Essay on the European Union
Number of words: 2309
The European Union is perhaps one of today’s greatest spectacles. In definition, the European Union refers to a union of nations. These groups of nations interactions relates to their political as well as economic interactions. It is a fact that their interaction is based on an intergovernmental union rather than a single state. Therefore, the European Union is made of 28 member countries whose interaction operates based on independent institutions representing nations.
The various institutions of the Union include the Council of the European Union, European Commission, the Court of Justice of the Union, the European Parliament, the European Central Bank as well as the Court of Auditors. Historically, the Union traces its origins on the European Economic Community and the European Coal and Steel Community (Ehrmann, Soudan, & Stracca, 2013). This paper concentrates on the idea of unifying Europe into one. It looks at the features of the current European Union, its operation as well as its ideology.
History of the European Union
The Idea of unifying Europe was noble. However, one needs to understand that it was not new to the people of the region. The idea began with Napoleon Bonaparte whose attempts could have joined the region in the 19th century. As if it was a calling in the 1930s, Adolph Hitler ran a campaign in Europe with the intention of conquering the whole region. Throughout history various wars towards conquering Europe has been fought by different groups. However, Europe had to be one following the two great wars (Roy, 2014). People within the region finally felt after the Second World War that war would not solve their needs. In the year 1945, at the end of World War II factories lay in ruins.
Road networks had been destroyed with bombs; people’s livelihood destroyed as well as people left homeless. It was apparent that Europe had to become one. An organization had to be formed to limit future destructions. Further, the region had to be united; to build their infrastructure, economy and currency (McKibben, 2013). The formation of the European Union therefore marks a new dawn for member countries of Europe. Through this Union, countries had their economies transformed; goods then moved freely within borders, capital moved within the region as well as workers (Roy, 2014).
In terms of the year on inception, the European Union began its operations in the years 1951 and 1958. It was after the World War II that European nations saw the need to form one Union. After the war nations, forming the European Union felt the negative implications of nationalism and other forms in the region. It did not take long before the founding nations including Belgium, Italy, Netherlands and West Germany joined hands to form a formidable force. By the year 1957, six current member countries had signed a treaty. The Treaty popularly known as the Rome Treaty prolonged the earlier treaty (Roy, 2014). However, during the meeting another treaty the European Energy Community came into operation. The Union just like other Unions of the world had its challenges.
Come the year 1960s tensions within its ranks began building. During this period, France a member of the Union began seeking to limit the supranational power within the Union. The disagreement dragged for some considerable period. However, in the year 19676 an agreement was reached at last. Following the development, the Merger Treaty came into practice and signed in Brussels. The Union continued its operations and in the year 1973, it enlarged to include other nations. This expansion of the Union included Denmark, Ireland as well as the United Kingdom. During this period, however Norway tried to enter the Union but her voters rejected through a referendum.
Further, the Union attracted other members. In the year 1981, Greece joined. Spain and Portugal joined the European Union in the year 1986. In terms of operation, the European Union through the Schengen Agreement created various features. One of its features was the opening of its borders to its members. Individuals from various countries within the block would pass borders without passport controls. On the other hand, the use of the European flag became a feature within the region.
This then led to the signing of the European Act. In retrospect, the European Union came into full operation in the year 1993. The architects of the Union felt that the Union had a formidable force to manage its force. They felt that the Union had reached its full operational level (Roy, 2014). Another development of the Union came in the year 1995. In this year, Sweden, Finland, Austria entered the European Union.
Another feature of the union was the replacement of member countries currency with Euro bank notes. During the year 2002, twelve members of the European Union changed their national currency into Using Euro bank notes. Additionally, further development of the Union has seen the number of countries accepting to use Euro bank notes increase to 18. The Union further increased it membership, which saw the inclusion of Slovenia, Malta, Poland, Latvia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Lithuania. Additionally, Bulgaria and Romania made their debut in the year 2007(Roy, 2014).
Structure of the European Union
The European Union represents a formidable cooperation among sovereign states. The system of integrations reveals that states within the union maintain their unique governance structures. The structure of the Union follows binding treaties and laws that have been in operation for years. Member countries to the European Union adopt common polices that border on political as well as social policies. With this in mind, member countries of the EU share common market for people and goods (Marian, 2012). On the other hand, these countries share a common custom union. In relation to various policies within the European Union, member countries have a common trade, agricultural as well as common currency (Neuner, 2013). Additionally, member countries to the European Union share common security, home affairs, and justice policy.
The structure of the European Union consists of seven critical decision making bodies. These bodies of operation are listed in the Treaty on European Union as the European Union Council, the Court Justice of the European Union, the European parliament, the court of Auditors and the European Central Bank. On the other hand, the European Union has agencies of operation separate from the bodies. These agencies operate as of assistance to the various bodies; giving advice as well as logistical support. Specialised agencies handle a wide range of scientific, technical and managerial tasks (Dietz, 2014). The various agencies come into four categories. They include executive, European institute of innovation and Technology, decentralised and EURATOM agencies.
The European Union Council
In relation to the political aspect of the European Union, the European Council sets the political agenda. The Council is responsible for setting up avenues to promote integration of EU and national leaders. The European Council however has no power to pass laws within the Union. The European parliament on the other hand concentrates in representing individuals within the region.
As a body responsible for legislation, the parliament represents EU citizens directly. To assist this body, the European commission as well as the council of European Union provides various services. The Council of the European Union provides a representation of various individuals and governments of EU members (Monar, 2013). On the other hand, the presidency of the council comes on a rotational basis between member states. Further, on the legislative front, the European commission represents interest of whole EU members.
The Court of Justice
The Court of Justice of the European Union assists in the maintenance of the rule of law within member countries. The court of Justice in the EU is responsible for the interpretation of law within its member countries (Dawson, 2014). The institution is responsible for settling legal disputes between individuals, countries, organizations, and companies within the EU. The court’s composition consists of one Judge per every member country. It has nine advocates general as well as other officials (Monar, 2013).
On the other hand, the European Union has a Court of Auditors. The court of Auditors is responsible for providing financial checks within the EU. Its roles within the Union are to provide reports and financial management perspectives on the use of public funds. However, one needs to understand that the institution does not have any legal power on its own.
European Central Bank
The European Union’s Central bank is responsible for the development of the European Union monetary policy. The European Central bank other functions include keeping prices of commodities within the union at stable rates. The institution further provides supervisory services to the financial markets within the region. The bank functions within all boundaries of the 28 member countries. Such integration of the banking system within the region forms a system commonly referred to as European System of Central Banks ( ESCB). Other function of the bank includes monitoring price trends, supervise financial markets and control money supply. Its structure consists of an Executive board, General and Governing council.
Other institutions that consists the structure of the European Union include the European External Action Service. This institution assists in representing the union in the formulation of security and foreign affairs policies (Neuner, 2013). On the other hand, the EU consists of Social and the European Economic committee. These branches are responsible for representing civil society issues as well as employer and employee interactions. The Union further has committee of Regions a body responsible for local as regional affairs. Other institutions include European Investment bank, European Ombudsman, European School of Administration, Publication office and European Data Protection Supervisor.
How the European Union Works
In relation to its operations, the European Union is unique. The system of its operation ensures that member countries maintain their sovereign independence. The union’s work concentrates purely on intergovernmental integrations. The architects of the Union understand that the EU’s strength lies on the collective representation of governments within the region (Dietz, 2014). Therefore, members of the European Union make joint decisions as well as share various institutions. The EU’s operation involves 28 member countries.
These operations come because of various treaties that subject member states to various obligations. On the other hand, the operation of such states involves the pooling of sovereignty. This term refers to the partial delegation of the sovereignty of nations to institutions. However, in order for countries to join the union, they need to have a record for respecting human rights. Such countries need to have a functional market economy.
In terms of governance, the European Union constitutes seven institutions. The European Union countries integrations relates to various economic strategies within member countries. It involves cooperation in terms of policy between member countries. On the other hand, the Union operate under common budget. In the year 2007, the budget of the Union was estimated at 120.7 billion Euros. In relation to this, the union has the Court of Auditors that provides audit information about the budget (Dietz, 2014). It is also important to note that EU member countries maintain their powers of governance and sovereignty.
Therefore, member countries share competence to legislate within the Union. One can state that the EU legal system is based on a series of treaties. Treaties have been important in the setting of broad policy goals within member countries to the Union. The establishment of broad goals of legislation has the ability of the enactment of legislation that affects people in member countries. This therefore means that the EU maintains a legal personality separate from that of member countries (Mix, 2012). In relation to the enforcement of treaties, national governments are expected to ratify treaties enacted under their care.
In terms of the operation of the economy of the EU, the Union has established a single market within its borders. Member states have a single representative market recognised as the euro zone. The market then uses one currency, the Euro (Howarth & Quaglia, 2013). While it is imperative to note that the European Union has probably one of the richest economies in the world, it owns most of the corporations. It is also important to note that the market operates under a competition policy. The union is responsible for the breaking of cartels, approval of mergers and other activities.
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