The European Union is made up of 27 member states, mainly consisting of countries in Europe. It acts as an economic and political bond. The Treaty of Paris was finalised in 1951 by the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, France, Germany and Luxembourg. This was led by the setting up of the European Coal and Steel Community which is abbreviated to the ECSC, signed by Robert Schuman, Jean Monnet, Alcide De Gasperi and Paul-Henri Spaak. The treaty was agreed to with the goal to generate and ensure diplomatic and economic stability.
The ECSC then established a single market amongst them, known as the EEC which stands for European Economic Community. This was planned to become the trading entity to facilitate the customs union and it also led to all internal customs duties being abolished among the six countries. The EEC zone centered around the concept of several freedoms, Freedom of services, Freedom of capital, Freedom of people and finally Freedom of goods
The market was initiated once the treaty of Paris was signed. But, coinciding with this event a separate treaty was signed that led to the establishing of Euratom, the European Atomic Energy Community. The intended aim of this was to gather all the resources of its members that were non-military.
The various different governing bodies such as the ECSC, EEC and Euratom were all joined through the Merger Treaty of 1967 to form the European Communities. In 1993 Europe became divided into two the democratic governments holding one side the communists states holding another (the eastern bloc as itâ€™s sometimes called).
The countries were part of a defence agreement known as the Warsaw Pact. It was in response to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, a military alliance consisting of members from North America and Europe. It gave the Soviet Union power to intervene, if anything threatened their Communist ideology. But, in 2004, the countries involved had turned towards embracing democracy over their previous communist beliefs. When countries such as Poland and Hungary joined the NATO agreement, Bulgaria, Latvia, Romania and others followed suit in 2004. It was then that The European Union was complete.
The European Union itself does not decide on the actual laws for its member states but rather decides steers the overall political direction of its members there are three main institutions involved in EU legislation:
The European Parliament:
The European Parliament parliamentary institution of the European Union
It executes the legislative of the EU and it has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world.
The Parliament is currently made up of 754 Members of the European Parliament, who represent the second largest democratic electorate in the world (after the Parliament of India) but is it is the largest trans-national democratic electorate in the world
Although the European Parliament holds legal powers that the other institutions within the EU do not hold. It does not actually possess legislative initiative, Parliament is listed as the “first institution” of the EU (mentioned first in the treaties, giving it leading ceremonial precedence over all authority at European level making it arguably the “face” of EU), and shares equal legislative and budgetary powers with the Council (except in a few areas where the special legislative procedures apply). It also shares budget control with the council.
The Council of the European Union
The Council represent the governments of individual member countries Aside from passing laws with the European Parliament, the Council also reviews the annual budget, Elaborates and helps specify vague economic policies of its member states, Develops foreign and defence policies Co-ordinates cooperation between the courts and police forces Negotiates and develops economic polices
At each meeting of the Council, a representative from each country is provided to determine the aspects of which they represent the minister for agriculture would be sent from Ireland to a Council meeting regarding his field of work. This meeting would then be known as the â€˜Agriculture Councilâ€™.
This is one of the three primary institutions of the European Union it serves the day-to-day maintenance of the EU, upholding the Union’s treaties and its overall interests.
Is it is composed of 27 Commissioners who are appointed specific policy areas. An elected commission president is selected. And then 26 other commissioners in agreement are appointed before being subject to approval before a European council they are tasked with representing the EU as a whole rather than their member state.
They propose new laws to the Parliament, allocate the budget, enforce all EU laws and represent them internationally.
The Commission is used to speak on behalf of the EU amongst such bodies as the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The European Council is the group of heads of state or government of the EU member states. Meeting are held four times a year to pinpoint and specify the Union’s policy agenda and discuss further integration and expansion of states it has been described as the highest political body of the European Union.
Court of Justice of the European Union
The Court of Justice of the European Union acts as the EU’s judicial arm. It is responsible for interpreting EU law and treaties. It comprises the main chamber: Court of Justice, the General Court and the Civil Service Tribunal.
The Central Bank
The European Central Bank is the central bank for the euro zone and thus governs monetary policy it is also entrusted to maintain monetary stability so that euro does not fluctuate to wildly. It is at the centre of the European System of Central Banks which comprises all EU national banks. It is controlled by a board of national bank governors and an elected President.
Court of Auditors
The European Court of Auditors is tasked with ensuring the taxpayer funds from the budget of the European Union is spent accurately and fairly. They must ensure spending is justified meaning money is not squandered or improperly used that it is spent on what was agreed and a fair at a fair amount or price. They provide a report for each financial year to the European Council and Parliament bodies. The Parliament then decides if they will approve the Commission’s handling of the budget. The Court also gives opinions and proposals on financial legislation and anti-fraud actions.
the EU began with a somewhat modest six member states Germany(west at the time) Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands sometimes known as the “inner six these countries where first to adopt the idea of European trans-national community while sceptics looked on then 1973 Denmark, UK and Ireland were added Norway had also applied but later declined in 1981 Greece was added followed by Portugal and Spain in 1986 then followed by Austria, Finland, Sweden in 1995 Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia in 2004 and most recently Bulgaria and Romania in 2007 swiftly following suit.
To join the EU a country must comply with the Copenhagen criteria, defined at the 1993 Copenhagen European Council. This requires a stable democracy that tolerates human rights and accommodates a functioning market economy capable of competition within the EU and of course the agrees to its reasonability of membership, Evaluation of a country’s fulfilment of the criteria is the responsibility of the European Council
Previously morocco attempted to join the EU but was the declined on the basis that is was not considered a European country.
Currently the country of Croatia is acceding membership while Albania is listed as a waiting applicant with Iceland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey all being listed as viable applicants and Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo as potential applicants.
In my opinion as an outsider the creation the EU has brought about a greater quality of life for the continent of Europe allowing it to secure itself as one of the world leading super powers it is unique in its transnational nature and provides reassurance and equality to all its member states allowing for the strengths and cultures of its various members to be pooled. However it is not without is potential downsides with questioning of the arguably non sensical application of morocco Britainâ€™s membership being a mere Trojan horse for American occupation and initial criticism of the founding 6 states the question can be raised of the EU can it be abused? Can it be seen as a popularity contest with unfair judgements being made on the basis of length of membership or size of economy as well as more specialised issues such as members who may have previously been in conflict with each other whether that conflict be based on economy living ideals ect given that countries are still competing with the EU at a global scale this can be flipped so it must also be raised are certain members holding the EU back? With concept of its strength being based on incretion of members it must also be asked are all member states pulling their weight or are they simply tagging along with the super power? However in the interest of equality global positioning and EU main advantage (its potential exponential growth in comparison to America or china) all applicants are considered through the copenhagen criteria. Other potential issues are its lack of single acting military force of its own instead relying on its members own military this seems as though it could potentially lead to narrow or somewhat “selfish” agendas from various states. Another Strength of the euro is the euro currency which has allowed on a base level a simplified more efficient approach to international bartering both on personal and global economic level.
States such as the United Kingdom are pushing the idea that those countries outside the single currency should always be able to block decisions that could affect all EU member states, not wanting to be involved in Eurozone itself but wanting to remain part of the union. These kinds of stipulations regarding specific countries could also potentially lead to conflict. However are may be necessary for many specific reasons that country may feel serve it best. this leads me to the thought that a world stage board such as the EU may not despite all its knowledge be able to fully understand and appreciate some of the finer more specific points of an individualâ€™s countries legislative nor would these finer matters be its priority leading to the potential the many issues may go unsolved at the world stage or within a member state.
in terms of its policy on migration which allows for all EU citizens to move more freely between member states the initial idea seems to go hand in hand with that of the euro accommodating those who wish to immigrate travel for leisure and helps stimulate trading however this has been criticized for causing a taxing amount of refugees and asylum seekers for other countries sometimes leading to the abusing of certain benefit policies of to escape justice it has also been pointed out to sometimes cause a brain drain whereby a large number of a countries skilled or specialist workers leave there respected countries the issue of countries within the EU maintaining their national and cultural identity has also been raised with many fearing it will cause a homogenized culture killing effect.
In my opinion, it seems apparent that the pros of a united Europe outweigh the downsides which are mostly based on theory and conjecture anyway it has become an increasingly appealing almost necessary step for any European country to conform to joining in the EU I would argue it is a highly successful concept that has quite possibly the greatest potential any of the worldâ€™s leading powers has ever had.