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Europe has been on an integration move since the end of the Second World

Introduction

Europe has been on an integration move since the end of the Second World War. The first steps towards this integration happened in the immediate post war period with the celebrated Schuman Plan, which lay the foundation for the first real supra-structure in the world, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). The European integration continued through the decades with the establishment of the European Economic Community (ECC) and the European Union (EU).

In the recent period, the EU has come under intense questioning with the economic crisis in Europe starting 2007 (Kenealy, Peterson, & Corbett, 2016). The recent Brexit vote has put further questions on the future of the EU.

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European Coal and Steel Community

The European integration process began in the 1950s. The six founding members were still mindful of the bad experiences during the Second World War and its aftermath (Cini & Borragán, 2016, p. 2). The most important guiding factor at this point in time was the need to maintain peace and security as the strong anti-war sentiment gripped Europe. Two world wars within the space of little over two decades had also dented the economic stability of Europe. The integration calls of the post war period have to be understood in the context of the anti-war sentiment at the time as well as the need for economic security.

The basic motivation behind the establishment of the ECSC was the creation of a common market for coal and steel (Alter & Steinberg, 2007). The Schuman Plan sowed the seeds of the ECSC. However, the Schuman Plan is also reflective of the rivalry between France and Germany at the time. The chief architects of the Schuman Plan, Jean Monet and French foreign minister, Robert Schuman, were French, and the Plan was basically designed to “alleviate concerns that Germany’s dominance in coal and steel could be used to harm European reconstruction efforts or to build another war machine” (Alter & Steinberg, 2007, p. 2). The French were particularly concerned that Germany should not pose a threat to France, economically as well as from the security point of view (Glockner & Rittberger, 2012).

European Economic Community

Alan Milward has explained the birth of the EEC in economic terms, as opposed to other accounts that focus on the political issues involved in the establishment of the EEC. The Dutch Beyen Plan is identified as the major starting point for the EEC (Ludlow, 2009, p. 19). A major impetus for the establishment of the EEC came from France because France was at the time focussed on economic development, for which trade and economic liberalisation was sought by the French politicians (Ludlow, 2009). The Dutch Plan was itself based on the premise that it was necessary to prevent European protectionism. The Treaty of Rome was primarily the result of the interests of France, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, Italy, and the Netherlands (Ludlow, 2009). These are the six countries that are the founders of the Treaty of Rome, which came into existence on 25th March 1957.

Economic union

The European Union (EU) was established under the Maastricht treaty on 1 November 1993. Under the Maastricht treaty, the idea of a European citizenship was laid down. Treaty of Lisbon came into force in 2009 and under this treaty the European Economic supra-structures came under the European Union (Kenealy, Peterson, & Corbett, 2016, p. 5). The integration can be explained or summarised in the following manner. The Maastricht Treaty created the European Union and the Lisbon Treaty of 2009 formally merged the three pillars of the European Community into a single entity (Kenealy et al, 2015, p.4). The unique aspect of the EU, as compared to other regional arrangements is that institutions established within the EU share competence with national counterparts in some areas and enjoy exclusive competence with others (Jones et al, 2012).

Ludlow (2009) says that the flexibility of the core institutional structure under the Treaty of Rome is one of the crucial factors responsible for its longevity. As the EEC developed and expanded other countries gained from the advantages of liberalised economic and trade relations (Cini & Borragán, 2016). In fact, by the 1980s, EEC (now known as EC) had a share of more than one fifth of the world trade, thanks to its liberalisation (Ludlow, 2009). By 1999, Europe had stabilised its exchange rates under the common European currency, ‘Euro’, another first in the world (Ludlow, 2009).

Economic union

The European Union (EU) was established under the Maastricht treaty on 1 November 1993. Under the Maastricht treaty, the idea of a European citizenship was laid down. Treaty of Lisbon came into force in 2009 and under this treaty the European Economic supra-structures came under the European Union (Kenealy, Peterson, & Corbett, 2016, p. 5). The integration can be explained or summarised in the following manner. The Maastricht Treaty created the European Union and the Lisbon Treaty of 2009 formally merged the three pillars of the European Community into a single entity (Kenealy et al, 2015, p.4). The unique aspect of the EU, as compared to other regional arrangements is that institutions established within the EU share competence with national counterparts in some areas and enjoy exclusive competence with others (Jones et al, 2012).

EU law

EU law is supreme and it overrides domestic legislation (Flaminio Costa v ENEL (1964) Case 6/64, 1964). This has been a problem to some extent in the UK, where the principle of parliamentary sovereignty means that parliamentary law is supreme. The EU law includes commercial laws, human rights (European Convention of Human Rights), shipping laws, etc. There are a number of Directives that are issued by the EU.

Advantages/disadvantages of the EU

Since 2007, the beginning of the financial crisis has led to some questioning the continued existence of the European Union. The Eurozone crisis in 2010 further raised the questions on EU’s continued existence (Cini & Borragán, 2016, p. 1). The major disadvantage of the EU are that its laws and treaties are superior to those of the nations. This is not appreciated by many states, as they feel that their sovereignty is being compromised by being a part of the EU. This is the same sentiment that has produced an anti-EU sentiment in the UK leading up to Brexit.

The advantage of EU is that it gives access to member states to the largest market in the world, allowing manufacturers and service providers to sell their products and services throughout the EU market. This also means that there is a freedom of movement for these people under the Maastricht treaty and the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Campos & Coricelli, 2015).

Conclusion

The European integration began in the post war period of the 1940s and has culminated in a one of its kind regional arrangement with supra-structures, such as the European Parliament, Court of Justice and European Court of Human Rights.

Bibliography

  • Alter, K. J., & Steinberg, P. D. (2007). The Theory and Reality of the European Coal and Steel Community. In S. Meunier, & K. McNamara, European Integration and Institutional Change in Historical Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Campos, N., & Coricelli, F. ( 2015, February 03 ). Why did Britain join the EU? A new insight from economic history . Retrieved from voxeu.org:
  • http://voxeu.org/article/britain-s-eu-membership-new-insight-economic-history Cini, M., & Borragán, N. P.-S. (2016). Introduction. In M. Cini, & N. P.-S. Borragán, European
  • Union Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Costa v ENEL (1964) Case 6/64 (European Court of Justice 1964).
  • Glockner, I., & Rittberger, B. (2012). The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and European Defence Community (EDC) treaties. In F. Laursen, Designing the European Union: From Paris to Lisbon. Basingtoke: Springer.
  • Gilbert, M. (2004). Surpassing Realism: The Politics of European Integration since 1945. Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield.
  • Jones, E., Menon, A. and Weatherhill S. (2012). Preface. In Erik Jones, Anand Menon and Stephen Weatherill (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the European Union. Oxon: Oxford University Press.
  • Kenealy, D., Peterson, J. and Corbett, R. (2015). The European Union: How Does it Work?. Oxon: Oxford University Press.
  • Kenealy, D., Peterson, J., & Corbett, R. (2016). The European Union: How Does it Work? Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Kramer, M. (2010). Introduction: De Gaulle and Gaullism in France's Cold War Foreign Policy. In C. Nuenlist, A. Locher, & G. Martin, Globalizing de Gaulle: International Perspectives on French Foreign Policies, 1958–1969 (pp. 1-22). Plymouth: Lexington Books.
  • Ludlow, N. P. (2009). Value, Flexibility and Openness: The Treaty of Rome's Success in Historical Perspective. In C. J. Baquero, & C. Closa, European Integration from Rome to Berlin, 1957-2007: History, Law and Politics (pp. 17-32). Brussels: Peter Lang .

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