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This report is a brief informational overview of past, present and future actions towards a unified Europe.
The European Union consists of 15 countries. Under the Union these countries will have one currency, one set of laws and one government. After four decades there is still a slow road ahead.
A Parliament and Council govern the European Union. Citizens vote in elections every five years to elect their leaders.
European Economic Community
to European Union
In 1957 after World War II, the European Economic Community was formed, initially combining Europe s big industries. By 1991 the European Economic Community had grown into a fifteen-member Union. All included states agreed to the Maastricht Treaty and are now pushing for a single currency.
Problems with The Union
For many years Europe has been plagued by brutal wars over religion, borders, and even old pride. Some people still feel very strongly about these issues.
Countries of the Warsaw Pact are eager to join the Union, however Russians feel unwanted. They feel because of their communist backgrounds other countries do not trust them. Some people say the Union will have too much power. These people feel some laws and programs should be left up to the individual states.
Future of E.U.
Eleven member states are switching their currency to the Euro in January of 2002.
A day will come when all nations on our continent will form a European brotherhood… A day will come when we shall see … the United States of America and the United States of Europe, face to face, reaching out for each other across the seas.”
Victor Hugo (1848)
Europe is made up of more than 30 countries and even more distinct cultures; they are now trying to adjust to new economic systems throughout the world. Today there are new and big powers such as: N.A.F.T.A. and G.N.A.T.T. Europe is trying to advance it s old system called the European Economic Community (EEC) to become the European Union. One European Parliament rules the current membership of 15 countries. The current E.U. members listed in order of membership are: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Denmark, Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Austria, Finland, and Sweden. Under the E.U. each country will share one currency called the Euro dollar, one central banking system, and will be regulated with the same set of laws. In effect the countries of the E.U. will eventually become one. The way to a unified Europe is not an easy one; problems caused by countries unwilling to give up their sovereignties, and by countries afraid of the new Union continually slow progress.
The European Unions main institutions are the European Parliament, the European Commission, the European Court of Justice, the Council of Ministers and the Court of Auditors. The Council and the European Parliament are the main decision-taking bodies of the E.U. EU citizens elect the 626 members of the European Parliament every five years. Their individual governments nominate the president and the other 19 members of the European Commission, which has the sole right to initiate draft legislation.
The first initiatives to establish a Union of European countries were made during the aftermath of World War II. The Treaty of Rome was ratified in 1957, instituting the European Economic Community of six member states; including Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany. The founding members of the Community first combined their big industries. One of the first important accomplishments of the EEC was the establishment of common price levels for agricultural products in 1962. In 1968, internal tariffs (tariffs on trade between member nations) were eliminated and a common external tariff was fixed. Then they set about creating a single market in which goods, services, people and capital could move about as freely as within a single country. The process was gradually spanning 40 years and covering political and social as well as economic and trade aspects of nations. The Union was formally completed and the single market went into effect in January 1993. The Maastricht Treaty of the European Union was signed in the Dutch city of Maastricht in December of 1991 and took effect in November 1993. It strengthened the Community further, by preparing the way for economic and monetary union (EMU) and a single currency called the Euro. The Maastricht treaty also added common foreign and security police and cooperation on justice and police affairs. The term European Union is actually used to describe the wider Maastricht framework in which all these changes old and new take place.
The European Union is the name of the organization for the countries that have decided to co-operate on a great number of areas ranging from a single market economy, foreign policies, same sets of environmental laws, all the way to exchange of criminal records.
Some of the problems the E.U. is facing are sovereignty and unity. For thousands of years Europe has been torn time and again by wars, which were largely fueled by ethnic or religious differences. Today Europeans are asked to put aside their differences and become one. With nationalism still strong throughout Europe many people are strongly against the E.U. The E.U. causes another major problem for Europe and the rest of the world that is the expansion of the Union.
Countries from the former Warsaw Pact are eager to join the European Union but not Russia. Russia is opposing the move because of their xenophobic fears. Russia is afraid of the expansion of the E.U. into Eastern block countries. Russia currently feels unwanted by the European community. Russia is afraid that through the acceptance of the former Warsaw Pact countries, they will lose even more economic ground and one day might be greatly influenced by the countries it once controlled. The European Union is willing to accept the Warsaw Pact states into NATO and the E.U. given they meet the requirements. The European Union is also looking to bring the countries of Central and Eastern Europe into membership. This is strongly supported by public opinion in the existing states. So far however only Poland and Hungary have formally applied for membership to the Union.
The balance of power between the European Union and the member states is the main object of opposition against the Union. Many people feel the control of major issues should come closer to the people not further away. People feel choices on economic development, social programs, and criminal law should be left to the individual states.
The second point of conflict against the E.U. is the Euro dollar. Many people feel that by giving up their currency they are in fact giving up their sovereignty. This point of conflict is just becoming apparent since the plans for the Euro dollar have been postponed and seemed unrealistic. Currently the plan is to introduce the euro-denomination notes and coins by January 2002 in 11 of the 15 member states in the European Union.
The implementation of the E.U. has and will create many benefits for its citizens.
Individual citizens can live and work in the country of their choice, travel freely within the Union since border controls have virtually disappeared and there are more goods available to the people. The E.U. has also created a common European citizenship in addition to national citizenships.
Monetary Conversion Chart
USD United States 1 USD=1 USD
EUR Euroland 1 USD=1.126634 EUR
ATS Austria 1 USD=15.502817 ATS
AUD Australia 1 USD=1.968905 AUD
BEF Belgium 1 USD=45.448288 BEF
CAD Canada 1 USD=1.543488 CAD
CHF Switzerland 1 USD=1.731185 CHF
DEM Germany 1 USD=2.203504 DEM
ESP Spain 1 USD=187.456061 ESP
FRF France 1 USD=7.390232 FRF
IEP Ireland 1 USD=0.887296 IEP
ITL Italy 1 USD=2 181.466877 ITL
JPY Japan 1 USD=123.557909 JPY
GBP Great-Britain 1 USD=0.69795 GBP
Impact and Conclusion
I think in the future the E.U. will have a beneficial effect for all of Europe and America too. I believe the biggest impact will be economically, goods will be able to travel freely through all of these countries with little or no taxes or tariffs.
In conclusion, I believe the E.U. is going to be a good thing for the entire world. This will bring people closer and make prices less expensive for goods and services.
Bush, Gill & Stephen. The meaning of the Maastricht Treaty. Available: www.yahoo.com/European Union.
Cre`dit Mutuel, April 30, 2001. All About the Euro. Available: http://www.cmutuel.com.
Gwartney, Stroup, Sobel, 2000. Economics Private and Public Choices
International currency converter: 2001. European Central Bank. Available: http://fxtop.com.
Maastricht Treaty. Available: http://ps.ucdavis.edu/
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