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The European Union (EU) is an organisation that is well celebrated for the relative success that it has had at integrating European Nation, into one identity under one Union. The European Union is an organisation that has regional integrated 28 European countries together under one union. These 28 countries have made economic agreements and political alignments in order to ensure there secure their interests and provide stability in their region [Eur15]. This essay will investigate how successful the EU has been at establishing a European identity in spheres of economic and social cohesions, multiculturalism, and governance.
The European Union’s identity in economics is quite profound due to the influence that the organisation has had on the region throughout its history. The inception of the EU through the formation of the European Coal and steel community (ECSC), was a clear display of the Eu’s vision to improve the economy for a region recovering from, but more importantly it was a sign of the organisation using the power (be it economical) to improve social cohesion[Eur51].
Dick Stanley defines Social cohesion as the willingness of members of a society to cooperate with each other in order to survive and prosper[Wha03]. The ECSC was an a range of economical and governance agreements that regional integrated the Belgium, German, French, Italian, Luxembourgian and Netherlands, State’s and interest together[Ian142]. The ECS goal was crucial to economic power of the region, as it brought about the formation of the common market that strengthens trade and competition[Eur51].
A common market between member states; this refers to a group of Nations who are promoting areas, duty free trade free-moment of people. The formation of this community was significant, as it successfully integrated two industries (coal and steel) that were critical to economic and political power of Germany and France. The integration of these two nations was crucial to the regions strength and longevity, as of three major conflicts and wars in Europe, France and Germany were Nation’s that central, and bitter advisories[Eur10]. The teeing these two economic sectors would strengthen the social cohesion of the European region, as both countries would be assured that neither could mobilise for war without the other knowing, and that war itself would destabilise both economies[Eur10]. The community was important in opening more dynamic dialogues between Germany, this was needed to prevent failures from the past such as the Treaty Versailles: where Germany was politically and economically isolated from the international community, from repeating itself[Eur10]. The strengthening of the Eu’s economic identity continued through agreement such as the Robert Schuman and The Treaty of Maastricht. The Schuman agreement made steps to share sovereignty and authority been Membership, and open up the membership to the wider Europe to this organisation.
The Treaty of Maastricht would confirm and establish the sharing of sovereignty, with the treaty establish three European Union organised separate branches: these are the: the European Communities (EC), Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters (JHA)[Eur101].These agreements lead the EU to forming in a Multilevel governance manor, which is significant to the way the EU’s economy, and governance works. Multi-level governance refers to the sharing of government duties and National sovereignty, into different tiers of governments who specialise on a specific task; such as forming regulations and forming policy[MUL09). Economically this treaty was significant as it signified an expansion on the European Union’s budget, and the formation of the European Economic and Monterey Union[Eur10]. A significant aspect of the EU’s economic governance identity is the European Union’s budget. The EU has budget of over €129bn, which is split up into three: Common Agricultural Policy, the Cohesion policy and The EU’s civil administration cost[Eur11].
The way in which these funds are spent fall to European Parliament, and the responsibility to ensure these funds are not embezzled falls to the European Commission and the European Court of Justice. The European Monterey union (EMF) is responsible for the coordination of economic and fiscal policies, a common monetary policy, and a common currency, the euro[Eur11]. The Euro is the common currency for European Union, however not all members use it, for example the UK still uses the Pound Sterling’s[Aff07). The Euro was significant in improving the free market of the region, as one currency would mean less exchange fees for companies as they no longer had to worry about the exchange rate changing due to their domination dropping in value[Aff07). The Euro was significant to Nations as well, as the currency was stabile due to large currency zone of the EU. The EMF was also responsible for providing economic aid to countries in need; this was displayed in aftermaths of the Global finical crisis when EU and the EMU were responsible for rebuilding the failing economies of member states[Que10]. These were seen through set up of bailout measures for the banking system and investments to rebuild the economy. The nations of the EMU agree to 100 billion Euro bail out of the Spanish banks, this was done in order to secure the banks and renew costumer’s confidence in the banks[JAN12].
The European Union would further this rebuilding of Spain through the Cohesion policy. The Cohesion policy aim is important as it aims to improve employment, innovation, education social inclusion, and climate/energy. The policy aims to do this by improving the EU communication with the States with below average GDP, increase investment in these nations through the Cohesion Fund, invest in people who aim to improve employment and education conditions through European Social Fund) and increase the region economic strength by creating jobs and competition[Eur11]. An example of when the European Union has used their economic strength to strengthen the identity of the European Union is Spain’s recovery from their economic crisis. The European Union allocated 35 Billion dollars to Spain over a 9 year period (2007-2013), through funds such as Cohesion fund and the Convergence Objective (€3.5 billion from the Cohesion Fund)[Eur13]. The funds where split up into Research and development, transport, the management and distribution of water and waste water.
One of the high profile projects from the EU’s funds allocated to transport was a high speed- train between Barcelona, Madrid and the Spanish French border[Eur13]. This project is important at keeping Spain part of the identity of EU, as the high speed train emotionally and physically connects Spain to Europe, and the construction of the train network creates jobs and prevents Spanish citizens from disenfranchised the EU[Eur13]. The identity that the EU has formed in multiculturalism and social cohesion is a key aspect to the EU as an organisation. Multiculturalism refers to is the co-existence of diverse cultures, where culture includes racial, religious, or cultural groups and is established ways to communicate and coexist together (IFL15]. This is seen in the EU’s treaty for the enlargement of the European Union (Treaty of Amsterdam): where states that the expansion of the EU will be done on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for Human rights and fundamental freedoms[Eur10]. The EU would also go on to state that all member state must ensure the elimination of inequalities, and promote equality, between men and women, and minorities[Eur10].
EU displays a desire to create a multiculturalist organisation is seen in their desire to be inclusive of all creed of people regardless of their beliefs and or ethnic origins, this desire is seen in the implementation of Diversity & Non-discrimination in the European Commission’s Directorate. The European programme for Employment and Social Solidarity is a report that investigated (2007-2013) techniques of improving social inclusion of all minorities in the EU States[Eur131]. The report highlighted that improving the inclusion of the minorities in EU decision and policymaking was a necessary step to reduce discrimination. The report also highlighted that improving the education system, medical system in these areas improved the social cohesion of the citizens (such as assisting with parliamentary voting enrolment)[Eur131]. The organisation has made movements in other aspects of the society to increase the social cohesion, one of which was to reduce the gender pay gap and to promote pay [Eur131].
The European Union’s as an image of a strong organisation has come under much scrutiny in recent years, thanks much to the way the Organisation negligently lead the organisation to Global Finical crisis and the way they have badly handled it. The EU’s economic identity has been questioned as the EMU were culpable in bringing the regions currency and market into finical disrupted due to their insufficient research of debt of member nations and newly joining nations and their inability to tackle a debt driven economy[QUA09]. Thus, inability to correctly obtain the financial records was seen with the inclusion of Greece to the European Union in 2000. Greece joined the EU with a debt of $131 billon (USA), or 103.7% of their gross domestic product, which exceeded the EU’s limits of 60%[HUN15]. The EU would further its failings economically by allowing Greece to continuously borrow money at reduced rate, this lack of economic oversight resulted in the Eu’s economy to be saturated by debt and help led to Global finical crisis and recession in Europe[HUN15].
This crisis would also bring into question the European Union’s social cohesiveness due to the way the Greek Government was handled. This is evident in the way European Commission (and other partners) peddled austerity measures to Greek population that were not representative of Greek economic situation[HUN15]. This lack of unity between Greece and the EU would be seen with Germany’s tough stance of not supporting further Greek bailout, unless Germany had more control of the economy[Dai12]. Former Czech Republic President Václav Klau questioned the unity of the EU and the democratic nature of the EU, stating that Germany has far too much influence over the EU, and that the EU ignores smaller states[Cze14]. The EU further displays its lack of unity is displayed with EU considering kicking out Greece from the Eurozone. This EU has also displayed an inability to achieve cohesion in their failure to reduce the gender pay gap (between 2000-2010), the pay gap in places such as UK had actually increased and worsened[Joh151].
This lack of unity is further displayed in the way that UK is activity considering its option of leaving the Union, economists say the UK need to gather more control back on aspects of their governing or it will be economically beneficial for them to leave[Jam15]. The European Union has achieved relatively strong identity in aspects of spheres of economic and social cohesions, multiculturalism, and governance. For the Union to ensure that this a legacy that they have left in the place of European region and it is not mere blip in history then they need to tackles issues such as the Greek’s debt issue more efficiently, and not all the situation drag along like it has.
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