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This term has a rather convoluted set of meanings. Strictly speaking, it is the name that the Treaty on European Union 1992 (the 'Maastricht Treaty') introduces to replace the term 'European Economic Community (or 'EEC'). This change was intended to reflect the fact that the supranational competence of the EEC was to be extended to matters other than purely economic ones. However, 'European Community' is also used as a contracted form of the formal European Communities, which comprise the EEC, the ECSC, and Euratom. In practice, the ECSC has now expired, and Euratom was only of limited importance by the time the EU was created. Thus the distinction between the 'European Community', the 'European Communities', and the 'European Economic Community' may be largely moot.

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