The European Economic Community (EEC), also known as the European Community, the Common Market, and the Community, originated through the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Treaty. The inaugural agreement was signed in Paris on April 18, 1951, and became effective on July 25, 1952. The original members included Germany, France, Italy, and the Benelux countries of Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. The primary task of the ECSC Treaty was to create a common market for coal and steel by prohibiting all duties on imports and exports and all quantitative and private restraints on competition. This Treaty is considered the first step towards a united Europe. Its decisive innovation was to entitle the Community's institutions established by the Treaty to directly bind member states and enterprises by means of its decisions.