“EUROPEAN COMMUNITY” & “CONSOLIDATION AND EXPANSION OF EUROPEAN COMMUNITY”&”EUROPEAN UNION“
- After World War II, moves towards European integration were seen by many as an escape from the extreme forms of nationalism that had devastated the continent. The 1948 Hague Congress was a pivotal moment in European federal history, as it led to the creation of the European Movement International and also of the College of Europe, a place where Europe’s future leaders would live and study together.
- 1952 saw the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community, which was declared to be “a first step in the federation of Europe“, starting with the aim of eliminating the possibility of further wars between its member states by means of pooling the national heavy industries.
The European Communities were three international organisations:
- European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC)
- European Economic Community (EEC)
- European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or Euratom).
- The three Communities shared the same membership, the six states that signed the Treaty of Paris and subsequent treaties were known as the “Inner Six” (the “outer seven” were those countries who formed the European Free Trade Association). Those six states are France, West Germany, Italy,Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.
European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC)
- The Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950 was a governmental proposal by incumbent French Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, to create a new form of organisation of states in Europe called a “supranational community”.
- Schuman proposed that “Franco-German production of coal and steel as a whole be placed under a common High Authority, within the framework of an organisation open to the participation of the other countries of Europe.” Such an act was intended to help economic growth and cement peace between France and Germany, who were historic enemies. Coal and steel were vital resources needed for a country to wage war, so pooling those resources between two such enemies was seen as more than symbolic.
- The Schuman Declaration that created the ECSC after Treaty of Paris had several distinct aims:
- It would mark the birth of a united Europe.
- It would make war between member states impossible.
- It would encourage world peace.
- It would transform Europe in a ‘step by step’ process (building through sectoral supranational communities) leading to the unification of Europe democratically, unifying two political blocks separated by the Iron Curtain.
- It would create the world’s first supranational institution.
- It would create the world’s first international anti-cartel agency.
- It would create a common market across the Community.
- It would, starting with the coal and steel sector, revitalise the whole European economy by similar community processes.
- It would improve the world economy and the developing countries, such as those in Africa
Treaty of Paris
- The Treaty of Paris (formally the Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community) was signed on 18 April 1951 between France, West Germany, Italy and the three Benelux countries (Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands), establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC).
- The ECSC was the first international organisation to be based on the principles of supranationalism, and would ultimately lead the way to the founding of the European Union.
- The ECSC was first proposed by French foreign minister Robert Schuman on 9 May 1950 as a way to prevent further war between France and Germany. He declared his aim was to “make war not only unthinkable but materially impossible” which was to be achieved by regional integration, of which the ECSC was the first step.
- The treaty was seen as producing diplomatic and economic stability in western Europe after the Second World War. Some of the main enemies during the war were now sharing production of coal and steel, the key-resources which previously had been central to the war effort.
- The Treaty would create a common market for coal and steel among its member states which served to neutralise competition between European nations over natural resources.
- The ECSC was run by four institutions:
- a High Authority composed of independent appointees
- a Common Assembly composed of national parliamentarians
- a Special Council composed of nation ministers,
- a Court of Justice.
- These would ultimately form the blueprint for today’s European Commission, European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Court of Justice.
- The ECSC was joined by two other similar communities in 1957, the European Economic Community and European Atomic Energy Community, with whom it shared its membership and some institutions. In 1967 all its institutions were merged with that of the European Economic Community, but it retained its own independent legal personality.
- In 1993 the Communities were incorporated into the European Union after Maastricht Treaty, becoming its first pillar.
- In 2002 the Treaty of Paris expired (as the first treaty, it was the only one with a limit of 50 years) and all the ECSC activities and resources were absorbed by the European Community.
Achievements and Failures of ECSC
- The Community had little effect on coal and steel production, which was influenced more by global trends. Trade between members did increase (tenfold for steel) which saved members’ money by not having to import resources from the United States. The High Authority also issued modernization loans to the industry which helped the industry to improve output and reduce costs. Costs were further reduced by the abolition of tariffs at borders.
- Another ECSC’s achievements are those on welfare issues. Some mines, for example were clearly unsustainable without government subsidies. Over 15 years it financed 112,500 flats for workers, paying US$1,770 per flat, enabling workers to buy a home they could not have otherwise afforded. The ECSC also paid half the occupational redeployment costs of those workers who have lost their jobs as coal and steel facilities began to close down. Combined with regional redevelopment aid the ECSC spent $150 million creating 100,000 jobs, a third of which were for unemployed coal and steel workers. The welfare guarantees invented by the ECSC were extended to workers outside the coal and steel sector by some of its members.
- Far more important than creating Europe’s first social and regional policy, it is argued that the ECSC introduced European peace. Another world war, or ‘world suicide’ as Schuman called this threat in 1949, was avoided.
- However the ECSC failed to achieve several fundamental aims of the Treaty of Paris. It was hoped the ECSC would prevent a resurgence of large coal and steel groups such as the Konzerne, which helped Adolf Hitler rise to power. In the Cold War trade-offs, the cartels and major companies re-emerged, leading to apparent price fixing (another element that was meant to be tackled).
- In a time of high inflation and monetary instability ECSC also fell short of ensuring an upward equalisation of pay of workers within the market.
- But the initial success of ECSC led to the desire to create more, but attempts at creating a European Defence Community and a European Political Community failed leading to a return to economic matters. In 1957, the EAEC and EEC were created by the Treaties of Rome.
European Economic Community (EEC)
Treaty of Rome
- The Treaty of Rome, officially the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (TEEC), is an international agreement that led to the founding of the European Economic Community (EEC) on 1 January 1958. It was signed on 25 March 1957 by Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany.
- The Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, for the purpose of developing peaceful applications of atomic energy, was signed by the same countries on the same day, and therefore the two treaties together are often called the Treaties of Rome.
- The European Economic Community‘s initial aim was to bring about economic integration, including a common market and customs union, among its six founding members: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany.
- The EEC was designed to create a common market among its members through the elimination of most trade barriers and the establishment of a common external trade policy. The treaty also provided for a common agricultural policy, which was established in 1962 to protect EEC farmers from agricultural imports. The first reduction in EEC internal tariffs was implemented in January 1959, and by July 1968 all internal tariffs had been removed. Between 1958 and 1968 trade among the EEC’s members quadrupled in value.
- Politically, the EEC aimed to reduce tensions in the aftermath of World War II. In particular, it was hoped that integration would promote a lasting reconciliation of France and Germany, thereby reducing the potential for war. EEC governance required political cooperation among its members through formal supranational institutions. These institutions included the Commission, which formulated and administered EEC policies; the Council of Ministers, which enacted legislation; the European Parliament, originally a strictly consultative body whose members were delegates from national parliaments (later they would be directly elected); and the European Court of Justice, which interpreted community law and arbitrated legal disputes.
- Members revamped the organization several times in order to expand its policy-making powers and to revise its political structure. On July 1, 1967, the governing bodies of the EEC, ECSC, and Euratom were merged.
- Through the Single European Act, which entered into force in 1987, EEC members committed themselves to remove all remaining barriers to a common market by 1992. The act also gave the EEC formal control of community policies on the environment, research and technology, education, health, consumer protection, and other areas.
- Upon the formation of the European Union (EU) in 1993 after Maastricht Treaty, the EEC was incorporated and renamed as the European Community (EC). In 2009 the EC’s institutions were absorbed into the EU’s wider framework and the community ceased to exist.
European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom)
- The Euratom Treaty, officially the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community established the international organization European Atomic Energy Community. It was signed on the 25 March 1957 at the same time as the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (EEC Treaty). (established by one of the Treaties of Rome in 1958)
- European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) had main aim was to form a common market for the development of the peaceful uses of atomic energy. It was established with the purpose of creating a specialist market for nuclear power in Europe, developing nuclear energy and distributing it to its member states while selling the surplus to non-member states.
- The original members were Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.
- While the EEC has evolved into what is now the European Union, Euratom has remained much the same as it was in 1957, albeit governed by the institutions of the European Union.
- The Euratom treaty has seen very little amendment due to the later sensitivity surrounding nuclear power amongst European public opinion. Because of this some argue that it has become too out-dated, particularly in the areas of democratic oversight. It is therefore still in force today but as a separate legal treaty. It forms part of the active treaties of the European Union.
Merger Treaty (Brussels Treaty): Formation of European Communities (EC)
- Throughout the 1960s, tensions began to show with France seeking to limit supranational power. However, in 1965, an agreement was reached and hence in 1967, the Merger Treaty was signed in Brussels.
- The Merger Treaty was a European treaty which combined the executive bodies of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) and the European Economic Community (EEC) into a single institutional structure.
- It set out that the Commission of the EEC and the Council of the EEC were to take over the responsibilities of its counterparts in the other organisations.
- Although each Community remained legally independent, they shared common institutions (prior to this treaty, they already shared a Parliamentary Assembly and Court of Justice) and were together known as the European Communities.
- This treaty is regarded by some as the real beginning of the modern European Union.
- In 1973, the Communities enlarged to include Denmark (including Greenland, which later left the Community in 1985, following a dispute over fishing rights), Ireland, and the United Kingdom. Norway had negotiated to join at the same time, but Norwegian voters rejected membership in a referendum.
- Other countries which joined: Greece in 1981 and Portugal and Spain in 1986. The former East Germany was admitted as part of reunified Germany in 1990.
- In 1979, the first direct, democratic elections to the European Parliament were held.
- In 1986, the European flag began to be used by the Community and the Single European Act (explained later) was signed.
- The Schengen Agreement led to the creation of Europe’s borderless Schengen Area. The treaty was signed on 14 June 1985 by five of the ten member states of the then European Economic Community near the town of Schengen in Luxembourg but was not implemented (partially) until 1995. It proposed the gradual abolition of border checks at the signatories’ common borders. Measures proposed included reduced speed vehicle checks which allowed vehicles to cross borders without stopping, allowing of residents in border areas freedom to cross borders away from fixed checkpoints and the harmonisation of visa policies.
- In 1990 the Agreement was supplemented by the Schengen Convention which proposed the abolition of internal border controls and a common visa policy. The Schengen Area operates very much like a single state for international travel purposes with external border controls for travellers entering and exiting the area, and common visas, but with no internal border controls. It currently consists of 26 European countries
Single European Act
- Single European Act (SEA), agreement enacted by the European Economic Community (EEC; precursor to the European Community and, later, the European Union) that committed its member countries to a timetable for their economic merger and the establishment of a single European currency and common foreign and domestic policies.
- It was signed in February 1986 in Luxembourg and The Hague and entered into force on July 1, 1987. Several significant provisions of the SEA brought important modifications to the foundational treaties of the 1950s that had established the European Communities—the EEC, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).
- Although the European Parliament had been established by the EEC, it was limited to a mostly advisory role, and its officials were not directly elected. The SEA expanded the European Parliament’s powers to include a veto over the admittance of new member states and over agreements made with associated states. It also established the direct election of the parliament’s members.
- Further, the SEA gave more authority to the European Council, a body made up of the leaders of all member countries. The council may be understood as a unified executive branch of government; the president of the council is also known as the “president of the EU.”
- Thus, not only did the SEA make significant institutional changes, it also made strides toward political integration of Europe. But the most important and sweeping aspect of the SEA’s contributions was the timetable it detailed for the creation of a single European market in 1993.
- With its economic provisions, the SEA began the world’s largest trading area. It did so by permitting the free movement of goods, capital, labour, and services among and between member states. Before the implementation of the SEA’s provisions, there had been some success toward the creation of a single market, but there were still many barriers (such as the differential rates of a value-added tax), and border crossings still involved much red tape, which complicated the shipment of goods. The SEA was the first attempt to have a Europe without frontiers by going further to ensure union than had any agreement before it.
- In addition to introducing unitary-market mechanisms, it established standards for workers’ health and safety, set up European research and technology development strategies, and created policies designed to protect the environment. Hence, the SEA was a major step in the direction of establishing what is now the European Union.
- With further enlargement planned for former communist states, Cyprus, and Malta, the Copenhagen criteria for candidate members to join the European Union were agreed upon in June 1993.
European Union (EU)
- Maastricht Treaty (formally Treaty on European Union) international agreement approved by the heads of government of the states of the European Community (EC) in Maastricht, Netherlands, in December 1991. Ratified by all EC member states (voters in Denmark rejected the original treaty but later approved a slightly modified version), the treaty was signed on February 7, 1992, and entered into force on November 1, 1993.
- The European Union superseded and absorbed the European Communities as one of its three pillars. The first Commission President following the creation of the EU was Jacques Delors.
- The Maastricht Treaty built upon the Single European Act and Declaration on European Union in the creation of the European Union and introduced the European Citizenship.
- The treaty established a European Union (EU), with EU citizenship granted to every person who was a citizen of a member state. EU citizenship enabled people to vote and run for office in local and European Parliament elections in the EU country in which they lived, regardless of their nationality. The treaty also provided for the introduction of a central banking system and a common currency (the euro), committed members to implementing common foreign and security policies, and called for greater cooperation on various other issues, including the environment, policing, and social policy.
- The European Union (EU) is a politico-economic union of presently 28 member states in Europe (only Cyprus is in Asia).
Three Pillars Of EU
- Between 1993 and 2009, the European Union (EU) legally comprised three pillars. This structure was introduced with the Treaty of Maastricht on 1 November 1993, and was eventually abandoned on 1 December 2009 upon the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, when the EU obtained a consolidated legal personality.
- Only the first pillar followed the principles of supranationalism (A supranational union is a type of multi-national organization where negotiated power is delegated to an authority by governments of member states).
- Competencies of the EEC fell within the European Community pillar.
- The Commission, Parliament and Court of Justice are largely cut out of activities in the second and third pillars, with the Council dominating proceedings. This allowed the new areas to be based on intergovernmentalism (unanimous agreement between governments) rather than majority voting and independent institutions according to supranational democracy.
- With further enlargement planned for former communist states, Cyprus, and Malta, the Copenhagen criteria for candidate members to join the European Union were agreed upon in June 1993 at the June 1993 European Council in Copenhagen, Denmark.
- The Copenhagen criteria are the rules that define whether a country is eligible to join the European Union. The criteria require that a state has the institutions to preserve democratic governance and human rights, has a functioning market economy, and accepts the obligations and intent of the EU.
- Evaluation of a country’s fulfilment of the criteria is the responsibility of the European Council.
- Following the creation of the EU in November 1993, it has enlarged to include a further sixteen countries. In 1995, Austria, Finland, and Sweden joined the EU. In 2004, the EU saw its biggest enlargement to date when Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland,Slovakia, and Slovenia joined the Union.
- Countries accede to the union by becoming party to the founding treaties, thereby subjecting themselves to the privileges and obligations of EU membership. This entails a partial delegation of sovereignty to the institutions in return for representation within those institutions, a practice often referred to as “pooling of sovereignty“
- The Amsterdam Treaty was signed on 2 October 1997, and entered into force on 1 May 1999; it made substantial changes to the Treaty of Maastricht, which had been signed in 1992.
- The Treaty of Amsterdam increased powers of the European Parliament in diverse areas including new abilities to legislate on immigration, civil and criminal law and to enact foreign and security policy, as well as institutional changes for expansion as new member nations of the EU join.
- international agreement that amended the Maastricht Treaty, Treaties of Rome, and other documents to simplify and streamline the institutions that govern the European Union (EU). Proposed in 2007, the Lisbon Treaty was ratified by most member states in 2008, but a referendum in Ireland—the only country that put the Lisbon agreement to a public vote—rejected it on June 12, 2008, putting in jeopardy the entire treaty. More than a year later, on October 2, 2009, Ireland held a second referendum, which passed. Poland’s government also had expressed reservations, but it ratified the treaty a week after the Irish vote, after securing opt-outs from EU policy on some social issues, such as abortion.
- The Lisbon Treaty, thus ratified by all 27 member states, entered into force on December 1, 2009.
- The Lisbon Treaty changed the legal structure of the European Union by merging the three pillars and abolished the European Community; with the European Union becoming the Community’s legal successor. Only one of the three European Communities still exists and the phrase “European Communities” no longer appears.
- It created a permanent President of the European Council, and strengthened the High Representative.
More about EU
- The EU has developed a single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states. Within the Schengen Area, passport controls have been abolished. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital, enact legislation in justice and home affairs, and maintain common policies on trade,agriculture,fisheries, and regional development.
- The monetary union (Euro Zone) was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002 in 12 of the member states. It is currently composed of 18 member states that use the euro as their legal tender.
- Through the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the EU has developed a role in external relations and defence. The union maintains permanent diplomatic missions throughout the world and represents itself at the United Nations, the WTO, the G8, and the G-20.
- With a combined population of over 500 million inhabitants or 7.3% of the world population,GDP of 16.584 trillion US dollars, 23% of global nominal GDP and 20% in terms of PPP. If it were a country, the EU would come first in nominal GDP and second in GDP (PPP) in the world. 26 out of 28 EU countries have a very high Human Development Index.
- In 2012, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Constitutional nature of EU:
- Historically, the EU is an international organisation, and by some criteria, it could be classified as a confederation; but it also has many attributes of a federation.This organisation has, in the past, been termed sui generis (incomparable, one of a kind).
- The organisation itself has traditionally used the terms “community”, and later “union”. The difficulties of classification involve the difference between national law (where the subjects of the law include natural persons and corporations) and international law (where the subjects include sovereign states and international organisations). In terms of the European constitutional tradition, the term federation is equated with a sovereign federal state in international law; so the EU cannot be called a federal state or federation.
- Though not, strictly, a federation, it is, however, described as being based on a federal model or federal in nature. Some call it “an unfinished federal state”.
- The German Constitutional Court refers to the European Union as an association of sovereign states and affirms that making the EU a federation would require replacement of the German constitution.
- Others claim that it will not develop into a federal state but has reached maturity as an international organisation.
Competences of EU:
- EU member states retain all powers not explicitly handed to the European Union.
- In some areas the EU enjoys exclusive competence. These are areas in which member states have renounced any capacity to enact legislation.
- In other areas the EU and its member states have shared competency to legislate. While both can legislate, member states can only legislate to the extent to which the EU has not.
- In other policy areas the EU can only co-ordinate, support and supplement member state action but cannot enact legislation (Supportive Competency).
- The EU operates within those competencies conferred on it by the treaties and according to the principle of subsidiarity (which dictates that action by the EU should only be taken where an objective cannot be sufficiently achieved by the member states alone).
- Laws made by the EU institutions can be classified into two groups:
- those which come into force without the necessity for national implementation measures
- those which specifically require national implementation measures.
- The European Union has seven institutions:
- European Parliament
- Council of the European Union (or Council of Ministers)
- European Commission
- European Council
- European Central Bank
- Court of Justice of the European Union
- European Court of Auditors.
- Competencies in scrutinising and amending legislation are divided between the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union while executive tasks are carried out by the European Commission and in a limited capacity by the European Council (not to be confused with Council of the European Union).
- The monetary policy of the eurozone is governed by the European Central Bank.
- The interpretation and the application of EU law and the treaties are ensured by the Court of Justice of the European Union.
- The EU budget is scrutinised by the European Court of Auditors.
(1) European Council:
- The European Council gives direction to the EU (negotiation of the treaty changes and EU’s policy agenda and strategies).
- It comprises the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and head of each member state.
- It is Union’s “supreme political authority”.
- On 19 November 2009 (after Lisbon Treaty), Herman Van Rompuy was chosen as the first permanent President of the European Council.
- The European Council should not be mistaken for the Council of Europe, an international organisation independent from the EU.
(2) European Commission:
- The European Commission acts as the EU’s executive arm and is responsible for initiating legislation and the day-to-day running of the EU. It operates as a cabinet government, with 28 Commissioners for different areas of policy, one from each member state, though Commissioners are bound to represent the interests of the EU as a whole rather than their home state.
- One of the 28 is the Commission President appointed by the European Council.
- After the President, the most prominent Commissioner is the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy who is ex-officio Vice-President of the Commission and is chosen by the European Council too. The other 26 Commissioners are subsequently appointed by the Council of the European Union.
- The 28 Commissioners as a single body are subject to a vote of approval by the European Parliament.
(3) The European Parliament:
- It forms one half of the EU’s legislature (the other half is the Council of the European Union). The 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are directly elected by EU citizens every five years on the basis of proportional representation. Although MEPs are elected on a national basis, they sit according to political groups rather than their nationality.
- After the Treaty of Maastricht, Parliament gained a much bigger role. Maastricht brought in the co-decision procedure, which gave it equal legislative power with the Council on Community matters. Both the Treaty of Amsterdam (1999) and the Treaty of Nice (2003) also extended co-decision procedure to nearly all policy areas, giving Parliament equal power to the Council in the Community. Hence, with the greater powers of the supranational institutions and the operation of Majority Voting in the Council, could be described as a more federal method of decision making.
- The Commission is accountable to Parliament
- The President of the European Parliament carries out the role of speaker in parliament and represents it externally. The EP President and Vice-Presidents are elected by MEPs every two and a half years.
(4) The Council of the European Union:
- The Council of the European Union (also called the “Council” or the “Council of Ministers”) forms the other half of the EU’s legislature.
- Notwithstanding its meets in different configurations based on policy areas, it is considered to be one single body.
- In addition to its legislative functions, the Council also exercises executive functions in relations to the Common Foreign and Security Policy.
(5)The Court of Auditors:
- It aims to ensure that the budget of the European Union has been properly accounted for. The court provides an audit report for each financial year to the Council and the European Parliament. The Parliament uses this to decide whether to approve the Commission’s handling of the budget.
- The Court also gives opinions and proposals on financial legislation and anti-fraud actions.
- The EU have budget of just above 1% of the EU’s GNI with largest expenditure on cohesion & competitiveness and then agriculture.
(6) The Court of Justice of the European Union:
- It consists of three courts: the Court of Justice, the General Court, and the European Union Civil Service Tribunal. Together they interpret and apply the treaties and the law of the EU.
- The Court of Justice primarily deals with cases taken by member states, the institutions, and cases referred to it by the courts of member states.
- The General Court mainly deals with cases taken by individuals and companies directly before the EU’s courts. Decisions from the General Court can be appealed to the Court of Justice but in certain cases.
- The European Union Civil Service Tribunal adjudicates in disputes between the European Union and its civil service.
(7)The European Central Bank:
- Central bank for the euro and administers monetary policy of the Eurozone (18 member states).
Positives and Negatives of EU
(1) Broad political and legal benefits
- European harmony – European Union countries are no longer at loggerheads like they were in the past. With the exception of civil war in Yugoslavia (which wasn’t in the EU at the time), Europe has managed to heal the divisions which were so painfully exposed in the two World Wars in the Twentieth Century. Many Eastern European countries are keen to join the EU because they feel it will help promote economic and political stability and EU also contributed to bring democracies in many European nations especially after fall of USSR.
- Legal and human rights:The EU has a strong commitment to human rights, preventing discrimination and the due process of law. This makes the EU attractive to countries, such as the Ukraine who wish to share in similar legal and human rights. Prospect of membership has helped modernise countries, such as Turkey. The Copenhagen Criteria for EU membership enshrine commitment to human rights, rule of law and market economy. The prospect of gaining membership of the EU, encourage countries to implement human rights legislation.
- Being part of a large supranational organisation means that a country has a greater influence with world affairs, as they both represent themselves and are represented by the EU. It also ensures its safety and less expenditures on defence.
- The Working Time Directive means workers are protected from exploitation. In addition, consumers are granted consumer rights not seen almost anywhere else in the world.
- Greater cooperation on issues of national security, including drug trafficking and cyber-crime.
- A European Health Insurance Card means that if you fall ill or get injured in another EU country, you can get the same level of medical care that a citizen of that country would get. This relates to EU citizenship.
- (Write more points from the chapter explained above)
(2) Economic benefits:
- EU is one of strongest economic areas in the world. With 500 million people, it has 7.3% of the world’s population, but accounts for 23% of nominal global GDP.
- Free trade and removal of non-tariff barriers have helped reduce costs and prices for consumers. Increased trade to the EU creates jobs and higher income.
- Single Market has boosted the EU’s GDP by €877 billion in 10 years
- Removal of customs barriers mean 60 million customs clearance documents per year no longer need to be completed, cutting bureaucracy and reducing costs and delivery times
- Countries in the EU, are amongst the highest positions in the Human Development Index (HDI)
- Poorer counties, such as Ireland, Portugal and Spain have made significant degrees of economic development since they joined the European Union.
- Social cohesion fund has invested in poorer areas of the EU to help reduce regional disparities.
- EU structural funds to help Eastern European economies develop will benefit other European nations’ export in the long term because as they become more affluent, they will be able to buy more.
- The European Union has attracted greater inward investment from outside the EU.
- The European Social Fund (ESF)
(3) Labour and free movement of people
- Free movement of labour and capital have helped create a more flexible economy.
- Far from ‘taking jobs’, migration has helped increase productive capacity and makes a net contribution to tax revenues.
- Easier to study and use qualifications in different member countries. This makes it easier to work abroad without having to retrain in different national qualifications.
- Mutual recognition of safety standards and rules have helped reduce costs for firms. This has encouraged the development of small and medium business who rely on low cost of exports.
- Social charter enshrines protection for workers such as maximum working week, right to collective bargaining and fair pay for employment.
- European Arrest Warrant (EAW) scheme has made it easier to track criminals across the European continent.
(4) Environmental benefits of the EU
- The EU have raised the quality of sea water and beeches, by implementing regulations on water standards.
- Tackling global warming.
- Tackling acid rain.
(5) Consumer benefits of the EU
- EU competition policy has harmonised regulation of monopoly and cartel power within Europe.
- Consumers are free to shop in any EU countries without paying any tariffs or excise duties when they return home.
- The larger European Member States contribute (financially) more to the organization. On the other hand, they still exert more influence in decision-making and policy making.
- The EU has taken away some powers, such as trade agreements and has led to a greater influx of immigrants in some countries.
- The Common Fisheries Policy has had arguably some negative effects on the fishing industry.
- The Euro has suffered from serious problems in recent years, as there was a lack of fiscal or banking union.
- EU working time directive has led to higher costs to business and higher costs to consumers.
- The EHI Card also means EU nationals can use the National Health Service to cover their medical costs
- The ‘single currency’ poses a great problem – not all member countries are using the Euro though the EU emphasized its use; still, many problems have risen over the year.
- Overcrowding – it was mentioned earlier that the citizens of member countries are free to move from one place to another; this has led to overcrowding in the major cities and it has increased prices of houses, as well as congestion on the roads
- Migration problem.
- Pressure towards austerity
- More bureaucracy less democracy
- Inefficient policies. A large percentage of EU spending goes on the Common Agricultural Policy. For many years this distorted agricultural markets by placing minimum prices on food. This lead to higher prices for consumers and encouraging over-supply.Common Agricultural Policy which resulted to oversupply and higher prices of goods
Euroscepticism / Euroskepticism
- It is the body of criticism of the European Union (EU), and opposition to the process of political European integration, existing throughout the political spectrum.
- Traditionally, the main source of euroscepticism has been the notion that integration weakens the nation state. Other views occasionally seen as eurosceptic include perceptions of the EU being undemocratic or too bureaucratic.
- Euroscepticism is found in political parties across the left and right spectrum.
- The elections in 2014 saw a big anti-Establishment vote in favour of eurosceptic parties taking around 25% of the seats available. Those who won their national elections include: UKIP in the UK (the first time since 1906 that a party other than Labour or the Conservatives had won a national vote), National Front in France, The Peoples Party in Denmark, SYRIZA in Greece, and second places taken by the Five Star Movement in Italy and Sinn Féin in Ireland. Following the election, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy agreed to re-evaluate the economic area’s agenda and to launch consultations on future policy areas with the 28 member states.