The following is a chronology of the EU:

1951: Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg form the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC).

1957: ECSC becomes the European Economic Community.

1962: EEC unveils its Common Agricultural Policy guaranteeing farmers a minimum income.

1968: EEC becomes a customs union.

1973: Denmark, Britain, Ireland join, expanding EEC to nine members.

1979: EEC launches European Monetary System to stabilize exchange rate fluctuations among national currencies.

1981: Greece becomes the 10th EEC member.

1986: Spain and Portugal make it 12.

1992: EEC becomes European Union, adding a common foreign and security policy to its activities and taking a first step to a single currency.

1993: EU becomes a single market for goods and services.

1995: Austria, Sweden, Finland raise EU membership to 15.

1998: EU opens membership talks with Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Estonia and Cyprus.

1999: Talks with Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Latvia and Lithuania open. Turkey is also named a candidate, but membership talks with Ankara do not immediately begin.

1999: EU launches the euro. National currencies remain in circulation until 2002 but are given a fixed exchange rate with the euro.