Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 8

Page |1

Page |2

THE EUROPEAN UNION

CASE STUDY

POLITICS IN THE INDUSTRIALZED WORLD

WALTER CARLOS HIRSCH

WEBSTER UNIVERSITY

The European Union was founded with the aim of bringing an end to all the bloody wars

between European neighbors, which found its climax in the Second World War. The foundation

of the European Union was set on May 9, 1950 with a speech of the then French Prime Minister

Robert Schuman to the public. He emphasized the importance of European countries to live in

peace and to not let anything happen like the Second World War again. He presented the idea that

Germany and France should merge their coal and steel production which would be led by a

common agency. From 1951 to 1957 more countries joined the Union including Belgium, Italy,

Luxembourg and the Kingdom of Holland. Beside of the European Union the countries Belgium,

Netherlands, and Luxembourg established an even more close relationship with the Benelux

treaty in 1958. Even today the trade agreement of the Benelux countries is considered to be a

good example of how a relationship between countries should be. Over the course of history the

European Union faced many problems, which led some to believe the Union would crumble.
Page |3

As already mentioned, World War II was a catastrophic event, and with the availability of

nuclear weapons European countries knew that something must happen to prevent any further

outbreaks. Due to the Second World War, European countries such as England, France, and

Germany lost their prestige power status in the world. Another result of the Second World War

was the loss of English and French colonies. Almost all European countries were exhausted and

devastated after the war and they realized that they could not support their colonies anymore

without hurting their own economy. British India was the first colony that had to be given up,

followed by some countries in the Middle East and Africa. Some colonies in the Caribbean and

Pacific were still kept by England, but later gained independence, as Britain could not support

them anymore. The latest colony lost by England was Hong Kong in the year 1997. While

England more or less agreed on their colonies self-independence, France tried to piece

together their colonies after the war. France fought two bloody wars in Vietnam and Algeria,

because people were rioting for their right of self independence. The war in Algeria was so

exhausting for France that it almost felt apart.

From its creation in 1950 until today a lot has happened in the European Union. In the

year 1973 more and more countries joined the Union, including Denmark, Greenland (left in

1985), Ireland and the United Kingdom. A few years later, in 1979, the first European Parliament

election was held. The popularity of the Union grew and countries finally realized that more can

be accomplished if you work together. Especially during this time, when Globalization was on
Page |4

the rise, European countries recognized that in order to have a voice in the world they had to

work together. It makes sense that a Union with 27 countries, a population of 500 million, and a

yearly GDP of $16.5 trillion makes a bigger difference in the world than a single country by

itself. Greece joined in 1981, and Spain and Portugal joined a few years later in 1986.

Many policies have been introduced since the EU foundation, of which many are very

essential for Europe. For example, the Schengen Agreement was introduced in 1985 which

allows open European borders without any passport controls. This has been a big relief to most

European citizens, not only because now it was easier to make vacation in other countries, but

also economical wise. Germany, for example, borders nine different countries Denmark,

Poland, Czech, Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and Holland. Imagine all

the efforts a country has to make to trade with its neighbor state (passport control,

customs, duty, different laws, currency etc.) The Schengen Agreement was so to speak the

foundation of the Europe we know today. Beside of that, it was also a big symbolic factor e.g.

we are growing together. In 1986, the European Flag was introduced, but more important the

Single European Act was signed. The Act set the aim to create one European single market by

the end of 1992. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Iron curtain in the year 1990 the

European Union now had the option to enlarge further east. The first communist country that

joined after the Soviet Union collapsed was East Germany.


Page |5

After the cold war everything went fairly quick for the Union. More and more eastern

countries joined the Union, like Austria, Sweden and Finland in 1995. Probably the biggest

accomplishment of the European Union was the introduction of a common currency. In 2002,

euro notes and coins replaced national currencies and once again brought Europe closer together.

Now with the abolishment of borders, customs, and a common currency many obstacles that

existed before have been removed. In 2004, the European Union experienced its biggest

enlargement so far with countries like Cyprus, Slovenia, Malta, Estonia, Latvia, Poland,

Lithuania, Slovakia, and Hungary joining.

Although the European Union is considered to be a big benefit to Europe, there are also

some problems that come along with it. There are some countries that do better economically

than others. As we know the basic idea of the European Union is that countries help each other

out hence the term Union. For some countries it is a big challenge to satisfy the good

of the Union, and at the same time satisfy the needs of their own country. Acting on a pure

national level is disliked by most member states, and instead they should do what benefits most

countries in the Union although it is probably less beneficial for them. From time to time

arguments break out between member states that think they were treated badly.

For example, many European countries found themselves struggling during the last financial

crisis. There are many countries like Zyprus, Greece, and Spain that did not do a good job
Page |6

managing their budget in the past. Now, some of these countries are bankrupt and find

themselves in a position where they are unable to support their own economy. Since all these

countries are part of the European Union they have the right to ask for help. Countries like

England, Germany, and France designed several billion rescue-packages to bring these countries

back on their feet. Furthermore, jealousy sometimes plays a big role in the Union too. For the last

couple of decades Germany was pretty successful in exporting their products throughout the

world, to the dislike of other European neighbors. One example was the last French president,

Nicolas Sarkozy, who complained about Germanys high export sells and the trouble other

European countries had to go through because of it. He asked the German government if they

would mind to lower their exports so other European countries would have the chance to export

more themselves. The German government politely declined with the reasoning that they are

sorry that other European products are not as much in demand as theirs.

In conclusion I want to say that the European Union is essential for Europe and even

though there are flaws and setbacks we need to support it. The media often portrays struggling

countries (e.g. Greece, Spain) as unthankful and quiet often their citizens are shown burning

German/French flags or depicting Angela Merkel as Adolf Hitler. People have to bear in mind

that these people are only a small portion of the whole population. The German/French media

likes to take these pictures in an effort of turning people against the Union. However, I have

talked to Spaniards, Greeks face-to-face and they admit that their governments messed up in

some sectors, but I barely experienced dislike or even hatred towards my country or me. The last

thing the European Union needs is hatred between its citizens. Who knows, maybe one day,

Greece will support Germany.


Page |7

SOURCES

http://geography.about.com/od/geographyintern/a/euoverview.htm

http://www.hum.leiden.edu/history/eu-history

http://www.aueb.gr/statistical-institute/european-citizens/history_en.pdf

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/focuson/crisis/

http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/justice_freedom_security/free_movement_of_per

sons_asylum_immigration/l33020_en.htm

http://europa.eu/about-eu/basic-information/symbols/europe-day/schuman-declaration/
Page |8