Political map of Europe & the Mediterranean 01 November 1993 (European Union): While the former Eastern Bloc was collapsing (Dissolution of the Soviet Union), the nations of Western Europe were forging closer ties. Back in 1958, Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands had established the European Economic Community (EEC) to bring about economic integration. By the early 1990s, with this integration largely achieved, the member states of the EEC, now 12 in number, felt ready to move to the next stage. In 1993, the European Union was established, with a new shared currency (to be called the euro) to be introduced by the end of the decade.