European Union as an international organization Essay
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The European Union cannot be an international organization and it is not a domestic political system. It is a new and unique trend in governance, which transcends the nation – state structure. In the EU the nation – state governments are drifting away from both sub national and supranational systems. This in turn raises questions about the EU’s capacity to govern and its democratic legitimacy. The European Union is composed of democratic nations that aim to achieve peace and prosperity. It is not a nation – state but an international organization with unique features (Europeans united in diversity).
However, the events that took place in the period from 1960 to 1970 changed the thinking of federalism by the people. The then French president, Charles de Gaulle was very much interested in nation – state structure in the Europe. However, he rejected the federalist system. Subsequently, the European Council was created in order to take up the matters of the Union with administrative powers. Thus there is no centralized power in the European Union and it was distributed between the primary entities, which do not fall within parliamentary control (Europeans united in diversity).
The significant characteristic of the EU is that the decisions taken at the European level are ratified by its Member States in order to establish EU level common institutions, by surrendering their sovereignty on certain specific issues. There is unity in diversity in Europe where there persists a multitude of different traditions and languages. Respecting these shared values, the EU promotes cooperation among the people of Europe and it protects the interests of the individual citizens of Europe.
While respecting the sentiments of European citizens, the EU promotes cooperation with external nations without comprising its solidarity and in a spirit of tolerance (Europeans united in diversity). The European Union is a distinct entity. It is not a federation like the United States. Moreover, it is not a simple form of structure as it entails inter – governmental coordination and cooperation. The European Union is composed of a number of Member States. These Member States have combined their individual sovereignty and adopted a system of shared governance, in order to achieve unity and international importance.
Nevertheless, as it is noteworthy to mention, these Member States did not relinquish their national sovereignty (McCormick). Further, there is a delegation of powers by the agencies of the European Union, in areas of joint interests, upon which the EU can impose its democratic authority for the benefit of Member States. Thus the European Union is to some extent an intergovernmental organization and to some extent it is a supranational organization. The supranational aspects of the EU include economic policy, social policy, immigration policy and education.
The intergovernmental aspects comprises of mutual cooperation between the member states in order to formulate a common foreign policy and security policy (McCormick). The intergovernmental organizations like the United Nations are in general constituted by several states in order to promote voluntary cooperation and coordination amongst them (McCormick). The Member States of such an organization retain their independence and the decisions and agreements taken are not enforceable. The Member States of the European Union do not surrender their sovereignty to it.
However, in the supranational organization, Member States are required to surrender their sovereignty in certain key areas to the governing body of the supranational organization (McCormick). Moreover, the Member States are also required to comply with the decisions taken at the supranational level. The Courts would initiate penal actions for violations by the member states. The European Union has both the characteristics of an intergovernmental organization and supranational government. An international organization is an entity which develops voluntary cooperation and coordination among its members (McCormick).
Hence the European Union cannot be a truly typical international organization. The normal features and definition of an international organization is narrow in its scope. Therefore, the European Union cannot be compared to an ordinary international organization. The European Union is founded by an international treaty like any other international organization. However, it cannot be construed to be a proper international organization and a very close description is that it is not a state, nor a nation – state; but a characterization of sui generis (Vuorinen).
The fundamental characteristic that differentiates the European Union from other international organizations is that it attempts to change the Member States. Integration is the process that brings about the coalescing of state structures. The European Union has several structures combined together some of these structures represent the characteristics of a federal state while other structures resemble an international organization. In the process of evolution, the EU had gone beyond an association of states and became an economic and political union.
However, the EU is not a federal state (Vuorinen). The emergence of the European Community was the result of federalist views. Its drafters were of the opinion that federalism would be the solution to the persistent problem of war in Europe. Thus their main objective was to establish a federal state. These efforts resulted in the formulation of the European Coal and Steel Community in the year 1951, which created a common market for the coal and steel industries of that period.
The objective of this institution was to combine the important and strategic resources of Europe. Subsequently in 1957 The Treaty of Rome established the European Economic Community or EEC and the European Atomic Energy Commission or Euratom (Vuorinen). The federalist creation of the Union was based upon the three important pillars of the EU, namely, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice. These branches of the EU, which do not pertain to any single member state of the Union, aim to promote the common European policy.
The federal structure could have operated with a sufficient degree of democracy (Vuorinen). The European Union has been described as an international organization and with the adoption of a constitution it can become a supranational organization in addition to an intergovernmental organization. The Maastricht Treaty of the year 1993 established two types of institutionalized cooperation in the European Community, the Common Foreign and Security Policy or CFSP and cooperation on justice and international issues.
Since, the extant system in respect of functioning of the EU involves the surrender of sovereignty by states to the EU in certain areas and the dependence of the member states on intergovernmental cooperation in other areas, it can be describes as a hybrid system (European Union). Issues of international interests of the EU are regulated by the Integration Ministry; some of these issues encompass the cooperation of EU, Nordic legislation and cooperation with the United Nation’s agencies.
Extension of such cooperation is frequent to the United Nations Refugee Agency or the UNHCR, the Council of Europe, Intergovernmental Consultations or IGC and the International Organization for Migration or the IOM (The Ministry of Refugee, Immigration and Integration Affairs). Furthermore, the Ministry negotiates with many foreign nations on issues relating to repatriation agreements, other forms of practical cooperation as well as mutual exchange of information.
The International Division of the Integration Ministry governs international cooperation and participates in meeting and makes the necessary preparations for meetings and discussions that involve other nations. This Division also prepares meetings in Denmark with regard to issues relating to asylum and immigration. It also makes the necessary preparations for EU casework in national procedure (The Ministry of Refugee, Immigration and Integration Affairs). The destruction and loss of a large number of human lives in the Second World War resulted in European integration, which was expected to put a stop to such killing and destruction.
In the year 1950, Robert Schuman, the French Foreign Minister proposed the idea of European integration. The present European Union consists of five institutions with specific goals. These are the European Parliament, which is elected by the citizens of the Member States; the Council of the European Union, which represents the governments of the Member States; the European Commission, which is the executive branch of the EU; the European Court of Justice, which ensures compliance with the EU law by the Member States and the Court of Auditors, which controls and ensures efficient and legal management of the EU budget (The European Union).
There are other important agencies, which support these five driving forces of the European Union. They are, the European Economic and Social Committee, which reflects the opinions of the civil society on issues pertaining to economic and social interests; the Committee of the Regions, which is responsible for monetary policies and regulates the euro; the European Ombudsman, which deals with the complaints of individuals in case of breach of law or failure of proper administration by any EU institution or agency and the European Investment Bank, which promotes the objectives of the EU by providing financial support to investment projects.
In addition, there are several other institutions to facilitate the smooth functioning of the EU (The European Union). The functionality of the EU is based on the Treaties, which were ratified by the Member States. In the beginning there were only six nations in the EU and these were Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. In 1973 Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom became members of the European Union and subsequently, in 1981 Greece became a member. In the year 1986 Spain and Portugal and in the year 1995 Austria, Finland and Sweden joined the European Union.
In the year 2004 the largest expansion of the European Union took place with ten new countries being permitted to become members of the European Union (The European Union). In the beginning, much attention was bestowed on providing cooperation in the areas of trade and economy. Subsequently, the EU became the guardian of the Member States and commenced to deal with a wide range of issues pertaining to all aspects of society and humans. The EU protects the rights of individuals, ensures freedom, security and justice, employment, regional development and environmental protection.
For more than fifty years the EU has been catering to the needs of its member states in respect of stability, peace and prosperity. It strived hard to enhance the standard of living of its citizens. It created a single European market, launched the euro or the single European currency and fortified the European Union’s stance on the international platform (The European Union). The European Union plays an important role in the field of international trade. It provides advantageous norms for trade to a large number of developing countries.
The EU withdraws the preferential business terms from a country that violates these norms, while dealing with any member state of the EU. Moreover, the EU is the largest single donor of humanitarian and development aid in the world. The financial aid supplied by the EU and its member states comprises sixty percent of the total aid to the world. The EU also provides assistance for reconstructing nations ravaged by war and its aid projects are significant in promoting peace among warring nations and in settling disputes. The foreign assistance programs of the EU are remarkable in respect of the benefits offered to refugees of war and famine.
Economic integration in the EU has become a role model for many upcoming trade blocs, which have consequently, sought the support of the EU in their financial reforms. Thus, the EU is an economic giant and a superpower. As a matter of fact, the EU influences the economic activities and policies of most nations of the world and plays a key role in the global economy and occupies the first rank in this area (The Rationale for Studying the Outcomes of European Foreign Policy Activity). In the international arena the EU had evolved as a superpower from its very inception.
It underwent considerable modifications and later on it expanded itself by establishing common institutions and foreign policy requirements. In 1958, the Rome Treaty founded the European Community and established a legal pedestal on which the EU forged ahead to influence international trade activities, foreign aid programs and diplomatic terms with countries that were not its members. In 1970, the European Political Cooperation was established to facilitate governments to initiate dialogue and promote mutual cooperation with respect to foreign policy matters.
In 1987, the Single European Act was developed. In 1993, the EU was institutionalized by the Treaty. The EU is supported by three pillars, the first is the European Community, the second is the New Common Foreign and Security Policy and the third pillar is comprised of by the policies with regard to anticrime and police cooperation (The Rationale for Studying the Outcomes of European Foreign Policy Activity). In 1998, the Treaty of Amsterdam had modified the Treaty of European Union.
It brought about High Representation for the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The European Security and Defense Identity was supplanted by the European Security and Defense Policy in 1999. This change facilitated the EU to establish a rapid deployment force to maintain peace in the region. The Common Foreign and Security Policy is a set of objectives, procedures and devices formulated to encourage sophisticated joint actions and positions in foreign policy. The CFSP also formed the link between joint actions and civilian foreign policy of the EC.
These developments transformed the EU into an international organization in the areas of commerce, trade, aid and diplomatic relations. Moreover, the European Foreign Policy addresses civilian actions, policies, relations, commitments and choices of the EU in international politics (The Rationale for Studying the Outcomes of European Foreign Policy Activity). The nature of the EFP controls the competence of the organs of the EU, so as to influence matters pertaining to international politics. As an international actor the EU enjoys a special status in international politics.
However, there is still some doubt regarding the nature of the EU because it has no polity and because it is not a state or a territory with fixed borders. There are an array of tests that measure the end results of the foreign policy and decision – making power of the EU. However the scope of the CFSP was not utilized to the fullest extent by the EU. The end results achieved through this instrument clearly establish the prominence and effective role of the EU as an international actor in international politics (The Rationale for Studying the Outcomes of European Foreign Policy Activity).