Politically, the European Union (hereinafter EU) covers only the geographical territories of members states. One of the reasons the organization came into being was to ensure political stability within the region. It was to offer a platform on which the European countries would transact political deals. Put differently, it allows the European states to negotiate in what modern day politics refers to as multilateral diplomacy (Richardson 476). This has granted EU the power to make certain policies that all member states must adhere to (Richardson 476).
EU has political boundaries beyond which it cannot operate. Much as it is mandated to come up with policies – procedurally negotiated and consented to – it cannot dwell in the trivial political affairs of individual contracting parties. Also, though it can negotiate and secure a deal between wrangling parties, it cannot force a decision down the throat of political leaders especially with regards to matters of governance, pertinent and unique only to particular countries (Richardson 476). Equally important is the fact that, for political reasons, EU cannot admit to its membership unfriendly states. A case in hand is Israel. Because Israel had an undying animosity with her Middle East neighbors, it sought admission to EU but this was shot down because it was geographically excluded and consenting to her request would strain the relationship between EU and the Middle East (McCormick 45). Therefore, the EU “begins” at its geographical global space and “ends” at member state’s private political affairs. The organization, for example, does not handle issues of citizenship and issuance of travel documents.
Economically, EU “begins” at the common market. One of the objects of the union is to make Europe one large market for manufactured or imported goods. The body enacts laws and policies that aim to make trading across European countries easy, cheap and fast. This encompasses removal of tariffs and non-tariff barriers and facilitation of free movement of goods and labour. The EU Commissioner is tasked to initiate policy-making processes, oversee implementation and monitor economic progress (Richardson 85). Through the office, EU has come up with laws on copyright law, competition law, licensing, among others. The Commissioner is also legally obliged to commercially negotiate with other nations and international organizations on behalf of the organization.
With regards to adopting one currency, EU has faced challenges that appear insurmountable. Though the single currency was to facilitate transactions as it eliminates risks associated with devaluation of a currency, some European countries vehemently opposed the move (Artis and Nixson 258). The EU treaty had a clause that allows uncomfortable nations to opt out of the Euro-area and this was exploited by the Britain and Denmark in opposing the common monetary rule (Artis and Nixson 258). This means EU cannot encroach into the monetary policies of member states. Fiscal policies are in the hands of national governments. Also, the organization cannot interfere with bilateral economic ties between a member state and a non-member state. Further, the union prohibited from compelling individual citizens of members states to trade only among themselves. These points explain where EU “ends”.
Political stability, social integration and economic advancement are the three main reasons that informed regionalization of Europe. However, these cannot be easily achieved in the presence of insecurity. Today, the world is threatened by terrorism and political upheavals. EU has the mandate to mobilize its members and curb security threats. Through diplomatic negotiations, member states are called for pacific resolution of disputes. Contracting parties are also encouraged to observe modern democratic practices and observance of human rights. Cross-border disputes and other potential causes of war and insecurity are solved at the European Court of Justice. EU can also debate and adopt resolutions on emergency responses to security threats. This can go a long way to include sharing of intelligence and military multi-state intervention. This is because, in spite of diplomatic relations between states, there is the bigger picture of regional stability and good neighborliness.
But like in other sectors, there is a point where EU “ends” with regards to security matters. It cannot undermine local military arrangements of concerned states. Much as it remains responsible for regional security, it cannot invade national spaces unless in circumstances allowed by law or agreed upon by the governing organs. Its authority does not also extend to ‘outside’ regions. EU cannot, for example, go to Syria or Pakistan or Israel to sort out their security issues. Neither can it unilaterally decide to respond to terror attacks in non-member states. It is only concerned with that which can impact on its well-being.
Integration has reduced Europe to a small village. Thus, the EU aims to culturally unite Europeans and come up with what Shore calls ‘the European identity’. Here, EU “begins” at the economic and political integration which, in essence, lead to social interactions. Because people from different cultural backgrounds are brought together, EU comes in to regulate socialization so as to come up with a European culture.
However, there are certain areas that EU should not touch. It should not cross the line to interfere with nation’s native languages and religious practices. This is because there are cultural practices that people of a particular country value so much, sentimentally, spiritually or even economically
Artis, Michael and Nixson, Fredrick. Economics of the European Union. Oxford: Oxford
McCormick, John. European Union Politics. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. Print.
Richardson, Jeremy. European Union: Power and Policy-making. Oxford: Routledge,
Shore, Chris. European Union and the Politics of Culture. The Bruges Group, 2001. Retrieved on
June 9, 2015 from http://www.brugesgroup.com/eu/european-union-and-the-politics-ofculture.htm?xp=paper. Web.