The European Union is one of the most successful regional integration bodies in the world. The European Union, formed in 1993, draws its roles from past organizations formed after the Second World War to ensure peace existed in Europe. Since itss formation, the EU has experienced increased membership, as there are now twenty six countries involved in the organization. The establishment of the EU has allowed the creation of a free market around Europe; therefore allowing economic development among member states. Other than economic integration, the EU has also promoted peace among its member states. By discussing the events leading to the formation of the EU as well as the modern day economic issues facing Europe, the essay will aim to show that the European Union is a successful integration model for peace.
The European Union was initially formed in 1951 after the signing of a treaty that resulted in the formation of European Coal and Steel Community. The body, which formed after the Second World War, aimed at creating a United Europe by promoting peace between France and Germany (Bloom Par. 4). The establishment of the association aimed at ensuring prosperity in Europe by creating a body that jointly supplied and controlled important resources including steel and coal. The creation of the ECSC promoted the improvement of the standards of living in the member countries with each of the nations experiencing high economic growth. Other than promoting cooperation in steel and coal production and supplying, the ECSC promoted political stability in Europe. Since the continent was still recovering from the aftermath of the World Wars, the body helped to calm fears of war (Alter and Steinberg 4). The ECSC promoted joint control and distribution of steel and Coal and as such the different member states had no reason to go to war.
The formation of an integration body in Europe resulted in two decades of peace, which were threatened by the economic recession experienced in the 1980s. The economic issues experienced in Europe in the 1980s resulted from member countries not being able to deal with the various critical issues at the time including the oil crisis (Alter and Steinberg 9). As there was no consensus on how to deal with the economic problems, a sort of political instability developed. This instability resulted in the creation of the Single European Act in 1986, which aimed at promoting economic integration throughout Europe. The SEA resulted in the establishment of sharing strategy, where member countries shared different expenses. The Single European Act also promoted the formation of a single common market for all member countries (European Union Law). The establishment of a single market resulted in development all over the member countries as each of the nations was required to implement the same standards and regulations. The mutual relationship created after the act helped to promote peace as the member countries relied on each other for economic development (European Union Law). The occurrence of war would have resulted in the decline of the mutual relationships; therefore economic problems. The development of the SEA also introduced an era of consensus in different European countries; therefore, political stability. The SEA promoted both prosperity and peace in Europe.
The formation of a free market resulted in several problems due to budgetary issues caused by different currencies. The signing of the Maastricht treaty in 1992 resulted in the creation of a single currency that applied to all member countries. The Maastricht treaty also resulted in the adoption of the name the European Union. The introduction of a single currency promoted monetary integration, which in turn promoted further economic development within the continent. Issues of fluctuations due to the exchange rates threatened the launching of the Euro as some member countries had stronger economies as compared to others (Spolaore 6). This issue was however quickly solved with the Euro having no exchange fees in the member states. The development of a common currency resulted in increased instances of trade between the affiliate nations and as such promoted peace and prosperity in Europe. The introduction of the Euro also promoted a sort of equality among member nation, as member countries do not experience any inequalities when trading with other European countries that may have stronger economies.
The Maastricht treaty also promoted the development of a foreign and security policy that was common among all signatories. The Common Foreign and Security Policy resulted in the realization of a joint diplomacy, security and defense branch of the European Union. The formation of a joint military and diplomacy unit reduced the EU’s dependency on NATO, which is greatly controlled by the United States (Nugent 47). The establishment of the security and diplomacy organ of the EU helped in the creation of dispute resolution body. The creation of a military organ meant that Europe could now protect itself as a unitary body against the various threats including terrorism. The foreign policy also aimed at ensuring at ensuring common values and independence by promoting respect for the rule of law, human rights, and democracy (Nugent 55). The promotion of these fundamental freedoms has helped to ensure equality in Europe; therefore, maintain ace of peace in the region.
In the 21st century, the EU has continued to promote peace among its member nations. The 21st Century has seen the emergence of newer threats to peace and prosperity in Europe. One of the greatest threats towards peace in Europe is the economic issues currently facing Greece. The failing of the Greek economy has been attributed to huge government spending as well as high instances of corruption. The different member nations have been divided in regards of the steps to take to ensure Greece does not experience an economic meltdown. Germany and France have been in opposing sides with Germany voting against allowing Greece to solve the economic issues (Cowell and Kulish Par. 3). These various arguments have in turn threatened the unity in the European Union. Since the EU promotes consensus, the various conflicts between Germany and France in regards to the Greece situations, have easily been resolved, with the EU voting to bail Greece out of its financial debt. The provision for consensus allowed the prevention of a modern day conflict between two major powers within the EU (Cowell and Kulish Par 7). Allowing consensus also prevented a walk out by various countries, which would have resulted in political instability in Europe.
The EU also aims at ensuring peace in other countries that are not member. The EU has imposed several sanctions on different nations that conduct activities that may threaten the existence of peace. The European Union has issues sanctions against North Korea and Iran due to their participation in the development of nuclear weapons. The economic sanctions are aimed at regulating the number of nuclear weapons; therefore, reducing the risk of nuclear war. The EU has also issued travel and economic sanctions against Syria, with the aim of stopping the civil conflict in Syria. By refusing to do businesses with Syria and other countries that violate human rights, the EU promotes forced peace. Refusing to do business with countries that experience a massive violation of human rights means that the EU does not support or condone such violations. The EU also aims at promoting the border integrity of its countries as well as that of neighboring countries. In the most recent conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the EU has issued sanctions against Russia for the violation of border integrity laws (Packer). To ensure that peace between Russia and Ukraine, the EU voted to allow Ukraine join NATO; therefore, protect its borders. The EU, however, does not participate in any of these conflicts and prefers to take a neutral position despite the various divisions within the body. The EU also participates in different peacekeeping missions; therefore, has succeeded in promoting peace in different areas of the world other than Europe.
Peace and economic stability move the hand and in hand with each other. The main towards the formation of the European Union was to promote peace in Europe by ensuring prosperity among the member nations. Although the union has faced several challenges, the body has ensured peace throughout Europe. The various economic benefits offered to members has allowed economic development in all member countries; therefore, reducing the risk of both internal and external conflicts among member states. Although there are instances where the European Union has failed in ensuring peace, the Union has largely been successful in ensuring peace among its member states, therefore, a successful integration model for peace that should be emulated by other nations.
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Cowell, Alan and Nicholas Kulish. "Nobel Committee Gives Peace Prize to European Union." 12 October 2012. The New York Times. Web. <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/13/world/nobel-peace-prize.html?_r=0>.
European Union Law. "The Single European Act." 26 October 2010. Europa. Web. <http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:xy0027>.
Nugent, Neill. The Government and Politics of the European Union. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. Print.
Packer, George. "The Quiet German: The astonishing rise of Angela Merkel, the most powerful woman in the world." 1 December 2014. The New Yorker. Web. <http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/12/01/quiet-german>.
Spolaore, Enrico. "What Is European Integration Really About? A Political Guide for Economists." Journal of Economic Perspectives (2013): 1-21. Print.