The European Communities (EC) comprised the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). These three organisations merged in 1967. Successive waves of enlargement from 1973 resulted in 12 member states by 1985. In signing the Single European Act in 1986, these countries expressed their intention to establish the European Union (EU).
The EU emerged from the idea of ensuring peace in Europe after the Second World War and preventing future military conflicts. This was to be achieved by concerted economic integration and intensified cooperation that would stimulate growth in a larger market. Belgium, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands signed the Treaty of Paris in 1951, establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC).