Treaty on European Union

(1992)

Context

For some fifteen hundred years, beginning with the collapse of the Roman Empire and culminating with World War II, the nations of Europe were intermittently at war with one another. Throughout that span of time, such historical figures as Charlemagne, Napoléon Bonaparte, and Adolf Hitler tried to unite Europe into a single political entity, but these efforts failed in part because they were based on force rather than cooperation. In the first decades of the twentieth century, European powers such as the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Germany, England, and France remained distrustful of one another and would have rejected out of hand the notion of ceding authority to a supranational body.

The horrors of the twentieth century's two world wars, however, led to changes in thinking. National leaders finally accepted that some sort of political union would be necessary to eliminate future wars. They also recognized that Europe, fragmented into numerous small nations, all with...