A History of European Integration and Spanish Autonomy

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European Wars

The story of Europe is not about great achievements of which we can be proud. European nations have fought terrible wars against each other. In the 20th century, two wars that started on this continent spread and involved countries all over the world.

Founding of the European Union

If you want to prevent war, you have to work together. The first step is to control jointly the things needed for war: steel for weapons and energy for factories.

European Coal and Steel Community

That is why six European countries (Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands) agreed to unite their steel and coal industries.

European Economic Community

The six countries got on so well that they decided to go a step further and set up the E.E.C. The main idea was to create a common market. That means getting rid of all national obstacles to free trade, such as border checks.

Not Just Economic

Over the years, more and more countries joined the E.E.C. They started working together in many areas, for example: to protect the environment and to build better roads and railways across Europe.

Autonomous Communities in Spain

According to the 1987 Constitution, regions with common historical, cultural, and economic characteristics may become autonomous communities. In 1979-1983, 17 autonomous communities were created, seven of which have only one province. In 1995, Ceuta and Melilla became autonomous cities.

Autonomous Government Institutions

  • A parliament, where laws are debated and passed.
  • The president represents the autonomous community and forms and leads the government.
  • The council implements and enforces the laws passed by parliament and those subject to shared competence with the state.

Municipalities and Municipal Administration

A municipality is the most basic administrative division of the Spanish territory. Spain has 8,122 municipalities.

Provinces and Provincial Administration

A province is an administrative division made up of municipalities. The provincial council governs the province.

European Union Expansion Timeline

  • 1957: France, Germany, Luxembourg, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium
  • 1975: United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland
  • 1981: Greece
  • 1986: Portugal, Spain
  • 1995: Austria, Sweden, Finland
  • 2004: Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Cyprus, Malta, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary
  • 2007: Bulgaria, Romania
  • 2013: Croatia


  • NGO (Non-Governmental Organization): A private, citizen-based entity that serves some humanitarian or social purpose.
  • Autonomous Community: A region of Spain given autonomy in the 1978 Constitution. They each have their own historical, cultural, and economic characteristics.
  • Constitution: A set of laws, beliefs, and principles that guide the way a country is governed.
  • Municipality: The most basic administrative division of Spanish territory.
  • Province: An administrative division made up of municipalities.
  • Decentralization: A process in which power is redistributed away from a central point.

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