InformationThe Single European Act (SEA) was the first major revision of the 1957 Treaty or Rome.The Act set the European Community an objectiveof establishing a Single market by 31 December1992, and codified European PoliticalCooperation, the forerunner of the EuropeanUnions Common Foreign and Security Policy.It was signed at Luxembourg on 17 February 1986, andat The Hague on 28 February 1986. It came intoeffect on 1 July 1987, under the Delors Commission.
The SEAs signing grew from the discontent among European Community members in the 1980s about the de facto lack of free trade among them. Leaders from business and politics wanted to harmonise laws among countries and resolve policy discrepancies. The Treaty was drafted with the aim of implementing parts of the Dooge report on institutional reform of the Community and the European Commissions white paper on reforming the Common Market. The resultant treaty aimed to create a "Single Market" in the Community by 1992, and as a means of achieving this adopted a more collaborative legislative process, later known as thecooperation
Under the procedure the Council could, with the supportof Parliament and acting on a proposal by theCommission, adopt a legislative proposal by a qualifiedmajority, but the Council could also overrule arejection of a proposed law by the Parliament byadopting a proposal unanimousl y.The SEA was signed on the basis of a political agreementreached at the European Council held in Luxembourg on 3December 1985.
Overvie wA core element of the SEA was to create a SingleMarket within the European Community by 1992, a date bywhich, it was hoped, the legislative reforms seennecessary would have been completed.In order to make this objective possible theSEA reformed the legislative process byintroducing the Cooperation procedure andby extending Qualified Majority Voting tonew areas. Measures were taken to shortenthe legislative process. The SEA intended toremove barriers and to increaseharmonisation and competitiveness amongits countries.
Signing and ratificationThe signing and ratification of the SingleEuropean Act were not without incident. Twomember states, Denmark and Ireland, submittedthe treaty to a popular vote.The Danish parliament rejected the SingleAct in January 1986 after an oppositionmotion calling for the then unsigneddocument to be renegotiated was passed by80 votes to 75.The Danish government, who supported thetreaty, decided to hold a national, non-binding referendum on the issue in order toovercome the treatys rejection by theDanish parliament.This referendum was duly held on 27February 1986 and approved by the Danishpeople by 56.2% voting in favour to 43.8%against on a turnout of 75.4%. Denmark signed the Single Act the
Whilst the Danish opposition opposedthe treaty because they said it wouldincrease the powers of the EuropeanParliament, the Italian governmentdelayed in signing for the oppositeconcern: that, in their opinion, it wouldnot give the European Parliamentenough power.The other nine memberstates signed the SingleAct eleven days earlierin Luxembourg;the earlierdate having been originallyintended as display of unitywithin the Communityregarding the SEA.