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The Historical Archives of the Council of Ministers of the European Communities

by Familia Ulster Genealogical Review: No. 06, 1990


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by Patrick J. Radcliffe

"The realisation dawned in the late nineteen seventies that the 'paper mountains' scattered among the registries and offices of the European Economic Community could be of value for historical as well as administrative research. The EEC Commission decided to identify and develop its historical archives in 1977.

Discussions began in the Council of Ministers in 1979 concerning the possible opening of records to the public. Meetings were arranged with other Community institutions and with archivists from national record offices to discuss procedures.

The process culminated in the adoption of a Council Regulation of 1 February, 19832 and of a Commission Decision of 8 February, 1983, which together laid down the guidelines for the creation and exploitation of the Community's historical archives.

A thirty year access rule was established which permitted the opening of the early records of the European Coal and Steel Community to researchers."

This article looks at the current holdings of the historical archives of the Council of Ministers, and how they constitute a fruitful source for the study of the first steps in European integration.