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European Economic Community (EEC)

  The European Economic Community is an economic union among 12 western European democratic countries formed to integrate their economies by reducing and removing trade barriers among members, by adopting a common trade policy toward the outside world, and by providing for the free movement of labour and capital within the group. The EC has a Council of Ministers, a Commission, a European Parliament, and a Court of Justice.

The Community was founded on 25 March 1957, when six countries—France, the former West Germany, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg and Italy—signed the Treaty of Rome. It was a direct development from the European Coal and Steel Community, founded by the above six at the Treaty of Paris in 1951, which still exists as an adjunct to the EEC. In 1973, three more members joined the club, the UK, Ireland and Denmark, and in 1981 Greece joined, then Spain and Portugal in 1986.

The EC is moving toward even more economic integration than the goals above suggest. There is now agreement to merge into a single trading block. Businesses in countries outside the group anticipate that it may become more difficult to enter the EC market and are actively developing branch or joint production facilities within in at as well as searching for ways to export into it. In addition to economic integration, the EC has an ultimate goal of political union.

The European Monetary System (EMS) is an organization whose members agree to hold their exchange rates in a relatively fixed relation to the currencies of the other members. Not all of the EC members have joined this monetary system, indeed, some members have pulled out of it, but even so the EC members are discussing how to achieve a single Eurocurrency and a European central bank.

In the 1980s, the pressures of recession, and the difficulties of decision-making by 12 countries with often divergent national interests, has meant that progress in economic fields has largely stagnated. TF



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