European Unity Movement

1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s


1945-May-08 World War against Germany ends with UK national debt at 250% of GDP.

1945-Jul-05 Clement Atlee won the end of war general election for Labour after rejecting Winston Churchill's proposal of a referendum on continuing the wartime coalition.

1945-Sep-02 World War Two ended with the surrender of Japan.

1945-Oct-24 United Nations founded.

1946-Sep-19 Winston Churchill called for a United States of Europe to guarantee peace on the continent.

1946-Dec-15 The Union of European Federalists set up to campaign for the establishment of a federal Europe and to prevent further war on the continent.

1947-Jan-01 British coal industry nationalised.

1947-Jan British United Europe Movement founded by Winston Churchill and his son-in-law Conservative MP Duncan Sandys to promote a united Europe as a region under the United Nations.

1947-Jul-17 United Europe Movement among the groups who met as the Committee on the Coordination of the European Movements.

1947-Aug-15 India and Pakistan gained independence from the British Empire.

1947-Nov-10 Committee on the Coordination of the European Movements renamed as the Joint International Committee on European Unity. Chaired by Duncan Sandys.

1948-Apr-03 Marshall Plan launched for the economic reconstruction of Europe. The UK was the biggest beneficiary receiving 24% of funds by the time it closed in 1950.

1948-Apr-16 Organisation for European Economic Co-operation formed under the Marshall Plan to disseminate aid and to encourage inter-governmental economic co-operation. Its eighteen members were Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK, and West Germany.

1948-May-07-11 Europe Congress met in The Hague, Netherlands. It called for further progress towards European integration and a human rights charter to be governed by a court. Chaired by Winston Churchill and organised by the Joint International Committee on European Unity. It was split between federalists and those wanting an inter-governmental body.

1948 -May-14 Israel gained independence from the British Empire.

1948-Jun-24 Soviet Union began the blockade of West Berlin (the French, British, and American sectors of the city).

1948-Oct-25 Joint International Committee on European Unity became the European Movement with Duncan Sandys as its president.

1949-Jan-28 Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and the UK agree to set up the Council of Europe.

1949-May-12 Soviet Union ended the West Berlin blockade.

1949-Aug-10 Council of Europe held its first meeting in Strasbourg, France.

1949 British Commonwealth formed to unite the countries of the British Empire with those who gained independence from it.

1949-Apr-04 NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) established by Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, UK, and the United States.

1949-May-24 West Germany established.


1950-May-09 Schuman Declaration proposed economic collaboration between France and West Germany under one supra-national authority.

1950-Jun-02 British government rejected UK involvement in the Schuman plan.

1950-Jun-25 North Korean army invaded South Korea and the three-year Korean War commences, which brings American, British, and Australian troops back into military action.

1950-June-30 Marshall Aid ended and the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation's influence on European integration diminished.

1950-Aug-26 Schuman Declaration endorsed by the Council of Europe.

1950-Nov-04 The Council of Europe published the European Convention on Human Rights.

1951-Apr-18 Treaty of Paris established the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). It was a 50-year treaty signed by Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands, Luxembourg, and West Germany, which expired in 2002.

1951-Oct-26 Winston Churchill became UK prime minister again.

1952-May-27 European Defence Community Treaty signed.

1952-Jul-23 ECSC came into existence.

1953-Feb-10 ECSC common market in coal and iron ore commenced.

1953-Mar-05 Joseph Stalin died leading to uncertainty about the future of communist states in Eastern Europe.

1953-Mar-09 Paul-Henri Spaak presented ECSC Council with a plan for a European Political Community that would include a two chamber parliament and council of national ministers, guarantee to defend any member that was militarily attacked, co-ordinate foreign policy, and create a common market.

1953-Mar-15 ECSC common market in scrap iron commenced.

1953-Jul-27 armistice signed in Korean War, but no peace deal is signed.

1953-Sep-03 European Convention on Human Rights came into force (this is run by the Council of Europe and is not part of the EU).

1954-May-07 French Army surrendered at Dien Bien Phu to Vietnamese communist forces.

1954-Aug-30 French National Assembly rejected the European Defence Community Treaty over the possible presence of West German troops on French soil. The Spaak Plan for a European Political Community was abandoned.

1954-Nov-10 Jean Monnet resigned as president of the ECSC High Authority.

1954-Dec-21 UK and ECSC signed an association agreement. The main signatories were Duncan Sandys and Jean Monnet.

1955-Apr-05 Winston Churchill resigned as prime minister due to failing health. He was replaced by Anthony Eden as Conservative leader and prime minister.

1955-May-05 Anthony Eden won a general election with a majority of sixty seats.

1955-May-09 West Germany joined NATO.

1955-May-14 Warsaw Pact created.

1955-Jun-01-03 foreign ministers of the ECSC member states gathered at the Messina Conference to discuss a common market and cooperation in atomic energy. An Intergovernmental Committee was set up with Paul-Henri Spaak as chair, who invited British involvement and the UK government sent a senior diplomat, Russell Bretherton.

1955-Jul-09 Intergovernmental (Spaak) Committee held its first meeting.

1955-Oct-13 Jean Monnet founded the Action Committee of the United States of Europe to promote European integration.

1955-Nov-07 UK withdrew from the Intergovernmental Committee over atomic policy and disengaged from plans to create the EU.

1955-Dec-13 Council of Europe launched its flag with a blue background and twelve yellow stars, which would be adopted by the EU thirty years later.

1956-Jan-18 Action Committee of the United States of Europe held first meeting at which it commended the work of the Messina Conference, but urged that atomic energy was integrated as well as the economy.

1956-Apr-21 Spaak Report (officially called Report by the Heads of Delegations to the Foreign Ministers) published by the Intergovernmental Committee on the structures for planning towards creating the EU.

1956-Jul-26 President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt nationalised the Suez Canal.

1956-Oct-29 Israel invaded Egypt.

1956-Oct-31 Hungarian prime minister Imre Nagy responded to student protests by promising to take the country out of the Warsaw Pact.

1956-Nov-04 Soviet Union invaded Hungary to reassert its authority and maintain the unity of the Warsaw Pact.

1956-Nov-05 French and British forces seized the Suez Canal, officially to avoid its capture by Israel.

1956-Dec-20 Anthony Eden gave final speech to the House of Commons, in which he denied prior knowledge of the Israeli invasion of Egypt.

1957-Jan-10 Anthony Eden resigned as prime minister over the Suez Crisis and is replaced as Conservative leader and prime minister by Harold Macmillan.

1957-Mar-25 Treaties of Rome establishing the EU and the European Atomic Energy Community signed by Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands, Luxembourg, and West Germany. The European Court of Justice (set up to adjudicate on the Paris Treaty) added the Rome Treaties to its remit. These treaties had no time limit.

1958-Jan-01 EU and the European Atomic Energy Community [Euratom] came into existence.

1958-Mar-19 European Parliament held its inaugural meeting and elected Robert Schuman as president.

1959-Jan-21 Council of Europe created the European Court of Human Rights.

1959-Jun-08 Greece applied to join the EU.

1959-Jul-31 Turkey applied to join the EU.


1960 Cyprus won independence from the British Empire.

1960-Jan-04 Stockholm Convention created the European Free Trade Association [EFTA] as a looser rival to the six countries of the EU's Paris and Rome Treaties. It is signed by Austria, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.

1960-May-03 EFTA launched.

1960-Dec-14 the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation became the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and embraced a more global purpose.

1961-Jul-31 Ireland applied to join the EU.

1961-Aug-09 UK applied to join the EU.

1961-Aug-10 Denmark applied to join the EU.

1961-Aug-12 Berlin Wall constructed.

1961-Sep-01 EU regulation on free movement of workers implemented.

1962-Jan-14 EU Common Agricultural Policy launched.

1962-Apr-30 Norway applied to join the EU.

1962-Jul-30 Common Agricultural Policy implemented.

1962-Nov-01 EU and Greece signed an association agreement.

1963-Jan-14 France blocked the British application to join the EU. Denmark withdrew its application and Ireland's application failed shortly afterwards.

1963-Jan-18 Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell died.

1963-Feb-05 Van Gend en Loos vs. Nederlandse Administratie de Belastingen judgement by the European Court of Justice ruled that member states had consented to sacrifice some of their sovereignty by joining the EU.

1963-Feb-14 Harold Wilson elected Labour Party leader.

1963-Sep-16 Malaysia (including Singapore until 1966) gained independence from the British Empire.

1963-Oct-19 Harold Macmillan resigned as prime minister. He was replaced as Conservative leader and prime minister by Alec Douglas Home.

1963-Dec-12 Kenya gained independence from the British Empire.

1964-Sep-21 Malta gained independence from the British Empire.

1964-Oct-16 Harold Wilson won the general election for Labour and became prime minister.

1964-Dec-01 EU and Turkey signed an association agreement.

1965-Apr-08 Merger Treaty created the EU Commission and the EU Council to oversee the European Communities (Coal and Steel, Atomic Energy, and Economic).

1965-Jul-01 EU crisis over the Common Agricultural Policy when France left the talks and suspended high level involvement with the EU.

1965-Nov-11 Rhodesia made unilateral declaration of independence from the British Empire.

1966-Jan-01 as part of planned moved to a common market the EU moved to majority voting, so that no country has a veto.

1966-Jan-28 France agreed to return to high level EU involvement on condition that majority voting did not apply to matters of major importance.

1967-Feb-09 VAT rules agreed by EU Council of Ministers in the first effort at tax harmonisation.

1967-May-11 UK, Denmark, Ireland, and Norway applied to join the EU.

1967-Jul-01 Merger Treaty implemented, which results in one commission and one council for all European Communities (coal and steel, atomic, and economic).

1967-Nov-18 British government devalued sterling.

1967-Nov-27 France blocked the UK from membership of the EU.

1968-Jan-16 British government announced military withdrawal from East of Suez, i.e., ceasing to maintain military bases in Asia.

1968-Jul-01 EU customs union fully implemented ending customs duties between member states.

1968-Oct-05 police violently deal with Derry civil rights march, which led to widespread rioting that launched thirty years of political violence in Northern Ireland.

1969-Apr-28 Northern Ireland prime minister Terence O'Neil resigned after a unionist paramilitary bombing campaign. He was replaced as Ulster Unionist leader and prime minister by James Chichester Clark.

1969-Apr-28 Charles de Gaulle resigned as French president after his attempts at constitutional reform were voted down.

1969-Jun-20 Georges Pompidou became French president.

1969-Aug-12 Apprentice Boys march in Derry led to two days of riots in the city and across Northern Ireland.

1969-Aug-14 at the request of the Northern Irish government the British Army is deployed for peacekeeping duties in Northern Ireland. The deployment lasted until 2007.

1969-Oct-11 first police officer killed in the Troubles when officer shot dead by unionist paramilitaries in Belfast.

1969-Dec-01 EU Council discussed plans for economic and monetary union and alignment of social policies. They also agreed to the enlargement of the EU.


1970-Jan-01 Iceland joined EFTA.

1970 Common Fisheries Policy began to take shape within the Common Agricultural Policy. This was a key part of preparing for the entry of the maritime nations of Denmark, Ireland, Norway, and the UK. Member states retained exclusive fishing rights within twelve miles of their coastline.

1970-May-20 draft Werner Report submitted to the European Council, which proposed moves towards economic and monetary union.

1970-Jun-19 Ted Heath won the general election for the Conservatives with a healthy majority of thirty-one.

1970-Jun-30 negotiations between EU and Denmark, Ireland, Norway, and the UK to re-open their membership applications.

1970-Oct-08 Werner Report final version submitted to the European Council.

1971-Feb-06 Robert Curtis became the first British soldier to die on Northern Ireland's streets since the outbreak of violence.

1971-Mar-20 Northern Ireland prime minister James Chichester Clark resigned and Brian Faulkner became Ulster Unionist leader and prime minister.

1971-Mar-22 European Council agreed to a gradual ten year move towards economic and monetary union.

1971-Mar-23 100,000 farmers protested in Brussels against plans to change the Common Agricultural Policy.

1971-May-14 Tony Benn tabled an unsuccessful bill to the UK parliament calling for a referendum before the UK is taken into the EU.

1971-Jun-03 Ministers of Justice from EU member states met for first time and cede further powers to the European Court of Justice.

1971-Jul-16 SDLP and Nationalist Party MPs resigned from the Northern Irish Parliament in protest at the failure to launch an official enquiry into British soldiers shooting dead two Catholic men in Derry.

1971-Aug-09 internment without trial of 342 Irish nationalists in Northern Ireland.

1971-Oct-28 UK parliament voted by a majority of 112 to enter the EU.

1972-Jan-09 first British miner's strike since 1926.

1972-Jan-20 UK employment figure hit one million for the first time since the 1930s.

1972-Jan-22 Denmark, Ireland, Norway, and the UK signed the EU accession treaties.

1972-Jan-30 British Parachute Regiment soldiers shot dead thirteen protestors in Derry. Known as Bloody Sunday.

1972-Feb-02 British Embassy in Dublin burnt down by protestors.

1972-Feb-09 British government declared a state of emergency due to impact of the coal strike on the electricity supply.

1972-Feb-16 three day working week imposed to conserve power supplies.

1972-Feb-18 Ted Heath cancelled his planned weekend meeting with French president Georges Pompidou about the UK's EU entry, so that he could seek a resolution to the miners' strike by inviting union leaders to Downing Street.

1972-Feb-19 miners' union leaders accepted pay settlement and recommended that their members vote to end the strike.

1972-Feb-22 Official IRA bombed the Parachute Regiment barracks in Aldershot (England).

1972-Feb-25 miners voted to end their strike and accept a 21% pay increase.

1972-Feb-28 miners returned to work.

1972-Mar-17 in a speech to the annual meeting of the Christian Socialist Movement Tony Benn called on the Labour Party to support a referendum prior to EU entry.

1972-Mar-29 Labour shadow cabinet reversed its previous position and supported a referendum being held before joining the EU.

1972-Mar-30 the Northern Ireland parliament is suspended and direct rule from London imposed.

1972-Apr-23 French referendum approved expansion of EU to include Denmark, Ireland, Norway, and the UK.

1972-Apr-24 EU currency snake established whereby member states agreed to keep their currencies with a 2.25% fluctuation.

1972-May-10 Irish referendum approved joining the EU.

1972-May-29 Official IRA announced ceasefire and apart from occasional breaches never returned to violence.

1972-Jun-26 Provisional IRA began truce.

1972-Jul-07 secret negotiations between British government and the IRA.

1972-Jul-09 Provisional IRA ended truce. For the rest of the timeline IRA refers to the Provisional IRA.

1972-Jul-21 IRA detonated twenty-two bombs and killed nine people. Known as Bloody Friday

. 1972-Sep-12 EU members plus Denmark, Ireland, Norway, and the UK agreed to a plan for monetary union.

1972-Sep-25 Norwegian referendum rejected joining the EU.

1972-Oct-02 Danish referendum approved joining the EU.

1972-Oct-16 UK parliament approved joining the EU by a slender majority of eight votes.

1972-Oct-19 EU Council summit affirmed a deadline of 1980 for monetary union.

1972-Dec-01 two car bombs exploded in Dublin with one killing two bus conductors.

1973-Jan-01 Denmark, Ireland, and UK join the EU.

1973-Jan-01 EU implemented free trade deal with Austria, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland.

1973-Mar-08 Northern Ireland border poll held, but boycotted by those in favour of a united Ireland, so 98% voted to remain in the UK. The IRA detonated bombs in London, Belfast, and Derry.

1973-Apr-01 free trade agreement between the EU and Iceland implemented.

1973-Jun-28 election held for the new Northern Ireland Assembly.

1973-Jul-01 Norway and the EU free trade agreement implemented.

1973-Oct-05 Finland and the EU enter a free trade agreement limited to industrial goods.

1973-Oct-06 Yom Kippur War began between Israel and its Arab neighbouring states, which led to an oil crisis for European economies.

1973-Nov-22 Ted Heath appointed new Northern Irish executive with the Ulster Unionists' former prime minister Brian Faulkner as chief executive and SDLP leader Gerry Fitt as his deputy.

1973-Dec-09 Sunningdale Agreement granted the Republic of Ireland a consultative role in certain aspects of Northern Ireland's governance.

1974-Jan-01 EU and Finland free trade agreement implemented.

1974-Jan-01 Northern Ireland Executive assumes power and direct rule ended.

1974-Jan-04 Ulster Unionists rejected the Sunningdale Agreement.

1974-Jan-07 Brian Faulkner resigned as the Ulster Unionist leader, but remained Chief Executive of Northern Ireland.

1974-Feb-07 Ted Heath called a general election over claims that the National Union of Mineworkers was trying to bring down the Conservative government.

1974-Feb-28 Harold Wilson won the general election for Labour and returned as prime minister of a minority government. Labour had included a manifesto promise to hold a referendum on staying in or leaving the EU. Anti-Sunningdale unionists won eleven of twelve Westminster seats in Northern Ireland and their refusal to support Ted Heath's Conservatives handed minority power to Wilson.

1974-Apr-01 new British foreign secretary James Callaghan calls for changes to the Common Agricultural Policy, member state contributions to the EU budget, and monetary policy.

1974-Apr-25 uprising by junior military officers ended Portugal's dictatorship and heralded a return to democracy.

1974-May-14 Ulster Workers Council general strike against the Northern Ireland Executive.

1974-May-17 unionist paramilitaries bomb Dublin and Monaghan killing thirty-three people.

1974-May-28 Northern Ireland Executive collapsed and direct rule from London re-imposed.

1974-May-29 Ulster Workers Council general strike called off.

1974-Jun-21 European Court of Justice ruled that member states may not make it more difficult for a citizen of another member state to set up a business than for one of their own citizens.

1974-Jul-09 announcement that internment in Northern Ireland would be phased out.

1974-Jul-15 Greek junta precipitated military coup in Cyprus.

1974-Jul-20 Turkey invaded Cyprus to protect ethnic Turks in response to a coup instigated by Greece's military rulers and seized one third of the island.

1974-Jul-23 Cypriot junta collapsed and ceasefire declared between Cypriot and Turkish forces.

1974-Jul-24 Greece's military rulers handed over power to politicians and democracy is restored.

1974-Oct-05 IRA bombed two pubs in Guildford, England.

1974-Oct-10 general election gained Labour a parliamentary majority of three, which was his aim to strengthen his hand in negotiations with the EU.

1974-Nov-21 IRA bombed two pubs in Birmingham, England, killing twenty-one people.

1974-Nov-25 IRA declared an illegal organization by the British government.

1974-Nov-29 British government passed the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which sanctioned racially profiling Irish and Northern Irish visitors to Britain.

1974-Nov-30 German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt addressed the Labour Party Annual Conference on the topic of the EU.

1974-Dec-09 European summit of heads of government agrees to meet three times a year as the European Council. Throughout this book European Council is used to refer to EU head of government summits, including those prior to 1975.

1974-Dec-22 IRA ceasefire to facilitate discussions with British government.

1975-Jan-17 IRA ceasefire ended and a campaign against London civilian targets was launched.

1975-Jan-23 Harold Wilson announced the referendum on staying in or leaving the EU.

1975-Feb-04 Margaret Thatcher defeated Ted Heath in an election for leadership of the Conservative Party, but with insufficient votes for an outright victory. He withdrew and a further ballot was held a week later as Thatcher's vote tally was insufficient for an outright win.

1975-Feb-11 Margaret Thatcher became Conservative Party leader and the first woman to lead a major European political party.

1975-Feb-13 Turkish Administrative Area in northern Cyprus declared itself the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus.

1975-Mar-10 European Council met in Dublin and agreed concessions with the UK in advance of the proposed referendum.

1975-Apr-09 UK parliament voted by 396 to 170 to both approve the renegotiation and to remain part of the EU.

1975-Apr-26 Labour Party conference on EU membership voted to leave.

1975-Apr-30 last US administrators forced to flee Vietnam when communist forces seized Saigon.

1975-May-01 election to Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention to attempt to restore power sharing and end direct rule from London.

1975-Jun-05 referendum on the UK's EU membership won by yes (remain) side with 67% of the vote.

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