Rome, Treaty of

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From 1 to 3 June 1955 the foreign ministers of the six members (Belgium, Federal Republic of Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands) of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) met in Messina and Taormina in Sicily, Italy. The result was the so-called Messina resolution, which was a careful blend of German, Italian, and especially Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg) memorandums. The resolution envisaged two main avenues for "relaunching" European integration: a sectoral approach and a more comprehensive economic integration approach. The more functional, sectoral approach, which was supported by Jean Monnet, who then headed the High Authority of the ECSC, and by the Belgian foreign minister Paul-Henri Spaak, originally encompassed both the communications and energy sectors, including civil atomic energy. Yet the report of the Intergovernmental Committee, which was organized after Messina, met in Brussels, and was headed by Spaak, recommended focusing sectoral integration on atomic energy. As for overall integration—an approach initially presented by the Dutch foreign minister Johan Willem Beyen at the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC) in 1952 and that then found its way, in modified form, into the ill-fated 1953 draft treaty for a European Political Community—the report favored the creation of a customs union with a common external tariff as opposed to the realization of a free trade area. By the end of 1955, the United Kingdom announced it would no longer participate in the Intergovernmental Committee. The "Spaak report" was issued on 21 April 1956 and was approved at the Venice Conference of Foreign Ministers on 29–30 May 1956 as a basis for treaty negotiations. The ensuing intergovernmental conference, again under the chairmanship of Spaak, led to the signature of the Treaties of Rome on 25 March 1957 and their subsequent ratification by the six founding members of the ECSC. Both treaties entered into force on 1 January 1958. Two new communities were created: the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) and the European Economic Community (EEC).


During the negotiations some key issues had to be addressed, which did much to reveal the stakes for the participants as well as for other countries. As far as Euratom was concerned, Louis Armand, the French mastermind behind the Euratom proposal, who was also a member of the board of the French Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique, envisaged it as a pool of atomic resources, which would launch Europe on the road to energy independence. He expected to obtain U.S. help through the "Atoms for Peace" program announced by President Dwight Eisenhower in December 1953. Beyond reducing European dependence on energy imports, Euratom was also seen by the advocates of the French military program as a way of having France's partners foot most of the bill for an isotopic separation plant (which would produce enriched uranium, a key ingredient in manufacturing atomic bombs) by mentioning the creation of this plant in the Euratom treaty. In addition, the French and the Americans hoped that Euratom could become a means of completing the unfinished business of controlling the German nuclear industry. Even though the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) had temporarily renounced the manufacture of nuclear weapons during the Western European Union (WEU) negotiations, it had not renounced civil production, and there was no guarantee that it would not one day decide to go from peaceful uses of nuclear energy to military uses. But while the French initially advocated a centralized procurement and supply of fissile materials as well as control by Euratom, it soon became clear that if Euratom control stood in the way of the French nuclear program, the French National Assembly would never support the treaty. This was so even though Guy Mollet—the leader of the French Socialist Party—Monnet, and the German socialists initially envisaged Euratom as being exclusively limited to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, notably to ensure that the Germans would participate in Euratom on a basis of equality with other member states. The French, including Mollet, accordingly ended up supporting a solution in which Euratom did not control the use of fissionable materials destined for military purposes: Euratom would keep ownership rights of the materials up to the point where its control of these materials passed to the Western European Union. Since the FRG had renounced the manufacture of nuclear weapons to the WEU, it now found its whole nuclear sector controlled, while the French could pursue the development of their own nuclear military program.

But France did not succeed in obtaining all of its priorities. The United States, intent on using Euratom not only to further European integration but also for nonproliferation purposes, insisted on the exclusive ownership by Euratom of all fissionable materials provided by the United States and other sources. It also deemed it contrary to U.S. interests to help the six ECSC members build an uranium enrichment plant. Hence the announcement by Washington that it would guarantee an almost unlimited supply of enriched uranium to feed foreign nuclear power plants at a price that would be half or one-third that of European-produced uranium-235. Euratom would be given preferential treatment. Faced with such an offer, the six countries gradually abandoned the idea of building their own European enrichment plant. The Euratom treaty did not mention the construction of such a plant, which also considerably reduced the interest of Euratom for the French military nuclear program. Other difficulties during the Euratom negotiations included German insistence on private ownership of fissionable materials as opposed to Euratom ownership, the existence or the prospect of bilateral agreements for the sale of enriched uranium between the United States and some ECSC members, and competition from the British proposal of an OEEC cooperative plan on nuclear energy.


France's partners were mostly keen to have a European common market. The Benelux countries depended greatly on their export trade and anticipated substantial advantages from a lowering of trade barriers and increased competition within the EEC. The Germans, with the exception of Minister of Economic Affairs Ludwig Erhard, who preferred a European free trade area to a protectionist EEC, anticipated great benefits from a single market in industrial goods. But France's partners were much less supportive of Euratom than France was and insisted that the two treaties should be linked, so that there would be no Euratom if the EEC did not also come into existence. France was against linking the two treaties, as were the United States and Monnet, who feared that the EEC treaty would face ratification difficulties in France and might therefore doom Euratom. The French initially did not show much enthusiasm for the creation of a general common market, in which they feared competition from their neighbors, especially since their price levels were higher than some of their partners. Much of the French civil service preferred protecting French industry from German competition until it grew strong enough to withstand it. By contrast, Guy Mollet, who became the French prime minister in February 1956, and his foreign minister, Christian Pineau, were more favorable to the EEC, which they saw as a means of modernizing the French economy by opening it to foreign competition.

To convince French public opinion to support both treaties, Mollet and Pineau tried to focus on the creation of Euratom first and on the EEC second, to allow for enough time to gather support for the latter. Mollet organized important debates in the French National Assembly: one on atomic energy in July 1956 and another on the EEC in January 1957. They were instrumental in gathering support from French deputies and in sending signals to France's partners on what would and would not "sell" in France to ensure ratification of the treaties. On the EEC, France insisted on the creation of a common agricultural policy, a key demand of the French National Assembly and French farmers. France also asked for a harmonization of social charges so that French employers would not be put at a disadvantage in the common market and to preserve its levels of social welfare. This proposal included a standardized working week of forty hours, standardized overtime payment rates to equal those of France, equal pay for both sexes, and a harmonization of paid holidays. In addition, France requested the association of its overseas possessions with the common market so that goods from these territories would receive the same treatment as French goods. In the end, the EEC treaty did mention the future creation of a supranational common agricultural policy, although details were to be filled in by future negotiations. The treaty also contained important social provisions, including equal pay for equal work for men and women, an equivalence of paid holidays, and the creation of a European Social Fund. It provided for close economic ties between the EEC and overseas countries and territories having special relations with its members and for an investment fund to promote economic and social development.

Institutionally, the Rome treaties were a careful compromise between the concerns of small countries, who feared being dominated by larger ones, and French aversion to and German support for supranational institutions. The result was a strengthening of the council, the progressive introduction of qualified majority voting, and a relative weakening of the Euratom and EEC Commissions as compared to the High Authority of the ECSC. All in all, the Rome treaties negotiations amounted to a challenging balancing act between the intergovernmental and the supranational dimensions in building the European Communities. The treaties were signed without limitation in time and with no possibility for withdrawal.

See alsoEuropean Coal and Steel Community (ECSC); Organisation for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC).


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Pascaline Winand

Rome, Treaty of

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FrenchItalian pact in which some Middle Eastern territory changed hands.

In an effort to obtain Italy's support against Nazi Germany, France's foreign minister Pierre Laval signed the Treaty of Rome with Italy's dictator Benito Mussolini on 7 January 1935. France conceded small amounts of land in North and East Africa to Italy and, according to some accounts, the negotiations involved an unwritten pledge by Laval to support Italian claims in Ethiopia. When World War II began in 1939, Italy was allied with Germany, and Germany occupied France, so prewar agreements were negated or renegotiated.


Hurewitz, J. C., ed. The Middle East and North Africa in World Politics: A Documentary Record, 2d edition. 2 vols. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 19751979.

Taylor, A. J. P. The Origins of the Second World War. New York: Atheneum, 1961.

zachary karabell

Rome, treaty of

views updated May 17 2018

Rome, treaty of. Signed by France, Belgium, Italy, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg on 25 March 1957, it established both the European Economic Community (EEC) and European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) from 1 January 1958. The EEC treaty set out objectives (such as eliminating mutual tariff barriers, establishing a common external tariff, and formulating a Common Agricultural Policy) to be achieved within twelve years and outlined the communities' institutions and rules. Britain stayed aloof, disliking the shared sovereignty implicit in the treaty's supranational institutions and expecting that the negotiations would fail.

Christopher N. Lanigan

Rome, Treaties of

views updated Jun 11 2018

Rome, Treaties of (1957) Two agreements establishing the European Economic Community, now the European Union (EU), and the European Atomic Energy Commission (Euratom). The 1957 Treaty was extensively amended by the Single European Act (1986) and the Maastricht Treaty (1992), but still forms the basis of the EU.

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