Bretton Woods Conference
Meeting of Western allies to establish a postwar international economic order to avoid crises like the one that spawned World War II. Led to the creation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, designed to regulate currency levels and provide aid to needy countries.
European Coal and Steel Community
Post WW2 free trade area involving Germany, Belgium, France, Holland, Italy, and Luxembourg. The Schuman Plan in 1950 proposed the creation of a single controlling body to regulate the steel and coal production of France and Germany, and also to be opened to membership by other countries. It attempted to solve the lack of industry in these areas resulting in the war. The Schuman plan was put into effect as the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1952. In the ECSC, coal, steel, and iron ore could be traded within this union to rebuild their industry. It lasted from July 1952 to July 2002. It was lead by supranational governing commissions such as the Council of Ministers, the Common Assembly, the High Assembly, and a Court of Justice.
European Economic Community
Created by the Treaty of Rome, which also made the European Atomic energy Community (Euratom). Both were signed by the member nations of the ECSC. The European Economic Community (EEC) created a common market which meant no tariffs or hindrances in the movement of goods and people within the community. Tried to continue economic growth and protectionist policies of Pre-War Europe. It had similar government structure as the ECSC, including a Council of Ministers, a Common Assembly, a court to mediate disputes, and a commission to implement the policies of the community. The Brussels Treaty in 1965 merged the ECSC, EEC, and Euratom.
Maastricht Treaty (a.k.a Treaty on European Union) signed in 1992. It changed the EEC into the European Union. It set about to broaden the role of the supranational bodies. It was based around three pillars: more power to the European Parliament (formerly the Common Assembly), common foreign policy, and enhanced cooperation in domestic affairs and justice. They created the Euro, a currency for the whole union, in 1999 to streamline transactions within the member states. It also created European citizenship, and allowed free movement within countries between the EU's borders.
Purposes of the European Union
It started as loose economic alliances and trade agreements between a few European countries. It started with the ideas of supranational governing bodies that morphed into the overarching government that the EU is based on currently. Now is an economic union, a unified negotiating force, has its own currency and citizenship and is much more like a national government than originally intended.