The European politics can be traced back to the historic political, economic and military events in the continent. Since the end of the World War II, fall of iron curtain as well as the collapse of the communists’ states Eastern Block, the integration in this continent is a process of political, economic, legal, cultural and social integration between the member states of Europe. The geographical location of France, Germany and Italy influenced them to spearhead the agreement between the member states.
It was the French foreign Minister Robert Schuman who proposed the formation of ECSC in May 9th, 1950 as a means of preventing further war between Germany and France. As a prime Minister and foreign Minister, Schuman became very instrumental when he personally influences the change of French policy away from Gaullist Policy of permanent occupation of German’s Ruhr and Saar. This he did even though his efforts were bitterly opposed by the ultra-nationalist, communists, and Gaullist.
With Schuman’s guiding principles being moral and not power politics of domination, the French Assembly voted in favor of his policy which was to integrate Germany into a community. Across Germany on the other hand, despite the opposition from the Social Democratic Party of Germany led by Kurt Schumacher, Schuman’s proposal got support from new generation of younger leaders in Germany like the Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia, coal and steel producing Province.
Other younger members of the party like Carlo Schmid were also in favor of the community (Michael O ‘Neill, 1996) Its establishment in the year 1951 by the treaty of Paris saw the signing by not only France, West Germany and Italy but also by other three Benelux states of Belgium, Luxembourg and Netherlands. However in 1967, all the institutions of the ECSC were merged with that of European Economic Community. With such efforts of the three major players of the ECSC, they signed the Single European Act in 1957, Treaty of Rome.
The main objective of this Act was to establish a single market by 31 December 1992. Consequently, these events were followed by the signing Maastricht Treaty (Treaty of European Union) on 7 February 1992 in Maastricht, Netherlands. Its signing led to the creation of Euro and the pillar structure of the European Union. This was a result of a desire by the member countries to extend the European Economic Community to such areas as foreign policy, criminal justice, military as well as judicial cooperation (Claudio M. 1997) 2.
With an aim of establishing a single market by 31 December 1992, the signing of Maastricht Treaty came on 17 February, 1986 in Luxembourg (Michael O ‘Neill, 1996) However, a big gap existed when a greater integration of EC/EU was being pushed for. The difference was between a comparatively concrete and ambitious economic provision Vs the more cautious political integration. There was a discontent among European Community members in the 1980s. The discontent was as a result of the de facto lack of trade between the member countries.
The United Kingdom for example had misgivings over some of the political integration proposals. The UK considered some areas too sensitive to be managed by the proposed supra-national of the European Economic Community. Hence the Maastricht Treaty led to the creation of the Euro that created the three pillar structures of the European Union i. e. European Community Pillars, The Common Foreign and Security Policy pillar, and the Justice and Home Affairs Pillar.
However, after several deliberations, the business and political leaders had the desire to harmonize the laws between the member countries that would allow the free trade as well as resolve policy discrepancies. This called for a compromise where without renaming the EEC As the European Union, the treaty was agreed to establish a legally separate European Union that comprised the renamed European Economic Community, the intergovernmental policy areas of foreign policy, military, criminal justice and judicial cooperation.
This structure effectively limited the powers of the European Commission, the European parliament and the European Court of justice that they could not influence the intergovernmental policy areas (Claudio M. 1997) 3. The Franco- German relationship has been overriding motor of the European Project. Analysts argue that it has been the driven by interlocking machinery of official meetings, consultations, and diplomatic supports of each other between these two former enemies.
Schuman Declaration of May 9, 1950, that was later known as Europe Day, was then first indications by France of their interest to share and grow sovereignity in a Supra-national Community. The decision was reached after two cabinet meetings based on a text by Foreign Ministry lawyer Paul Reuter. The text laid a plan for European Community members to pool their resources of coal and steel together in a common market. The French foreign minister Robert Schuman proposed the ECSC on May 9. 1950 as a way of preventing further war between the two countries.
Hence the Europe’s first ever Supra-national community was officially established in 1951 by the Treaty of France that was signed by France and West Germany, and other countries like Italy and Belgium. Some other major reasons why the Minister proposed this union were; – They saw war as an expensive venture and therefore union was to make war not only unthinkable but make it materially impossible. Pooling the resources of the two historic enemies was seen as more than just symbolic – They also wanted to create common market for their coal and steel as a way of strengthening their economic tiesto boost economic ties and growth
4. Many scholars and people alike have described The Union of the various European States under the umbrella body of the European Union as either a super naturalist/ federalist’s project or as just a pure factionalist/ neofunctionalist’s projects. The super naturalism/ federalism is a political ideology or philosophy where a group of members are bound together with a governing representative as the head. It can also be used to describe a system of government where sovereignty is divided constitutionally between a central governing authority and constituent political units like provinces or states.
The proponents of this ideology in Europe have been described as federalist in their effort to get a strong federal government for the European Union members. The term can also be used to refer to favoring of weaker provincial governments. In the federal states like Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, the term stronger federation may mean a situation where sub nationals wield more powers than the central government, that is, it does not imply a stronger central government.
This is sometimes the basis in which some proponents of the stronger federalism in the European Union argue their case (Claudio M. 1997) On the other hand, pure functionalism is a political ideology where individuals are interested in political power taking its natural course and not forcing regional integrations. Such pure functionalists argue that regional political integrations would naturally limit the humanity’s search for a viable political community and term it a dangerous ideology that can interfere with the natural law of politics.
Neo functionalism concept carries with it the concept of positive spill over effect concept where integration of states in one economic sector can quickly bring about strong incentives for integration on more sectors. It also has the concept of transfer in domestic allegiance which means pluralistic society within the relevant states. The proponents of this ideology claim that as the integration take shape the interest groups and associations will transfer their allegiance away from their national institutions to the supranational European institutions ( Michael O ‘Neill, 1996).
On the other hand, the intergovernmental is another theory of political integration that rejects the idea of neo functionalism. Its proponents suggests that governments to control the speed and level of European integration. This theory reject the concept of spill over effect that neo functionalism proposes. However these ideologies all support the concept political integration in essence. The only difference is the structure of the integration and the belief of the outcome of such integration.
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