The European Union
The extent to which the EU has helped to:
Integrate European economies
The original objective of the EU was to create a single market, so that there was the free circulation of goods, capital, people and services within the EU. By creating a common tariff on external trade, member companies were more likely to interact with each others economies, rather than that of outsiders. The integration of European economies is largely thanks to the introduction of the Euro on 1st January 1999; it was launched by 11 of the 15 countries at the time and has since grown to 15 by 2009. It helps to build a single market by easing trade and travel by eliminating issues of exchange rate. More simply, it is a political symbol of the integration for which it can be recognised.
The development of infrastructure also helps to promote trade and hence the integration of the economies. The Trans-European Networks projects include the Channel Tunnel. It was estimated that by 2010 the network would cover 75,200 km of roads; 78,000 km of railways along with airports and infrastructure. This is especially important, as if it is to integrate the economies of the far eastern members of the European Union; it needs the transport in order to connect to them.
The potential integration of the European economies has been cut short however. With the introduction of the Euro problems have arisen, as public opinion, especially in the UK, is largely against it and countries such as the UK and Denmark have not adopted it. Furthermore, for the true integration of the economies, it is arguable that it could only succeed with the solitary governance of the EU. Steps towards this have been stopped, for instance the Treaty of Lisbon in December 2007 which included the creation of a European president was rejected in a referendum.
Develop the economies of Europe and other countries
The EU has allocated funds to support the underdeveloped regions of the EU. They have provided funds to support their countries to conform to the standards of the EU. Poland for instance has benefitted from investment to shift to a greater market orientation from a state-controlled economy, infrastructure funds to improve the road system and particularly its links to EU neighbours, such as Germany. CAP (Common Agriculture Policy) funding to help develop its agricultural sector and the free movement of its people in to other countries for work and training. Furthermore, the European Development Fund directs aid from the EU to developing countries. In 2008-13 it is expected to allocate over 10biliion Euros of aid.
The EU allows the greater interaction of countries within the EU for the aforementioned reasons for the integration of economies. This means that companies can trade within the EU with reduced tariffs and similarly people can work abroad. Globalisation is also defined as “when available goods and services, or social and cultural influences, gradually become similar in all parts of the world” and with this free movement of people, societies are becoming more multi-cultural and with the influence of the Euro, things are becoming more generalised within the union. Despite this, the EU, as an economic grouping it can also actually prevent globalisation, with certain countries which do not meet its standards, or are outside Europe. There is greater polarization in the world and these people are getting further and further behind. Furthermore, with tariff cuts in place within the EU, they are less likely to globalize in to other countries due to the breaks that the EU offers them. Yet it is arguable that this might manipulate other countries, especially NICs in to forming competitive markets, offering matching deals to the EU – in which case the EU would be catalyst to globalisation.
Ensure food security in Europe
The Common Agriculture Policy is one of the oldest and core aims of the EU. The policy objective was to increase production whilst ensuring a high quality of life for farmers, stabilising markets and making sure reasonable prices are available for customers. The steps to ensure food security were taken too far however, with considerable over-production taking place. It has also been criticised for undercutting farmers in the third world.
“In the wake of the 2007-08 surge in food prices, food security has become the most pervasive and powerful argument of those calling for the protection of EU agriculture. As the world food price index produced by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization exceeded its 2008 peak in December 2010, the argument will strengthen.”
Protect the environment
The EU has taken numerous steps in order to protect the environment. Its environmental policy addresses issues such as acid rain, the thinning of the ozone layer, air quality, noise pollution, and waste and water pollution. They also reach group aims, for example, in 2007 they agreed to use 20% renewable energy and to cut carbon emissions by 2020 compared to the levels in 1990. Whether this is the best allocation of environmental funding is questionable due to criticism from respectable scientists like Bjorn Lomborg and David Bellamy, but regardless, attempts to mitigate climate change are being made. There attempts further include forestry expansion have also been successful, increasing 10% in the west and 15% in the east. During 1990 and 2005 Europe’s forest have soaked up 126 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, equivalent to 11% of EU emissions from human activities. Not only this, but it also creates an animal habitat and protects existing forests from the threat of logging.
Make Europe a more peaceful place than it was in the 19th and early 20th centuries
From 1900 to 1990, Europe was home to two of the most deadly wars in history, followed by the cold war. Aside the collapse of the Soviet Union, the European Union has been a contributor to sustaining peace within Europe. The claim exists that the peace is caused as many Europeans have dropped their national identity and adopted a European one. For which we work for the European interest and not for the national. This arguably contains some truth, for wars are often fought in the name of a country, such as American’s swear allegiance to the flag in their school day. Despite this, only 8% of Britain’s identify themselves as a European and so, this is not truly effective. To compliment this however, the EU acts as ground to settle debates. The European Community (EC) and the present EU and its members have exerted a positive influence on the issues of peace and war in Europe and contributed to the fact that there are no longer any credible threats that war would break out among its members. There is no evidence that the Union is the only reason behind this positive development, developments in the general improvement in welfare, closer human bonds, more travel and economic interaction are accountable for the prevention of a Third World War and whether this is solely thanks to the EU is debatable.
Useful article: http://www.transnational.org/SAJT/forum/meet/2006/Oberg_EU_Promote_Peace.pdf
With reference to at least two groupings of nations, explain how such groupings have have assisted the members of the groups to develop their economies
The economic grouping of nations has been vastly beneficial to those involved with regard to developing their economies. Globalisation improves the economic status of most countries. The EU has allocated funds to support the underdeveloped regions of the EU. They have provided funds to support their countries to conform to the standards of the EU. Poland for instance has benefitted from investment to shift to a greater market orientation from a state-controlled economy, infrastructure funds to improve the road system and particularly its links to EU neighbours, such as Germany. CAP (Common Agriculture Policy) funding to help develop its agricultural sector and the free movement of its people in to other countries for work and training. These all have positive impacts on the countries economy. Poland’s economy for instance has experienced a GDP growth of 1.4% in 2002, before it joined the EU, but is now up to 6.6% by 2007.
NAFTA (The North American Trade Agreement) is a further example of a free trade bloc uniting Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Estimates are that NAFTA increases U.S. GDP by as much as .5% a year. The same can be said for all members involved, in 1993 exports from the U.S. to Canada and Mexico grew from $142 billion to $452 billion, thanks to the increased oppotunities in trade. These opportunities were brought about by various NAFTA policies. One reason trade grew because NAFTA provided the ability for firms in member countries to bid on government contracts. NAFTA increased farm exports because it eliminated high Mexican tariffs. Mexico is the top export destination for beef, rice, soybean meal, corn sweeteners, apples and beans. It is the second largest for corn, soybeans and oils. As a result of NAFTA, the percent of U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico has grown from 22% in 1993 to 30% in 2007. NAFTA eliminated trade barriers in nearly all service sectors, which are often highly regulated, this was especially useful as the US had a surplus of services. The trade group also reduced the reliance on foreign oil, by sourcing locally within the free trade area, cost was reduced. Since NAFTA, U.S. FDIin Canada and Mexico more than tripled to $348.7 billion. Canadian and Mexican FDI in the U.S. grew to $219.2 billion. The reason for this is due to NAFT, as it reduces investors’ risk by guaranteeing they will have the same legal rights as local investors.