq, which was opposed by France and Germany. This placed a certain strain upon relations between some member states.
In 1955 Messina hosted a conference attended by the Foreign Ministers of the European Coal and Steel Community: Italy, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. At the conference they decided to adopt economic integration in order to achieve political union. They agreed the idea of a Common Market which resulted in the Treaty of Rome.
Two years later in Rome, representatives of the six founding countries signed the two treaties establishing the EEC.
Over the years further treaties and agreements were made. In 1972 Franco Maria Malfatti became president of the EC. In 1975 the UK, Denmark and Ireland joined and a single style passport was adopted.
In 1980 in Venice the European Council (the part of the EU responsible for defining its general political direction), chaired by Italy, approved the Venice Declaration on the Middle East, which, among other things, recognised the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, the first sign of common European foreign policy.
In 1985 in Milan the council decided to create a single European market by the end of 1992. In 1990 in Rome the council approved political and monetary union which included European citizenship as well national citizenship. That same year Italy helped draft the Treaty of Maastricht which leads to formation of the European Union.
From September 1999 to November 2004 Romano Prodi was president of the European Commission. During this time the European Constitution was written and then signed in Rome.
The video demonstrates differences between Europe and Italy by Bruno Bozzetto, the cartoonist and satirist.
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