La fondation de l’Union européenne

Par le 25 octobre 2018

À l’issue du conflit mondial le plus meurtrier de l’Histoire, la Seconde Guerre Mondiale, le continent européen est intégralement détruit. Les morts et blessés sont nombreux et les paysages détruits. Une volonté générale d’union apparaît alors, avec le but principal d’établir une zone de paix et de stabilité.
Si depuis la fin du XVIIIème siècle cette idée germait dans les esprits européens, ce n’est qu’en 1945 que l’Union Européenne voit réellement le jour.

Une telle construction représente un enjeu important. Et pour cause, il consiste d’abord en le rapprochement de deux nations historiquement ennemies, la France et l’Allemagne. Ce rapprochement doit par la suite permettre de construire autour d’elles une solide union des pays libres d’Europe.

Le rapprochement des États européens

La fédération se concrétise par étapes successives.

La première prend la forme du Conseil de la Haye en 1948. Cette réunion a trois objectifs : témoigner de l’existence d’une volonté d’union dans les 20 pays principaux d’Europe (dont la France et le Royaume-Uni), proposer des solutions aux gouvernements et faire gagner en importance le mouvement.
La même année, le traité de Bruxelles entre en vigueur. Il constitue une alliance de défense militaire automatique en cas d’agression, et concernait la France, le Royaume-Uni, la Belgique, les Pays-Bas et le Luxembourg.

En 1952, certains pays d’Europe s’engagent dans une coopération commerciale dans le cadre de la Communauté Européenne du Charbon et de l’Acier (CECA). Celle-ci est en réalité un moyen déguisé de retirer à ces nations tous moyens de se faire la guerre, car les objets mis en jeu sont les matières premières pour la réalisation d’armes.

En 1957, l’Europe prend une forme qui nous est plus familière, avec les traités de Rome et Euratom. Ils instaurent respectivement la Communauté Européenne Economique (CEE) et la Communauté Européenne de l’Energie Atomique (CEEA). Leurs objectifs étaient de réparer les dommages créés sur les économies et pôles de recherche européens par la guerre.
Par ailleurs, l’Assemblée Commune, née en 1952 avec la CECA, est renommée Parlement européen en 1962, mais ne dispose encore que du pouvoir de consultation : son seul travail est de donner un avis sur les décisions prises dans les différentes instances.

La création de l’Union européenne

Cependant, l’Europe institutionnelle telle que nous la connaissons aujourd’hui n’apparaît qu’en 1992. Elle repose sur trois piliers, les traités de Maastricht, d’Amsterdam et de Nice.

Le traité de Maastricht, signé en 1992, est fondateur de l’Union Européenne. Il instaure la politique étrangère et de sécurité commune aux États membres mais aussi la citoyenneté européenne, un Parlement européen aux pouvoirs renforcés. Il permet alors la modification des traités signés depuis la Seconde Guerre Mondiale, désormais au service d’une véritable construction européenne.

Signature du traité de Maastricht par la France (représentée par Roland Dumas et Pierre Bérégovoy) 

Le traité d’Amsterdam, signé en 1997, a pour objectif principal d’établir un espace de liberté, de sécurité et de justice. Il vient compléter et modifier le traité de Maastricht, notamment en renforçant à nouveau les capacités du Parlement Européen. L’Europe représente dès lors un important pouvoir supranational, gérant des questions qui étaient auparavant propres aux Etats (immigration, sécurité, environnement…). Il marque aussi la naissance de la notion de développement durable, avec la prise de conscience des Etats de la nécessité de préserver l’environnement pour les générations futures.

Le traité de Nice, signé en 2001, permet de maintenir l’efficacité des institutions européennes. En effet, suite à l’importante augmentation du nombre d’Etats membres (28 en 2007), le Conseil européen est menacé de paralysie face à l’incapacité des Etats à se mettre d’accord. Cette volonté se manifeste également par le passage de 700 à 732 députés au Parlement européen. L’une des mesures est d’y réduire le seuil de majorité qualifiée à 72,2%.

L’Union européenne aujourd’hui

De nos jours, la structure de l’Union reste similaire. En bref : le Parlement européen élu au suffrage universel direct (par tous les citoyens européens de plus de 18 ans) dispose de capacités législatives, budgétaires et de surveillance ; le Conseil européen définit les grandes orientations et priorités politiques de l’Union ; la Commission européenne propose les lois au Parlement et au Conseil de l’Union Européenne; la Cour de Justice européenne ; ou encore la Banque centrale européenne menant la politique économique de l’Union…

Pays membres de l’Union européenne

Mais l’Europe institutionnelle doit de plus en plus faire face au mécontentement ou au manque d’intérêt des citoyens européens. Nommé « euroscepticisme », ce mouvement apparaît en effet dès les années 1970, suite aux chocs pétroliers ayant ébranlé les économies du monde entier. Il est dû au manque d’efficacité apparent des instituions, mais également de leur complexité souvent décourageante pour les citoyens. Ce phénomène s’est traduit par les volontés de départ de l’Union, largement illustrées par le Brexit (les britanniques ont voté à plus de 72% pour la sortie du Royaume-Uni en 2016).

De plus, la forte immigration vers les pays européens depuis 2014 renforce la crise politique et sociale qui ébranlait déjà l’Europe et affaiblit encore son pouvoir.

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