European integration is by far the most advanced experiment in managing issues that cut across borders, through a combination of international and supranational arrangements. 65 years ago, the founders of the EU decided that we could only achieve results if we were united in facing common problems. At the time, the problem was war and the objective was peace. And it worked.
The EU’s historical contribution to peace and security in Europe is well-known – for which it has even been granted a Nobel peace prize. The enlargement of the Union towards former Soviet republics remains in line with this major heritage. This policy is perhaps the EU’s most absolute contribution to regional and global security. It has allowed the EU to expand in a peaceful and voluntary manner, making obsolete the concepts of colonialism and conquest.
Ten years ago, on 1 May 2004, the EU enlarged from 15 to 25 Member States (and with two subsequent enlargements to 28). It brought stability and reunited Europe after years of artificial division during the cold war; it made the EU the world’s biggest single market and increased trade between Member States, thus contributing to economic growth and strengthening further Europe’s weight in global affairs.
Countries that have joined the EU have developed positively, economically and politically. Overall, the European continent has become more prosperous and secure – even if imperfections subsist here and there. The EU’s enlargement policy has not ended, and it continues to leverage a positive conditionality on candidate countries.
Every EU enlargement has been opposed by some fearing it would weaken us. Each one has afterwards been seen as strengthening the EU. The EU helped transform the Baltic States, Poland and a number of Central and Eastern European countries. Other countries – that are willing and capable – should also be allowed to follow the same path. “We need an even stronger, broader and deeper European Union to meet the regional as well as global challenges ahead.”writes Foreign minster Carl Bildt.
In a globalised, interconnected world, the EU is stronger when it works together.
Stronger because the economies of Member States are becoming more competitive to face global competition. And stronger because at the European level, our economic and financial governance has been spectacularly reinforced. There is a lot to build on from here. A unique project.
The current EU enlargement policy is based on strict but fair conditionality, with each country treated on its own merits. This means each country moves towards the EU at a pace determined by its own performance in meeting the conditions and reaching EU standards. No shortcuts or easy fixes are allowed, as in the long run they would serve neither the countries aspiring to join, nor the EU itself.
Putting fundamentals first and being fair but firm has increased the credibility of the enlargement process, which focuses on values, principles and thorough reforms. This ensures that countries are fully prepared before joining the EU.
Croatia’s accession is evidence of the transformative power and credibility of EU enlargement policy, which has benefited not only Croatia but the entire EU. It sends a powerful signal to the whole of the Western Balkans that the prospect of European integration remains open to all aspirant countries which show the necessary will to implement political and economic reforms and prove their respect for European values, such as the rule of law, democratic principles and human rights.
The result may lead adopted democratic practices to become deeply embedded even after prize of positive reform conditionality such as EU membership has been won and its incentive power has obsolesced. Democracy assistance is usually consensual. It comprises grantaided support that can take the form of technical, material, and financial assistance to pro-democracy initiatives. Including “institutional modelling” attempts to transfer blueprints of democratic practice, procedure, and organizations that resemble working models already familiar in the established democracies.
In Europe there is some political commitment to present democracy as core european value. The EU´s role in promoting democratic political reform in central and Eastern European countries in the 1990s, and Balkans, just as many people in the transition and post-communist societies saw democratization as an aid to recovering national independence, freedom both from authoritarian rule and from political domination by the Soviet Union.
So Western Europeans saw democratic reform in the near abroad as a plus for their own security.
European integration has long fascinated scholars of political economy to understanding the political and economic initiatives at the heart of this process. In the early period of the EU´s development, social scientists attempted to explain the process of economic and political integration in Europe.
Several scholars expected in the 1950s and 1960s that regional integration would happen in many parts of the world, as relations between states changed dramatically in the aftermath of the Second World War and with the onset of the cold war
The Treaty establishing Constitution Architecture of the EU, which was signed by the member states in October 2004 and renegotiated in June 2007, was an effort to simplify and codify the existing rules governing the allocation of competences between the EU and the member-states and the operation of the EU institutions.
Even before this treaty, however, the EU already had a basic “constitutional architecture” because there is and established division of policy competences and institutional power which results from the existing treaties and how these treaties have been interpreted over the years. The character of the European project is reflected in a series of treaty discussions. The EU was in more recent times considerably strengthened by the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, in which the EU decided to adopt the euro as a common currency. Maastricht have dominated the debate. Since then, the financial and economic crisis has again raised a series of treaty questions. The constitutional question for Europe has not been laid to rest.
The precursor to the modern European Parliament was the Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community. The European Parliament initially only had the power to be consulted on legislation. By the end of the 1990s, however, in most important areas of legislation, the European Parliament had equal power with the government ministers in the Council. The Treaty of Rome established that the Commission has the sole right to initiate legislation in all areas.
As far as the European Parliament in concerned, the Treaty of Rome established the so-called consultation procedure, whereby the European Parliament is required to be consulted on the Commission´s proposed legislation before it is adopted by the Council. The first major development in the European Parliament´s legislative powers was the introduction in 1970 and 1975 of a new procedure for adopting the annual budget of the then European Community. Yet, the size of the EU budget is small relative to 28 national government budgets, constitution about 1 per cent of EU GDP, which is approximately 3 per cent of the total public expenditure in the EU. In other words, compared with national parliaments, the formal powers of the European Parliament to tax and spend remain limited.
Executive power in the EU, in terms of the right to set the policy agenda, is split between the European Council and the Commission. Whereas the European Council, which brings together the heads of government of the member states, sets the long-term policy agenda, the Commission sets the short-term agenda, via a formal monopoly on the right to initiate legislation.
Nevertheless, the legislative powers of the European Parliament were substantially extended by treaty reforms in the 1980s and 1990s. In sum, the European Parliament has developed significant independent legislative amendment and agenda,-setting powers. Despite the Commission´s exclusive right of initiative, the European Parliament is and elected body that is independent of the executive and shows this independence. It has also repeatedly shown its independence form the Council.
2007 was considered to be a decisive year for the EU for the coincidental reason that fifty years earlier the EU took its second daring step with the approval of the Rome Treaty of March 1957. This decision complemented the initial European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), officially born in 1951, by incorporating the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EUROATOM).
Looking back half a century, the Treaties of Rome featured little with regard to parliamentary powers or human rights provisions. Fifty years after the signing of the Treaties of Rome, both processes of constitutionalization – parliamentarization and the institutionalization of human rights – have thus progressed remarkably. Today, the European Parliament has “significant legislative and executive investiture/removal powers and all the trappings of a democratic parliament”
The European Union should react by showing greater unity, solidarity and courage. We should be guided by the spirit of those Treaties and not just letter. We should be able to go beyond national interests when the gravity of times so requires. The European year of Citizens 2013 was an excellent opportunity to bridge the gap between European and the European institutions. Twenty years after EU citizenship was first enshrined in the Maastricht Treaty, we can now rightly claim that what was initially regarded rather superciliously as a mere appendage to national citizenship is gradually acquiring greater strength, meaning and legitimacy.
May 9—Europe Day—is celebrated each year as the birth of today’s European Union. On May 9th 2014, the European Union celebrates ones again the Europe Day to commemorate the day in 1950 when French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposed consolidating the coal and steel industries of Europe, binding nations so closely together that renewed war would be unthinkable. The “Schuman Declaration” is considered to be the beginning of the creation of what is now the European Union of 28 Member States with half a billion people living in peace together.
When he proposed the creation of a community of peaceful interests to Federal Germany and any other European countries that wanted to join in, Robert Schuman performed a historic act. In extending a hand to recent enemies he wiped away the bitterness of war and the weight of the past.
While contributing to postwar economic recovery, this plan would also control the raw materials of war. The Schuman Declaration was regarded as the first step toward achieving a united Europe—an ideal that in the past had been pursued only by force.
Early studies of European integration focused on national governments and leaders engaged in negotiations with their foreign counterparts, logically enough insofar as the most visible early manifestation of European Community were agreements between governments.
Quickly, however, there developed an alternative approach focusing on the institutions of European integration themselves. These two approaches acquired the sobriquets “intergovernmentalism” and “institutionalism” as a way of distinguishing them form one another. Already in discussions of the first integrationist initiative of the 1950s, the European payments Union EPU, there had been hints of the tension between these competing views.
In a sense, the economic ties of the euro were meant to replace the political ties of Cold War alliance. A secondary goal was economic: to create a region of relative currency stability to encourage regional economic growth in a world of increasing financial instability.
The EPU was negotiated to address the payments problems associated with the restoration of current account convertibility following the Second World War. The EPU addressed the coordination problem facing countries seeking to liberalize. It also involved cold war politics. While the arrangement was intergovernmental, it also had a prominent institutional component, notably a managing board comprised of financial experts reporting to the Council of the Organization of European Economic Cooperation, which oversaw the policies of member states and made recommendations regarding the provision of temporary financial assistance.
The question, then, was how to understand this institutional dimension. One answer was framed in purely instrumental terms.
The EPU addressed the coordination problem facing countries seeking to liberalize the fact that it paid to relax restrictions on imports only if other countries did likewise so that the newly liberalizing country had to markets to which to export.
In more theoretically oriented terms, it was a mechanism to facilitate the coordination of liberalization initiatives across countries and to lock in the commitment to avoid backsliding by monitoring the compliance of governments with the terms of their agreement, by sharing information on such compliance, and by providing adjustment assistance.
The continents next regional initiative was the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) the Treatey of Paris was signed in April 1951, and in July 1952 the European Coal and Steel Community came int existence. The six members states (France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxemburg) agreed to the creation of a range of institutions, of which the most significant was the supranational regulatory body, the High Authority.
The position of the iron and steel industry was more complex. The initial reaction was one of caution and uncertainty. There had already been efforts in 1949 t reestablish cartel agreements and the key issue was, therefore, whether the Schuman Plan represented an attempt to restore something like the interwar cartel or something else. Central here was the potential powers and purpose of the High Authority. Most of the steel industry has not been party to the interwar cartel arrangements but had reached agreements with them. Ideally, this was what the British steel industry wanted to see emerge once more, protecting ins overseas markets in the Commonwealth and maintaining the heavily protected domestic market.
The story of Britain´s decision not to enter the negotiations over the Schuman Plan and the later negotiations which led to association with the ECSC has been well documented from a variety of angles. Coal and steel remained consequential industries in the 1950s, but that the cratin a European free trade area started with these sectors reflected not so mucyh their economic significance per se as their importance for collective security.
Studies of European integration is such as the use of regional arrangements to solve coordination problems and the role of institutions informing credible commitments.
There was also a sense that the institutions associated with this initiative had a deeper and wider impact that suggested by instrumentalitst perspective. For one thing, while the EPU was first and foremost an economic initiative directed at problems of trade and payments, it also involved cold war politics, since seed money was provided by the United States through the Marshal Plan.
This observation suggested that neither textbook economic models, which explain policy decisions on the basis of distributional interests, nor political analyses framed exclusively in terms of security concerns, sufficed to account for the initiative. Instead, some new more distinctive analysis blending politics and economics might be required.
Europe having been at the heart of two world wars and one cold war in the twentieth century alone. The major European states agreed to create a free trade area, or an exchange rate mechanism, or a single market, or a monetary union, because they saw doing so as in their peace and economic self-interest, pure and simple. From the start, European integration was always a way to deal with such changes, a way to help states adapt to historic challenges that surpass their individual power.
The European Union’s founding fathers reacted to the bloodshed and destruction of World War II by developing a plan designed to inextricably link Europe’s coal and steel industries and prevent wars from ravaging the European continent in the future.
The key to Europe’s economic future lies with reform and openness.
To explain European integration is thus sought to explain changes over time in these economic conditions, pointing for example to the rise in capital mobility in the 1980s and 1990s as an explanation for the growing urgency of discussions of monetary cooperation, especially as decision-making became increasingly structured. The specific terms of their bargain depended on the leverage that governments exercised over negotiations, together with their fallback options or threat points (the credibility of their threat to withdraw from negotiation if certain terms were not met).
Once the process of integration and expansions of the E.U started, it was driven forward by the founding generation of intellectual and political leaders, dynamized by the operation of positive feedbacks provided by economic operators. Today, the European union remains a union of sovereign nation states, and it´s progress of integration accelerates with changes in the external environment and in the structure of the European economy and policy.
European policies are no longer foreign policies. European policy is internal policy today in our Member States. Today there is need to develop a new relationship of cooperation.
European integration will always be a step-by-step process. The early analyses of European integration noted that one rational for the highly institutionalized nature of European integration was the fact that not all linked policies could be undertaken simultaneously. This made a key linkage arguments of that integration in one functional sphere increased the likelihood of integration in others.
The single market required the removal of technical barriers to the free movement of goods and services, such as separate national product standards that could be used as non-tariff barriers.
As the EEC becoming the E.U., economists generally agree that regional integration like that can spur growth. The principal goal in creating the single currency was political. The single market nationally started on January 1993, after the passage of almost 300 pieces of legislation to enable the basic elements of the single market to be established. The aim of regulatory state is to benefit all citizens more or less equally.
“We don’t realise how much we owe to the real father of Europe. In the ECSC, the important thing was already there, European executives which spends every day thinking about Europe, which had more power under the ECSC Treaty than under the Common Market Treaty. But it was all there, it was all seen by Jean Monnet and others and the people who worked with him, and it is still needed if Europe is to work.
The main objectives since the creation of the European Communities – peace and prosperity – are still of essence for us today. Recent developments confirm it.
For sure, the EU is the first genuine supranational polity to exist in human history, and as such is certainly unique. However, in practice the single market is an ongoing project, as major area of the economy such as the provision of services and the professions still operate in separate national markets rather than in a single European -wider market.
In these areas, policies are make at both the national and European levels and the European-level policies usually aim to supplement existing or ongoing policies at the national level. One might even say that the EU possesses the most formalized and complex set of decision-making rules of any political system in the world. Second, EU policy outcomes are highly significant and are felt throughout the EU. Third, EU political system is a permanent feature of political life in Europe.
The EU level has exclusive responsibility for the creation and regulation of the single market, and for managing the competition and external customs and trade policies that are inherently derived from this task. The EU level is also responsible for the monetary policies of the member-states whose currency is the euro. The introduction of the euro was one of the most important steps in the European integration process.
A wide array of policy competences are shared between the EU and the member-states. This is the case, for example, in the areas of labour market regulation, regional spending and immigration and asylum. A second area of policies can be described as “coordinated competence” in that these are policies where action remains primarily at the member state level, but the governments have accepted that they need to coordinate their domestic policies collectively at the European level because there are inevitable effects on each other form keeping these policies at the national level.
Fiscal and macroeconomic imbalances will have to be addressed at EU level, and additional solidarity might be needed to cope with the severe social toll in the countries most hit by the crisis.
For example, for the states with a single currency there is a need to coordinate their macro-economic policies, and with the freedom of movement of persons inside the EU there is a need to coordinate some policing and criminal justice policies. However, all the major areas of taxation and public spending such as education, health care, transport, housing, welfare provision, and pensions, remain the exclusive preserve of the member-states, with very little EU interference in how these policies are managed. The relations among Member States are also very different as a result of the different dynamics between 28 now as compared to 12 in 1992 or 1994 for instance.
We are, however, more than ever in recent history on the road to deepening our Economic and Monetary Union, whilst fully upholding the principles that preserve the integrity of the European Union at large. Indeed, the European Union Institutions, from the European Commission to the European Central Bank, saw their competences and power reinforced. Some of these competences were unimaginable some years ago, before the crisis. The European level has only gained in relevance. Concerning the economic substance, it was the biggest institutional transformation since the creation of the Euro.
Enlargement extends the internal market. It opens trade and financial flows thus giving opportunities to firms in the EU and in the incoming countries.
A larger single market is more attractive to investors: Foreign direct investment from the rest of the world to the EU has doubled as a percentage of GDP since accession (from 15.2% of GDP in 2004 to 30.5% of GDP in 2012) with the enlarged EU attracting 20% of global FDI. The EU15 FDI stock in EU12 reached €564 billion in 2012, 357% up from 2007.
The Commission has taken a series of initiatives to guarantee free movement of people, goods, services and capital; to ensure choice and fair competition for consumers and companies; and to increase investment in infrastructure, able to bring down roaming charges even further; to bring fairer prices and rights for travellers and consumers; to agree ‑ after over thirty years of negotiation ‑ the European patent, which introduces savings in cost and time for researchers and businesses; and to improve the visibility of job opportunities across the EU.
In many ways Europe is as rich as it is because of the E.U. Starting with the European Coal and Steel Community, and later, the European Economic Community, the process of European integration dramatically reduced tariffs and other trade barriers between countries.
Multiple recent studies have confirmed this, one of which estimated that per-capita income in E.U. member states would be one fifth lower without European integration. Another 2008 paper found that expansions of the E.U. in 2004 and 2007 greatly increased immigration from poor to rich countries, which helped growth in the continent as a whole. Since the end of the Cold War in 1998, the EU proceeded to execute the most spectacular broadening in its history-nearly doubling in population and size. The EU then proceeded to complete its legal framework with the approval of a “constitutional treaty.”
Progress during a country’s accession process is assessed on the basis of a proven track record, i.e. what counts are the concrete results and impact of the reforms on the ground. Strong emphasis is put on economic governance, competitiveness and growth to help the countries meet the economic criteria and facilitate economic convergence. Technical and financial pre-accession assistance is targeted to support these two priorities.
Today, the enlargement policy continues to drive transformation and anchor stability in the countries of Southeast Europe aspiring to EU membership.
The pull and influence of the EU is helping them implement democratic and economic reforms, improve the rule of law and build bridges with their neighbours, thus overcoming the legacy of the past.
The European Commission has introduced an incentive-based approach of cooperation through the principle of ‘more for more’, meaning more reforms and progress leading to more support and closer ties. Through its European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the EU works with its southern and eastern neighbours to achieve the closest possible political association and the greatest possible degree of economic integration.
What is then, 10 years after the historic reunification of Europe, the impact and significance of the EU’s enlargement policy?
The current enlargement policy is based on strict but fair conditionality, with each country treated on its own merits.
This means each country moves towards the EU at a pace determined by its own performance in meeting the conditions and reaching EU standards. No shortcuts or easy fixes are allowed, as in the long run they would serve neither the countries aspiring to join, nor the EU itself.
The implementation of the new rules will require sometimes difficult and painful reforms nationally. Structural reforms will not bear fruit overnight, but reforms are the most effective and most sustainable economic stimulus in the long run.
The EU helps its neighbours with:economic integration and access to EU markets. building on common interests and values such as democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights, social cohesion, market economy principles and sustainable development. The rule of law is tackled early in the accession process and reforms are consistently followed up.
- Four strategic benefits of enlargement
(1) makes us more prosperous. A bigger Europe is a stronger Europe. In 2012, EU GDP was 23% of world GDP, amounting to €13 trillion. Accession benefited both those countries joining the EU and the established member states. As the EU expands so do opportunities for our companies, financial investors, consumers, tourists, students and property owners.
(2) helps improve the quality of people’s lives through integration and cooperation in areas like energy, transport, rule of law, migration, food safety, environmental protection and climate change. Enlargement helps us ensure that our own high standards are applied beyond our borders, which reduces the risks of EU citizens being affected for example by imported pollution.
(3) makes Europe a safer place. Through the accession process, the EU promotes democracy and fundamental freedoms and consolidates the rule of law across the aspirant countries, reducing the impact of cross-border crime. Current enlargement policy is reinforcing peace and stability in South East Europe and promoting recovery and reconciliation after the wars of the 1990s.
(4) gives the EU more influence in today’s multi-polar world: we need to continue projecting our values and interests – beyond our borders. An enlarged Union enhances the soft power needed to shape the world around us.