The Rome Treaties of 25th March 1957 were a turning point in the process of European integration, giving birth to the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).
This exhibition is the result of a collaboration between the Archives of the Council of the European Union, the Historical Archives of the European Union, the European Parliament and the European Commission, with contributions from the European Investment Bank, the Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ANSA.
The aim of the exhibition is to present not only the historical aspects of the Treaties, but also their long-lasting implications for the European Union of today.
The title of the exhibition, 'Ever Closer Union', comes from the preamble of the Rome Treaty establishing the European Economic Community, the founding document of the European integration process, in which it is stated that the representatives of the six member countries of the European Coal and Steel Community
"determined to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe, resolved to ensure the economic and social progress of their countries by common action to eliminate the barriers which divide Europe, affirming as the essential objective of their efforts the constant improvement of the living and working conditions of their peoples, […] anxious to strengthen the unity of their economies and to ensure their harmonious development by reducing the differences existing between the various regions and the backwardness of the less favoured regions,[…] intending to confirm the solidarity which binds Europe and the overseas countries and desiring to ensure the development of their prosperity, in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, resolved by thus pooling their resources to preserve and strengthen peace and liberty, and calling upon the other peoples of Europe who share their ideal to join in their efforts, have decided to create a European Economic Community"
The core values of the European Union (peace, democracy, culture, security, prosperity and the rights to live, study, work and move freely in Europe), which originate from the EEC Treaty and its successive amendments, the Treaties of Maastricht and Lisbon, and which were recently reaffirmed in the Bratislava Declaration of December 2016, constitute the main themes around which this exhibition is structured.
The cultural and historical aspects of the European integration process are examined in the first section of the exhibition, which offers an overview ranging from the Treaties of Rome establishing the EEC and Euratom in 1957 to the contemporary European Union.
The integration process was founded on the legal and economic principles set out in the Treaties of Rome, which acted as an unifying force in Europe. From the single market and economic and monetary integration, to the creation of the Court of Justice and its role in shaping the EEC/EU internal market: these were the pillars of European prosperity and rule of law, which are examined in the second part of the exhibition.
The third section of the exhibition presents the key legacy of the Treaties in terms of social policy at Community level, and how this shaped the course of the European integration project in the following decades, particularly in terms of labour, employment, education and social inclusion. Likewise, this section outlines the efforts to foster European identity and citizenship, through education and related programmes and actions like the Erasmus scheme, and through democratic participation at EU level.
Europe is not only a promoter of peace and stability within its own borders – it also plays a global role in this sense. The fourth section of the exhibition analyses the international dimension of Europe, addressing both the enlargement process from a tight-knit community of six to its present-day magnitude, and its foreign relations beyond the continent in its capacity as a commercial actor and a promoter of development policies (which were already envisaged in the Treaties of Rome).
The final part of the exhibition is dedicated to the contemporary challenges being faced by the European Union. These include the preservation of the environment, the migration crisis, the question of internal cohesion between member states and the role of the European Union on the international arena in the future.
The exhibition takes its inspiration from an episode in political history and aims to explain the origins of the core values on which the integration process was developed, framing it with multiple perspectives and evaluating its implications. It highlights the roots of the Treaties in the social, cultural and economic phenomena that affected Europe after the Second World War, and traces the long-term impact of the European integration process that was triggered by those phenomena on aspects of European citizens' everyday lives.