The Maastricht Treaty is the most recent of a series of steps that have been taken to create a Union among European states and thus to strengthen their economies and their security. Security was the prime motive for the first step: the integration of heavy industries under the institutions established by the European Coal and Steel Community in order to ensure that France, Germany and their neighbours would never go to war with each other again. The desire to strengthen the European economy was more prominent among the motives for the second great step: the foundation of the European Economic Community, which created the common market, provided the collective power to negotiate on trade as an equal with the USA and consolidated the peaceful relations among the member states. The ensuing prosperity and security confirmed that the Community was a valid framework for dealing with the growing interdependence among them. Further steps were accordingly taken, including the direct elections, the European Monetary System, successive enlargements and the Single European Act. Thus the Community acquired a wide range of powers in the fields of the economy and environment in particular, exercised by institutions based on the rule of law, embodied in the Court of Justice, and with elements of government and democratic control through the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament. This system of institutions, with such significant responsibilities for their common affairs, contributed both to enhance the well-being of the peoples of these states and to banish the fear of war between them.