The European Union, 1985–1995: the Relance: from the Single European Act to the Maastricht Treaty and European Union

  • David Armstrong
  • Lorna Lloyd
  • John Redmond
Part of the The Making of the 20th Century book series


There was a remarkable transformation in the European Community in the mid-1980s. It is not clear exactly why this rediscovery of the ideas and objectives of the architects of the Treaty of Rome took place; this ‘relance’ had the air of an addict at his nadir, deciding that he had had enough, renouncing his vice and returning to the straight and narrow by sheer strength of will. Perhaps the answer lies in a combination of political and economic factors:1
  • On the political side there was unease about the attitudes and policies of the Americans. Initially, in the 1980s, this stemmed from Reagan’s rather aggressive style of diplomacy which led to fears of an arms race and renewed cold war between the two superpowers. When the Soviet Union collapsed at the end of the decade, European integration was further fuelled, somewhat ironically, by the fears of US troop withdrawals.

  • More importantly, on the economic side, the deep recession of the early 1980s, the comparative economic decline of Europe, its failure to create jobs at the rate the US seemed able to do, renewed fears about technological backwardness and dependency in Europe, all combined to concentrate European (Community) minds. European industry began to adopt an increasingly European perception and strategy2 and began to see the fragmentation of the European economy as a major problem. There was also a growing consensus in favour of supply-side policies, economic deregulation and budgetary discipline. The combination of all these factors created an irresistible pressure for change and led to two major steps forward in the field of industrial policy: the establishment of the first Framework Programme for EC research and development policies and the single market programme (SMP); the latter was to be seized upon, by proponents of European integration in general, as a flagship for their cause and was, therefore, to develop into much more than a mere component of industrial policy.


EUROPEAN Union European Central Bank Monetary Union Single Market Maastricht Treaty 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
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    In fact the widely held view that this is the latest date by which EMU must begin is not technically correct. The 1 January 1999 start date becomes applicable only if the Council fails to set a start date for EMU by the end of 1997 (Treaty of European Union, Title II, Article 109j, paragraph 4). There is nothing to stop the Council from deciding in 1997 to set a date later than the beginning of 1999. Indeed, given the performance of the ERM since 1992 this may begin to look like a desirable option.Google Scholar
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    For a detailed examination of the Swiss case see R. Schwok, Switzerland and the European Common Market (New York, 1991).Google Scholar
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    For a detailed survey see J. Redmond, The Next Mediterranean Enlargement of the European Community: Turkey, Cyprus and Malta? (Aldershot, 1993).Google Scholar
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    This summary is taken from the Federal Trust, The State of the Union: The Intergovernmental Conference of the European Union 1996 (London: Federal Trust, Paper no. 1, 1995), p. 2, which is the first of a series of papers to be produced on the IGC by the Federal Trust (albeit from a federal perspective).Google Scholar
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  46. 46.
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    Speech given by Mrs Thatcher at the College of Europe, Bruges, 20 September 1988.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© David Armstrong, Lorna Lloyd and John Redmond 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Armstrong
  • Lorna Lloyd
  • John Redmond

There are no affiliations available

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