The difficulty is the balance of both political and fiscal policies that can be agreed upon by all member states.
In this blog we focus on some of the successes that the EU has achieved since it was founded by the Treaty of Rome in 1957. The original treaty was signed by Belgium, France, Luxembourg, France, West Germany and the Netherlands.
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The European Union is a unique entity. All the members are sovereign states that have united their sovereign powers in some key areas of governance. Like any other governance structure, the EU has legislative and executive bodies and an independent judiciary. What are the general functions of the main EU institutions?
The EU Treaties Define the Powers of the Institutions
The powers of the EU institutions are defined in the Treaties, which have been agreed and ratified by the Member States. In policy areas not covered by the Treaties, EU countries are free to exercise their sovereign rights. The most important treaties are the Treaty of Rome (1957), which established the European Economic Community (EEC), and the Maastricht Treaty, which entered into force in 1993 (Treaty on European Union). Other treaties: Single European Act (1987), which provides for the creation of a European single market, the Treaties of Amsterdam (1999) and Nice (2003). The most recent is the Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1 December 2009 and amended some previous treaties.
The responsibility for policy-making and decision-making lies with the following institutions: the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, and the European Parliament. The fourth very important institution is the EUCO that comprises the heads of state or government of the EU member states. This institution sets policies and priorities but has no legislative power.
Council of the EU
The Council is the main decision-making body and therefore has the most power of all three institutions. It is the voice of the EU Member States, and ministers from all countries meet several times a month. The Council has legislative power that is shared with the European Parliament, and executive power that is shared with the European Commission. Ministers of the relevant ministries meet to discuss external relations, economic and financial affairs, transport, energy, agriculture, and other specific policies. It is usually called the Council of Ministers or simply the Council. Most decisions are taken by majority vote, but very important decisions on taxation, asylum, immigration and the like require all the votes.
The European Commission is independent of governments and represents the interests of the European Union as a whole. The European Commission has two main functions: to propose EU policies and legislation and to ensure that EU treaties and legislation are complied with. Sometimes this institution is called a guardian of contracts. A new Commission is appointed every five years so that its term of office is essentially the same as that of the European Parliament. The nominations of the Commissioners, one from each country, are examined by the European Parliament before approval.
The European Parliament
The European Parliament has had to fight for its right to represent the people. It was first directly elected by EU citizens in 1979. In the current Parliament has members from all EU countries. The main function is to adopt legislation proposed by the European Commission. Parliament has the power to dismiss the European Commission by a vote of no confidence.Read More
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With the turmoil caused by the Brexit, the previously undoubtable benefits the EU offers to all its members are put to question. Leaving such influential political and economic union must have been caused by grievous dissatisfaction regarding certain parts that all member states need to oblige to if they wish to remain a part of the EU. To understand where such and other similar events stem from, it is beneficial to have a good grasp on how the EU is built, what are some of the laws everyone needs to follow and what institutions supervise the proper functioning.
Goals and values
Understanding these two principal aspects of any organization is crucially important when it comes to comprehending and justifying the way its legal, political and economic structures are built. When it comes to the EU, promoting peace, security, justice and freedom are at the core. Established with the hopes of ending the horrors brought about by constant wars between neighbouring countries that resulted the Second World War, the EU was established with equality, democracy and human rights as the foundational values from which a just system would arise. Many years later, it is evident that the EU has, as much as it is possible, succeeded in ensuring peace among neighbours and prosperity on the continent.
Rule of law
Just like most countries in the union, the EU itself is governed based on the principles of representative democracy, meaning people from member states get to elect people to occupy certain positions at certain governing organs. What is more, the governance of the union is based entirely on legal agreements. Treaties, agreed upon by the EU countries in a voluntary and democratic way, provide foundation for upholding agreements, solving various questions and issues as well as making changes to the way certain processes are carried out.
There are many governing bodies responsible for the proper functioning of the EU. Among some of the most important are:
- The European Parliament. It is responsible for the law-making processes. People who occupy seats at the European Parliament are elected by the EU voters every five years. In short, it decides which new laws, international agreements and enlargements are put into place.
- The European Council. The leaders of the EU come together to decide upon the political agenda for the EU. Since due to the importance of these people and the matters considered there the European Council represents the highest level of political cooperation, the overall political direction and priorities are at stake there.
- The European Commission. It is an executive organ that is politically independent. It implements the Parliament’s and the Council’s decisions and drafts proposals for legislation of the EU.
- Court of Justice of the European Union. Makes sure that the laws of the EU are interpreted and implemented justly and appropriately, that member states and institutions abide the law.
- Among some organs of great significance are European Central Bank, European Investment Bank, European Economic and Social Committee and others.
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It is fair to say that nothing substantial comes with advantages only. Same applies to the EU. While when it comes to world economy, the political stability of the region and better cooperation of countries in general, the EU is a truly useful and beneficial structure, when it comes to individual gain and prosperity, it can have a different effect on member states depending on how powerful their economies or governing structures are. Thus, whenever the union starts causing issues for a country’s individual development and improvement, it is natural that the country can start actively considering exiting the EU and freeing itself from the EU’s treaties and regulations.
The states that were to join the EU starting 2004 were very insistent on a right to leave in case the EU membership proved to work against their development and pushed for that right eagerly in 2002-2003 European Convention. Article 50, which was designed to allow a member state to withdraw from the EU, was first drafted by Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, who was an influential Scottish diplomat. After thorough considerations, it became a part of the Treaty of Lisbon, put into effect in 2009.
According to Article 50, a member state needs to follow a number of pre-established steps in order to ensure smooth and successful transition for both the state and the union. The article allows any state to withdraw from the union with the possibility of rejoining it, in which case the process would be governed in accordance with Article 49. The state has to submit its request to withdraw to the European Council and the two parties take it from there and negotiate a withdrawal agreement, which involves the country’s further relationship with the union. If no agreement can be reached, the treaties of the EU would cease to apply to the withdrawing state after 2 years after its request had been submitted to the European Council. In that case, the EU treaties would simply cease to apply and there would be no structures put in place to ease the transition. When it comes to trade, it can be speculated that the countries would cooperate based on the tariffs established by World Trade Organization.
Past, Present and Future Withdrawals
French Algeria joined the European Communities as a French overseas department and left in 1962, after declaring independence. Greenland is another example of a territory that is not fully subjected to the governance of the EU. It withdrew in 1984, upon signing a special treaty (Greenland Treaty), which allowed it to leave European Economic Community but kept it under the rule of EU treaties. Brexit is a well-known, the first and the only invocation of Article 50 in the modern day. A leaving deal has not been negotiated yet and the UK for now remains a member state with all its legal obligations. Some countries that for various reasons have politically or otherwise motivated groups within them that are pushing to leave the EU include France, Greece, the Netherlands, Italy, Poland and others.Read More
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The European Union is a very powerful political and economic structure that as of now encompasses 28 countries. All member states differ in terms of their economic independence, political stability, historical background and religious convictions, however, all find a way to cooperate and work towards ensuring that the internal single market is functioning properly, that people have a right to move freely and that the union has strong standing in the world stage. Having considered this, it is natural that most countries in the region would desire to be a part of the EU and have its advantages at their disposal. However, it is evidently not enough to simply wish to be a member state, there are certain criteria that a country needs to meet in order to be eligible for consideration to become a part of the EU. They include certain political and economic standards as well as compliance with pre-established rules and laws of cooperation within the EU, which were defined in 1993 at the European Council in Copenhagen.
The Economic Criteria
One of the most important factors that must be in place if a country is to join the EU is presence of functioning market economy. In short, all decisions such as investment, distribution and production are governed by supply and demand. The type of economy can vary from free market and laissez-faire, where there is close to no intervention from the government, to highly interventionist forms, where government plays a major role in how the country’s economy functions. Regardless of the chose type, the economy has to function in a way that creates conditions for the country to establish strong economic standing and thus allow it to compete on an international level and function in the face of other market forces in the EU.
The Political Criteria
There are numerous political factors that need to be put in place and established before a country can request membership in the EU. It is fair to say that the most vital one, and the one that ensures the presence of others, is stable democracy. Any country that wishes to even have a shot at becoming a part of the EU must possess institutions that are designed to ensure democratic governing of the country. As such, the country is expected to protect and respect minorities and ensure their integration into the society – an aspect that is of crucial relevance in the face of the refugee crisis. In general, the country must display a capacity to protect its citizens’ human rights and ensure that the country is governed by law as opposed to physical force or decisions of powerful individuals.
The Cooperative Criteria
Any joining country must agree to certain rules, some of which, such as protection of intellectual or physical property and free movement, are a matter of common sense while some prove to be problematic. They include certain political, economic and monetary obligations, which ensure that the EU is functioning according to its aims and that it continuous to be a beneficial structure. They are difficult to list because most of them can be negotiated. For instance, how much a country is going to pay or receive from the EU is decided upon looking at the country’s current economic situation. This aspect, naturally, is problematic when it comes to states of strong economic standing and can be seen as one of the reasons why some countries, such as the Scandinavian region, do not belong to the EU.Read More
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C.S. Lewis eloquently stated, “hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny”. The quaint country of Romania suffered under political and social oppression for many years. Impoverished and feeling left behind by the world, there were small glimmers of hope that lived on. Adapting to the life of circumstance provided to them by a corrupt and communism system never broke the true spirit of Romanians. As the decades went by, a revolution of freedom and enlightenment started a new era for Romania. In terms of Europe, Romania is lower on the totem pole in regards of wealth and status on the societal ladder. Despite the hardships and adversity they faced, the Romanian People entered into the European Union almost two decades after the revolution. The EU helped them to gain their ground to meet the perquisites and guidelines of the Union.
The Modern Romania
Reaching a modern state, Romania has benefited from the umbrella of the European Union. Known for their Stem program, students have been able to expand their experiences. Businesses are growing alongside startup ventures who are able to take their concepts abroad. Opportunity in Romania brought the needed platform to exceed expectation. In fact, it has become the home base for entrepreneurs who excel in modern technologies. There is an inadvertent focus on mathematics and science across the area that allows for a cultivating environment for new tech savvy enterprises.
Small Romania Equals Big Opportunity
Most would never guess Romania now sits in the top tier of Europe’s fastest growing economies. In lieu of living in the spotlight, Romanians chose to quietly build up their country. The stigma of Romania across Europe still remained creating an obstacle for the country to gain immediate traction. When the EU lent a helping hand, it accelerated their growth and market. What makes Romania a prime location for new businesses is the ingenuity of the people with a fair yet low wage expectation. Nearly one-third of the technological teams are women giving a new perspective to incoming prospects.
Romania Reaches New Heights
The many accomplishments of Romania have bolstered both their reach and their rankings in the world. T Advancements within the country opened doors and welcomed the possibilities. Putting their technological interests in the forefront has given Romania a title of having the fastest internet in Europe and the sixth fastest speeds on a global scale. With the EU by their side, Romania has proudly acknowledged their progress. Working on a global outreach has been a slower moving transition. They are developing their innovative lines and taking their time. Their presence in the EU has continuously risen politically, socially and economically.
Years of war have taught the people of Romania to work within their means, have patience and understand their endeavors are not an overnight venture. In comparison to Western cultures, this may not sound conducive to a solid business plan. Preferring to borrow against to invest and gain return are a prominent cyclic behavior. Romania opts for a slow and steady approach while minimizing overall costs. Their method has proven to be tried and true as they excel to new heights in the EU.Read More
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Looking back into history, you will note periods of migration have occurred for centuries. There are several reasons individuals and families find themselves relocating across borders. Migrating is typically by choice or while under duress. Moving to another country is different now than it was hundreds of years ago. Modern political and social climates have presented the need to tighten borders and ensure proper entry into the country. The European Union is known for allowing a free flow of travel for members to EU Countries. This system is not designed for residents of outside regions to migrate at will. There has been an upsurge of activity seen by refugees fleeing their homes and seeking asylum in EU territories. The issue presented is not derived by intolerance as it is the illegal entries at random points and trafficking is the main concern.Read More
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The unprecedented growth experienced across the globe has impacted multiple dimensions of our future sustainability. Dynamic progression has increased our level of supply and demand that spans on a worldwide level. Modern advancements and technologies utilize our environments natural resources in terms of materials, research and physical locality. Due to the intake and output of depletion versus the emissions released into the atmosphere, we have seen an exponential decline within our biospheres. These concerns are a priority to several organizations and sectors including the European Union. In conjunction with their mission, they strive to contribute to the well being of humanity as a whole. In the EU, there is an expected focus on the specifications of their Union members and obligations. It also remains in their scope to be a considerable presence in movements that effect the world
The EU and Environmental Awareness
There are two distinct ways to initiate change and follow through across numerous platforms. If you look at it in terms of a city, there is a residential zone and a business zone. Each of these collaborate to create an efficient system. The same applies to Environmental structures and plans. Appealing to the people will differ from how you interact with businesses or corporations. The European Union has collectively gained traction in their endeavors by involving EU members with both a personal and an economical approach.
Taking the steps to maintain, correct and prevent the Environment feeds into a unified cycle. Individuals see lower costs and health risks while the surroundings replenish and retain their natural course. It’s a win-win for each perspective. In effort to attain these goals, the EU has stayed the course with consistency. Reaching out to the public to raise awareness on Environmental impacts, Members of the European Union host numerous events. Literature, groups and divisions are dedicated to the cause.
Environmental Systems in the EU
Businesses and manufacturers in the European Union are encouraged to innovatively move in a greener direction. Products and procedures are adapted to become Eco friendly. Laws and taxes restrict, prohibit and discourage the use of harmful or hazardous materials and behaviors. This leads to consciousness in everyday life. Recycling and reducing resources have inspired regulations to be enforced in effort to guarantee a cleaner lifestyle for families. The EU is involved in several Environmental areas. From deforestation threats to the water you bathe in, strategic significance is put into place.
The European Union is unable to set confinements for other regions; however they do encourage neighboring areas to join the efforts. Leading by example, the EU is known for having high standards. They are in hopes of cultivating efficient economies and communities that are Environmentally minded. The EU has hopes to restructure the past with hopes of the future. As other cultures follow in their Eco friendly footsteps, it will incite a genuine partnership among the intent of humanity and the World we live in.Read More
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We continue our blog on the importance of Interpol by looking at how it communicates with other member law enforcement agencies. Interpol has a secure communications network that can pass information around the world to another member agencies and allows them to communicate together.
This means that the vast collection of information at Interpol can be tapped into at airports, ports and border crossings. It also allows member states to access other countries criminal records which is a powerful tool in the battle to identify international criminals.
Interpol is a key player in the fight against terrorism, and it also is vital component if there is an international disaster, such as a plane crash, as it has a quick response incident team. This team specializes in identity and can assist in victim identification and the dissemination of information to other nations police forces. They are also capable of acting as a central command coordinating events between different agencies that may be involved.
It should be pointed out that Europol is an European based agency that operates in a similar fashion to Interpol but within the confines of the EEC. It is a fact that before new member states can join the EEC, they first become members of Europol.
Interpol as an Organization
Interpol is based in Lyons, and the headquarters is called the General Secretariat. It is the General Assembly that houses the representatives of all member states and this meets annually. This assembly votes on all the major decisions that Interpol gets involved in. Each state has one vote and the majority carries the vote. Interpol also has six regional offices and they are located in Thailand, Argentina, El Salvador, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, New York and Zimbabwe. As well, of course, as the main General Secretariat offices in Lyons, which gives Interpol global coverage.
Interpol’s Color Codes
Often police forces around the world are alerted to particular situations that may arise by Interpol. There is a system of international codes used by Interpol, that straight away alerts what kind of incident may be or are actually occurring.
- Orange – a threat from hidden weapons (e.g. letter bomb)
- Black – Unidentified bodies
- Yellow – Missing persons
- Green – Information that is general about international criminals
- Blue – Data on any persons connected with a crime, perhaps even witnesses
- Red – Identifies wanted persons
Interpol was formed in 1923, but back then it was known as the International Criminal Police Commission and it was based in Vienna. Most of its work was in connection with publishing an international wanted list. The Second World War interrupted their early foundation of the ICPC as the Nazis actually took control of it.
After the war, the organization was revamped and it moved to Paris. ICPC then changed its name to Interpol and in 1989 it moved its headquarters to Lyons. Due to the growth of international crime, Interpol saw rapid growth and development. There is no doubt that without a central body passing important information across borders the world would be a more precarious place.Read More
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The concluding part of our blog on how Brexit will affect the remaining states and the European Economic Community. We have seen that there are two different thoughts how the Union should go forward after Brexit, and the foreseen fear of the future dominance of Germany. In part two of this expose we look at how the United States of America will view the EU without the UK being a member.
There is a genuine fear from America that without the firm support of the United Kingdom supporting Angela Merkel in her policies towards Russia, that the EU might cow-tie to the soviets and relax sanctions.
The USA perceived the UK as a sort of bridge between continental Europe and themselves, and the UK was a pro-active supporter of American policies in the European Union’s thinking towards Russia, with Ukraine still a hot potato. The EU have several headaches at the moment with Brexit only being one. The Greek economy crisis has still not properly been resolved and the whole refugee situation is becoming a nightmare. The U.S is concerned that the Brexit talks which look like taking five years or so to handle will leave the EU vulnerable.
Perhaps the Canada Option is the Answer
One of the main reasons the UK opted out of the European Union was the free movement policy, Britain saw the growing refugee problem in Continental Europe and the increase of terrorist attacks due to the relaxing of border controls.
In effect the citizens of Britain wanted their borders more secure, but the EU is stating that if the UK want to retain a single market advantage they must adhere to the free movement policy. So, there is an inherent impasse. One option out of this impasse would be the Canada Option, meaning a simple free trade agreement, which would give limited access to the UK to the single market. This would be disastrous to the City of London, as this agreement would not allow free business access to the EU unless it was regulated by a third body. Already London is seeing a number of foreign banks leaving and relocating to other European states.
It is in the EU’s interests that the UK remains economically close as it is also a massive market to many European States to sell into. But the European bureaucrats will not negotiate on core principles, and one of them is the free movement of labor, which is the fundamental difference between the two sides. Brexit is not good news for both the UK and the European Union, it was an emotional decision made by the British public in a referendum that was fueled by terrorist attacks and the wave of refugees making their way to the shores of the UK.
The biggest problem for the UK is that the EU is not likely to be lenient in any negotiations, in fact the very reverse, as they will want to make an example of them to deter other states with the same ambitions. But the fallout for the Union may also be just as unpleasant, as a power struggle will be definitely on the cards.Read More
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It has been widely reported and documented about the imminent departure of the UK from the European Union, it is named Brexit after the UK as a nation made their voices heard in a referendum. There is no doubt that Brexit is a highly momentous event in the history of Europe and the biggest threat to the European Union since its inception. Many reasons have been cited why the UK voted as they did, and it will have major repercussions for the British nation in the foreseeable future.
But how will it impact the other nations that remain in the EU? Will it mean that it will split and fall apart?
The Immediate Impact
It does not look that there are a number of other countries queuing up to join the UK in a move out of the EU. But there are two conflicting approaches to how the EU should move forward in the future.
- Further Integration – one of the movements is in favor of more integration and this is spearheaded by Jean-Claude Junker the president of the European Commission.
- Away from more centralization – the European Council president Donald Tusk believes that more central control would be to the detriment of the citizens of the EU.
One side is advocating extra powers will be better for the strength of the EU, and the other stating that a more faceless and corporate EU will lose sight of what the individual citizens really want.
How the EU will Respond
The EU has related to the UK exactly what is required for their exit, but is now pondering how to respond to the after effects of the second largest economy leaving the Union. The best bet is that Junker’s pragmatism and federalism will rule the day, and the EU fears no present risk of dissolution. The current leaders of Europe will have to get together and work how to reform the European Union with new laws and a revision of the budgets laid down. When this happens the leader’s will have to accept these laws that tackle difficult policies that the Union faces such as the refugee problem.
EU Fear of Germany
With the withdrawal of the second most powerful state there is a fear that nobody has the power to check the dominance of Germany. On all major issues such as the war in Ukraine, and the refugee crisis it has been Germany who has marched to the front on the response by the EU.
The natural fear of Euro politicians in Paris, Rome and Warsaw is that Germany will dominate in all things concerned with the EU, and there is a justified horror at the prospect of Brexit. In turn Germany is also afraid of Brexit and how the other nations will consider them as a domineering threat, there are those in Germany that believe that there will be other nations gathering together to act as an alliance against them.
In part two of this expose on the effects of Brexit on the rest of the EU, we will consider how the United States view the situation and how that view will affect the EU.Read More
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