Skip to 0 minutes and 10 secondsSwitzerland, as we mentioned before, is not a Member State of the European Union. Why not? The answer is complex and involves three issues-- the birth of the European Union, Switzerland's attitude towards supranational structures, and the particularities of the Swiss democratic system. As all three issues are complex, we have decided to dedicate an individual video to each of them. Let us start with the birth of the European Union. The EU as it exists today is the result of a remarkable political and legal development. At its origin were three economic communities. They were founded by six European states in the 1950s. One was about coal and steel, one about atomic energy, and one about other economic matters.

Skip to 1 minute and 11 secondsToday, only the Atomic Energy Community, or EURATOM, still exists. The Coal and Steel Community had been set up only for 50 years. The European Economic Community, or EEC, later renamed European Community or EC, existed under this name until the end of November 2009. It was then integrated into the European Union. The latter came into existence on the 1st of November 1993. Now the EU exists alongside EURATOM as the only remaining community. EURATOM is an independent organisation that is, however, linked to the EU, in particular on the level of the institutions. We have provided a chart describing the relationship between the EU and EURATOM in the related links on this step.

Skip to 2 minutes and 12 secondsIt uses this picture of a planet and its satellite, as does a second chart in the related links that list the three most basic texts of present EU law, namely first the treaty on European Union, or TEU; second, the treaty on the functioning of the European Union, TFEU, which is the renamed and revised former EC treaty; and third, the Union's Charter of Fundamental Rights. You will find links to the most recent versions of these texts also in the same section. The number of Member States has grown over time, as you can also see in the chart.

Skip to 2 minutes and 58 secondsBefore going further, we would like to invite you to take a peek at all the material we have provided in the related links on this step.

The birth of the European Union

The origins of the European Union (EU) lie in the 1950s, when six European States founded three European Communities.

On the multilateral level, meaningful European economic integration began with the founding of three European Communities in the 1950s, one about coal and steel, one about atomic energy and one about other economic matters. Switzerland was not among the founding states. Through a remarkable political and legal development, these Communities subsequently developed into the European Union, as it exists today.

We provided some charts to deepen your understanding of EU law and the different Member States in the ‘downloads’ section. You also find a link to the recent version of the basic text of present EU law in the ‘see also’ section.

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This video is from the free online course:

Switzerland in Europe: Money, Migration and Other Difficult Matters

University of Basel