A divided union
Europe was a powerfull continent, wich ended with the second world war. Then Europe was in ruins, but even so, it was the beginning of a new golden age.
Jean Monnet an Robert Schuman were convinced that the war started because Europe was not united. Therefore they founded the Europian Union (EU). They wanted to build an union that would banish conflicts for good.
In 1951 it started with agreements between six countries, moving on tho the creation of a common market in 1957.
In 1957 the six members were Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, now the EU has 25 members.
On january the 1st in 2002, 12 Europian countries adopt a new single currency, the Euro. In june 2004, the 25 EU governments agreed on the Union's first ever written constitution. At the moment the European project looks troubled. Economically the EU is falling further behind the United States, politically the memebers are arguing about Iraq, the management of the Euro and the constitution.
The EU's new constitution represents an effort to keep and deepen European unity. It must be aproved by all 25 countries, otherwise it will not come clear what way the new constitution will lead.
Piece in our time
Verdun is the most bluddy battlefield in Europe. Because of the fact that in 1916 almost 800.000 people were killed or wounded. Also Louis Delors was wounded badly. His son Mr. Delor now founded the Montaire union of French, Germany and other European countries.
Mr kohl, one of the two employees of mr Delor, argued that the introduction of the Euro was a question of war and peace. When the writing of the European constitution was delayed, Elmar Brok (member of the EU) warned that if Europe could not succeed in an agreement of making a European constitution, Europe would risk an outbreak like the 1st world war.
Timothy Carton Ash (observer of the European affairs) says in a recent book that the EU is needed to pretent falling back to the bad old ways of war and the European barbarism. Mister Carton Ash beleives that we could never prove that a continent-wide collection of independend mighty European democracies could exist in the same peacefull way, without the existance of the EU. The ones who beleive in the peaceeffects of the will for an European unity, aknowledge the contribution to peace in the post-war Europe. But they believe that the EU played a big role, by forcing European leaders to cooperate.
Countries that aply to join the EU first have to meet some democratic criteria and then they have to put aside the old territorial disputes. This year, 8 members of the Soviet block were admitted and 2 are lined up for entry in 2007 (Bulgaria and Romania). All the Balkan countries are potentially eligible, in the hope of encouraging them to make peace. The EU is taking over the peacekeeping mission in Bosnia from NATO later this year. This will be the Union's biggest military operation ever.
Turkey is likely to be invited to the EU. They hope that admitting Turkey to the EU will confirm that Islam is not incompatible with western values, although there are worries about enlargement the EU. All European Union citizens are free to live and work anywere in the EU, so they fear for a lot of emmigration.
E Pluribus unum?
The Europeans do not think that, to prevent a war, a closer union is needed. They think that the EU must become a global power.
The EU is split between two competiting visions. One of them is known as multipolarity or Euro-nationalism. They want that the EU becomes an independent actor defeading against the United States. The other vision is known as Atlanticism, they want to keep the western alliance alive. Tony Blair is against the Euro-nationalism ideas.
There is an idea that the EU should become a super power like the United States. This idea was tested in a poll and most of the members of the EU agreed.
Europe makes up only 11% of the world's population, so they need to group togehter for defending there interests and ideas.
55% of the Americans agreed that war was necessary to obtain justice, in Germany and France it was only 12%. This shows us that the European countries think a lot different about military force compared with the Americans. For example the EU spends more money on foreign aid than the United States does.
Passport to prosperity
In the 12 countries that adopted the Euro, there is an unemployment of 9%. This mitght come because of the fact that the economic growth in Europe is stagnated. From 1945 to 1975 the growth only went higher.
At the moment America is the richest country, followed by France, Italy, Britain and the Germany. Sir Nico said, that Britain was so poor because of Britain's lack of enthousiasm for the process of European integration. Britain did not join the European Economic Community until 1973. Then the hope for poorer countries to achieve wealth levels of the richer countries grew. Entry the EU has encouraged fast economic growth.
When the euro came in 2002, the EU hoped for trade, competition and finally growth. Unfortunattely these hopes are still not fulfilled. The growth in Europe was 0,8%, while in the United States this was over 3% and in China it was over 10%. So the Euro did not help with the economic growth. But are these figures bad? Asian grows faster than Europe, but they also started poorer. The growth in the United States is because of the increase of the population. The productivity per worker is almost simular to that in Europe. The mean difference is related to the problems in Germany, because they are still recovering. But Finlands was rated as the world's most competitive economy and Sweden came in third. So the growth figures of Europe against the United States are still a questionmark.
The EU has 35 people of pensionable age for every 100 of working people. In 2050 the 35 people will be 75. Andre Sapir, an economics professor, says: the current combination of low growth and high public expenditure is not sustainable and will become less so in the future. The unemplyoment is only one of the problems. There are also single mothers, people classified as disable or early retired people who are a part of the problem. About 40% of the people that can work, are economic inactive. In the united States this is only 29%. So Europe must get more people back to work for a higher economic growth. Therefore every country in the EU is trying to get there people at work as much as they can. If the economic problems stays, there might come some political tensions under the EU members. Enlargement the EU might be one of them. Because there must be rules that make sense in every country of the EU.
One for all
When the Euro came in 2002, the prediction was that there would be a lot of chaos. At the moment the Euro became the most powerfull symbol of the European unity. However there are risks bounded to one currency for more countries. When one country runs into fiancial problems, it might be that other countries have to pay for it. But with the large number of members, the risk is spread unther the countries.
No love lost
A lot of the founders of the EU are related tho the second world war, one way or the other. Germany, however, have refused to hold referendums on crucial steps for the EU, for example with the Euro.
Jean-Claude Juncker, prime minister of Luxembourg, says: We decide on something, leave it lying around and wait and see what happens. If no one kicks up a fuss, because most people don not know what has been decided, we continue step by step until there is no way back. Many times this method worked. For example with the Euro.
The EU wants to become a kind of United States of Europe. The EU already haves many state-like characteristics, like the currency, a central bank, a parlemaint etcetera.
The image and the benefits of the EU is doubtfull. Almost half of European voters would not care if the EU simply disappeared.
Because of the union there have been a lot of changes in the countries, because the country law did not agree with the European law. In the Netherlands by example, the ladders for the windowcleaners were too long, and had to be shortned. Some people belief that the EU programmes are corrupt and wasteful.
The European constitution gives the EU a role in immigration. Immigration has changed the face of western Europe (by the immigration of many foreigners). This kind of changes has provoked political reactions. The terrorist treats came stronger on the people because of al the earlier political reactions on the immigration. The constitution also gives the EU a role in governing political asylum.
Europe a la carte
The EU is going trough a rough time. It seems unlikely that the union will collaps, but it might split. A cause of a split could be a failed effort to approve the European constitution. It stil is a question how many power the constitution gives the EU. It increases the sensitives areas, like immigration and criminal law. Also the constitution is a privilege of fundamental rights.
Eleven of the EU countries have promissed or all-but-promised (the very opposit of promissed) to hold referendums on the constitution. When one country disagree with the constitution, the constitution will not come into force. If it might come so far, there is an agreement, that they try it for two years and then decide what to do next. The biggest question marks are Britain, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Poland. But it stil is possible that the constitution will come trough. At the moment, however, it seems more likely that there will be at least one country that votes against.
If one or two countries vote against, they might be asked to leave the EU. However, under the current EU law, every country has every right to insist of staying in the Union.
When a larger number of countries vote against, the EU split into two parts; the political union and the economic union.
It is possible that the EU splits, but it is more likely that the outcomes is otherwise.
If the constitution does not come trough, than in short term, this might disrupt the emergence of the multi-tiered EU. In the long term they might see that the EU s too divers that it is not possible to have an EU with only one uniform structure.
A more diverse EU allows countries to adopt different levels of European integration. Diversity also allows some useful competition between the different economic and social models within Europe.