During the first decade of its existence the Community negotiated two very important hurdles towards its economic integration: the achievement of customs union, in July 1968, involving the abolition of customs duties and quantitative restrictions between Member States, the establishment of a common customs tariff and the definition of a common agricultural policy necessary for the free movement of agricultural goods between Member States [see chapter 5 and section 21.1]. These vital achievements were decided upon by the six original Member States in a favourable economic climate and a stable monetary environment guaranteed by the Bretton Woods system.
In August 1971, however, the United States had decided to dismantle the international monetary system, based on the Bretton Woods agreements, which had ensured, until then, the monetary stability indispensable to the functioning of the European common market. Unrestrained, the international speculation had, then, thwarted the first attempt to create an economic and monetary union in Europe [see section 7.2.1]. Moreover, the oil crises of 1973 and 1979 had shaken the European economies [see section 19.1.1]. Thus, Europe in the early 1980s had sunk into "Euro-slump" and "Euro-pessimism". Many advocates of intergovernmental free trade arrangements thought at the time that the experiment of European integration was going to fail. They were underestimating the strength of the Community method and the links that it had already created among the Member States.
In January 1985, the President of the Commission, Jacques Delors, forcefully declared that in order to achieve the main objective of the EEC Treaty, the creation of a single market, all internal European borders should be eliminated by the end of 1992. Therefore, in June 1985 the Commission forwarded to the European Council a "white paper" on completing the internal market [COM/85/0310]. The Milan European Council (28-June 1985) welcomed the programme established in the white paper and decided, by a majority of its members, to call an intergovernmental conference with the brief of drawing up a draft Treaty covering, on the one hand, political cooperation and, on the other, the amendments to the EEC Treaty required for the completion of the internal market. The Commission's proposals for a "single framework" for the amendment of the EEC Treaty and for political cooperation were finalised in the form of a "Single European Act" by the Ministers for Foreign Affairs meeting in Intergovernmental Conference on 27 January 1986 [see section 2.1]. By making significant changes to the Community decision-making process (qualified majority voting in the Council acting in cooperation with the European Parliament), the Single Act not only succeeded in removing the technical barriers to trade, thus creating the Single Market, but has had important spillover effects [see section 1.1.1] on many common policies, such as transport, taxation and environment protection.