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Conclusion

This module has set out to demonstrate the context and nature of the major developments of the European Union. As we have seen, the legacy of the Second World War and its aftermath played heavily in providing a context and impetus for European regional integration. The Cold War also played its part, particularly in ensuring American support for Europe in the form of NATO and the Marshall Plan. Without these factors, European Integration would have undoubtedly been more difficult and its outcomes less certain.

We have also looked in this module at the gradual evolution of the EU through new treaties and the updating of old treaties. We have seen the importance of the original Coal and Steel Community that paved the way for European integration, the Treaty of Rome that established the institutions of the EU, the SEA that helped to establish the single market and the Maastricht Treaty that created the European Union for the first time by completing the single market and incorporating a significant amount of political areas into the EU. We also discussed the historical significance of the Eastern enlargements that took the EU from fifteen to twenty-eight members. To complement the decision making procedures that we studied in module two, we also looked in some detail at the amendments proposed by the Lisbon treaty and some of the debates these changes raised.  In the final section, we briefly outlined some of the main crises that the EU is currently dealing with, but for more on that, check out Module 6.

This module has drawn our attention to the ever-changing nature of the European Union. The EU of today is vastly different from the EEC of 1957 or even the EU of 1993. The European Union is constantly changing and adapting both to pressures from outside and drives from within. It is partly this ever-evolving nature that makes the EU complicated to study and certainly challenging to theorise about. However, persevere we must, as to neglect the EU or the changes occurring within it would be to ignore the trend of increasing EU influence on supranational, national and local governance in the European space.

If you would like more information then the EuroparlTV History video channel and the Europa website history are both good starting points.

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