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Essay/Term paper: European union

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Political Science

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European Union


Europe made up more than 30 countries and even more distinct cultures;
it is now trying to adjust to new economic systems throughout the world. Today
with the trend toward big trading blocks like: N.A.F.T.A. or G.N.A.T.T. Europe
is trying to advance it's old Trading block called the European Economic
Community (EEC) to become the European Union. The current membership of 15
country's is ruled by one European Parliament. Under the E.U. each country will
be under one currency called the Euro dollar (which is to come into effect on
January 1st of 1999), one central banking system, and will be regulated with the
same set of laws. In effect the country's of the E.U. will eventually become
one. The way to a unified Europe is not a easy one; problems caused by
countries unwilling to give up their sovereignties, and by countries afraid of
the new Union continually slow it's progress.

Problems Facing the European Union Sovereignty or Unity?

This raises many conflicts with Europeans. For thousands of years
Europe has been torn time and again by wars which were largely fueled by ethnic
or religious differences. Today however Europeans are asked to put aside their
differences and become one. With nationalism still strong throughout Europe
many people are strongly against the E.U. Analysts strongly suggest, however,
that the E.U. is the only way Europe can improve it's economy. Unemployment in
most of Europe is running above 10 percent and countries like Germany and France
are suffering from net investment outflows, European economies are groaning
under the weight of rigid regulation, high labor costs, high taxes and generous
social services that have become too expensive to sustain. Meanwhile, labor
protests are on the rise, companies cut costs and governments try to slash
budget deficits.


The E.U. causes another major problem for Europe and the rest of the
world that is the expansion of the Union. Countries from the former Warsaw Pact
are eager to join the European Union but Russia is opposing that move because of
their xenophobic fears. This poses an new question for the world; Are the
satellite countries of the former Soviet Union truly sovereign states or are
they still puppet states controlled by Russia? The view today has to different
sides: the European, who are willing to accept Warsaw Pact states into NATO and
the E.U. given they meet the requirements; And the U.S. policy which is against
any expansion of NATO or the E.U. into the countries in question.

The European Union?

The European Union is the name of the organization for the countries
that have decided to co-operate on a great number of areas, ranging from a
single market economy, foreign policy's, same sets of environmental laws,
mutual recognition of school diplomas, to exchange of criminal records are among
the few (The E.U. is roughly similar in working to the United States of America.
The states being Countries and the U.S. the E.U.) The E.U. currently includes
15 countries and has 11 official languages, and many more internal ones. E.U.
has noted , however, that the current eleven official working languages will be
unworkable; an expansion to sixteen or more (with some former Eastern Bloc
countries joining) will be impossible. It is therefore expected, in my view,
that the number of working languages will be limited to three (English, French
and German) or five (with Italian and Spanish).

A little known fact about the European Union's flag is that it has only
12 stars. The stars are not meant to represent countries. Rather, the number of
twelve stars was chosen to be a symbol of completeness and of unity, as it
corresponded to the number of stars in the zodiac, the number of months in the
year and (for the purpose of winning over the mainly Christian European people)
to the number of Jesus's apostles.

E.U. members listed in order of membership:

1. Belgium
2. Germany
3. France
4. Italy
5. Luxembourg
6. Netherlands
7. Denmark
8. Republic of Ireland
9. United Kingdom
10. Greece
11. Portugal
12. Spain
13. Austria
14. Finland
15. Sweden

Official languages of the E.U.

· German (88.8 million Germany, Austria, Belgium, Italy and Luxembourg)
· French (63.3 million, in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Italy)
· English (60.0 million, in UK and Republic of Ireland)
· Italian (56.4 million, in Italy)
· Spanish (39.2 million, in Spain)
· Dutch (21.1 million, in the Netherlands and Belgium)
· Greek (10.3 million, in Greece)
· Portuguese (9.8 million, in Portugal)
· Swedish (9.0 million, in Sweden and Finland)
· Danish (5.2 million, in Denmark)
· Finnish (4.7 million, in Finland).

The E.U. Government Structure

The European Unions main institutions are the European Parliament, the
European Commission, the European Court of Justice, the Council of Ministers and
the Court of Auditors. The Council and the European Parliament are the main
decision-taking bodies of the E.U. The 626 members of the European Parliament
are elected by EU citizens every five years. The president and the other 19
Members of the European Commission, which has the sole right to initiate draft
legislation, are nominated their individual governments.

History, How and Why?

The creation of the European Union began after World War II (it was
first called the European Community). The founding members of the Community
first combined their big industries. They then set about creating a single
market in which goods, services, people and capital could move about as freely
as within a single country. The process was gradual spanning 40 years and
covering political and social as well as economic and trade aspects of nations.
As they completed the single market, which formally came into being in January,
1993. The Maastricht Treaty on the European Union took effect on 1 November
1993. It strengthened the Community further, by preparing the way for economic
and monetary union (EMU) and a single currency called the Euro. The Maastricht
also added common foreign and security polices and cooperation on justice and
police affairs. The term 'European Union' is actually used to describe the wider
Maastricht framework in which all these activities - old and new - take place.

The Current Status of the European Union and it's Plans for the Future

The implementation of the E.U. has and will create many benefits for
it's citizens. Individual citizens can live and work in the country of their
choice, travel freely within the Union since border controls have virtually
disappeared. More goods are available to people, for example French goods are
as accessible as Belgium goods in Spain; as before the union more French goods
might be available due to tariffs. The E.U. has also created a common European
citizenship in addition to a national citizenship.

Currently seven country's have lifted border controls they are France,
Germany, Spain, Portugal and the Benelux. The main impact of the decision is
the removal of passport checks on Union citizens passing through the airports of
these countries. Italy, Greece, Denmark and Austria look likely to be the next
to bring in the new freedoms,

Since currency fluctuations can block markets just as effectively as
taxes and tariffs the E.U. has moved to create a single monetary unit. For
example if the German Mark is suddenly devalued in comparison to the Frank goods
made in France will cost substantially more than those made in Germany. To
prevent this the Euro dollar was created it is to come into full circulation by
January 1, 1999. "In America, your economic development wouldn't have been quite
so good if you had had different currencies," said Ulrich Raam, chief economist
at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

European Union is also looking to bring the countries of Central and
Eastern Europe into membership. This is strongly supported by public opinion in
the existing states; more than 60 % for bringing Hungary, Poland and the Czech
Republic into the Union, and 55-58 % support for the memberships of Bulgaria,
Slovakia, Romania and Slovenia. So far, however, only Poland and Hungary have
formally applied for membership in the Union.

The Views Against the E.U.

The balance of power between the European Union and the Member States is
the main object of opposition against the Union. It is the center of intense
debate in most countries. This is especially true in Britain where many
publications have risen up against the E.U. about 20 % of are against the E.U.
Many people feel as the control of major issues should come closer to the people
not further away. They feel as choices on economic development, social,
programs, and crime laws should be left to the individual states. The only laws
that I did not see much opposition to are for environmental protection.

The second point of conflict against the E.U. is the Euro dollar. Many
people feel that by giving up their currency they are in fact giving up their
sovereignty. This point of conflict is just becoming apparent since the plans
for the Euro dollar have been postponed and seemed unreal by many people until
recently. For example Germany, determined to preserve the stability of its Mark,
demanded strong penalties for governments that negatively affect the value of
the currency.

Lastly Russia is afraid of the expansion of the E.U. into Eastern Block
countries. Russia currently feels like it is unwanted by the European community.
It is afraid that through the acceptance of the former Warsaw Pact countries it
will loose even more economic ground and one day might be greatly influenced by
the countries it once controlled.

In Conclusion

I feel that the E.U. is the way to go for Europe, but it needs to be
done carefully. Europe is a very diverse continent with many likes and dislikes
between it's inhabitants. This can be very easily illustrated by what happened
in Yugoslavia. The creation of the European Union would create a single
monetary unit one bank and in fact one government. In effect creation of a huge
nation, with economic power greater to the U.S. Other European should in my view
be allowed to join the Union, they are in fact independent states, and if they
apply and meet the requirements they must be accepted.


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