In this part we review, in an introductory chapter, the various theories that have endeavoured to explain the phenomenon of European integration. We ascertain that all these theories have shed some light on various aspects of the integration process, but they have all missed the fundamental aspect of this process: the development and management of common policies. We, therefore, propose a theoretical synthesis based on the common policies of the European Union, which are, indeed, the main subject of this book. The theoretical propositions advanced in section 1.1.2 are empirically verified in the rest of the book. In the second section of the introductory chapter we briefly recall how, after the Second World War, an ever-increasing number of European States have decided to set aside their differences and engage themselves in the process of European integration. We then examine the perspectives of European integration focusing, in particular, on the dilemma between its widening through successive enlargements and its deepening through a substantial reform of its institutions.
The main objective of the second chapter is to emphasise the role of the European treaties and their reforms in setting new common policies and ever-higher objectives for pre-existing ones. It shows how the success of the common policies based on the Treaty on the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), signed in Paris in April 1951, led to the signing in March 1957, in Rome, of the Treaties on the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or Euratom) and of the most important European Economic Community (EEC), extending integration in all economic sectors. We will note that in order to attain their expanding goals, the Member States decided, in Maastricht in 1992, to supplement the amended Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) as well as the Treaties on the ECSC and EAEC with the new Treaty on the European Union (TEU), which set the objective of political integration. We will see that five years later, the Treaty of Maastricht was replaced by the Treaty of Amsterdam, in order to accommodate the objectives of the new policies on home and judicial affairs and on foreign affairs. We will finally note that the transitional Treaty of Nice allowed the accession of twelve more Member States, but that the Treaty of Lisbon, signed by the leaders of the 27 nations on 13 December 2007 and put in force on 1 December 2009, was designed to reform the former treaties on the European Union and on the European Community in order to help Europe advance in the path of its integration.
In chapter three a metaphorical image is used to explain how the European Union covers under its roof the main edifice of the European construction, which is the European Community, and the new wings of the common foreign and security policy and of justice and home affairs. The original decision-making process of the European Union is clarified, a process that leads to the formation of an equally original legal system, based on the treaties and taking the form of regulations, directives and decisions. A particular attention is paid to the unique financing system of the European Union based on its own resources inscribed in the Union budget, managed by the Commission.
The final chapter of this part examines the structure and the functions of the main European institutions, in the order that they appear in the decision-making process: the European Council, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers and the Court of Justice. This chapter deals also with other important institutions, the European Central Bank and the Court of Auditors, and with the consultative bodies of the EC/EU, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. The interaction of these institutions and organs, examined in the section on the European decision-making process [see section 4.3], is essential for the development of the common policies that are analysed in this book.