The European Union
The European Union (E.U.) is a great political and economic union that accommodates twenty-seven states by membership. These countries are located primarily in Europe. E.U. was formed after the Second World War when the whole world was in great political and economic crisis. These nations decided to cooperate in unity to bring peace and harmony amongst people and at least enjoy a mutual benefit. According to Encyclopedia of Business website, originally, the EU was known as European Economic Community (EEC) but later in 1993 it evolved to EU. Among the current twenty seven country members in Europe France, Luxemburg, Belgium, Italy, West Germany and Netherlands were the first members. Later as time progressed other countries like Bulgaria, Romania joined in, the last country to join being in the year 2007.
The EU is founded on treaties which are decision-making systems is illustrated below.
EU developed policies that are rationally developed and adopted by higher commissions i.e., parliament. These policies usually give great chances to less developed countries with an aim of improving their living standards.(The social dimension) EU is a big organization that equips its members with plans to help them counter their economic disparities in Europe and with this European countries are appealing to join the EU.
Many articles have been written in favor of the EU and also against it. Some of the most appreciated E efforts are provisions of coherent and effective fields of external relations, security and judicial cooperation. This paper seeks to evaluate the effects this organization on its members. To do so, the paper will discuss the advantages and the disadvantages of being a member of EU and finally make a conclusion considering the merits and the demerits of the EU.
Advantages of the EU to Member Countries
EU has added value in the field of concrete importance to the citizens of member countries and this demonstrates advantages brought by EU. EU advantages are the key issue that the citizens appreciate and are in terms of prosperity, solidarity, security, creating opportunities, promoting cohesion and providing protection. The merits are:
European Single Market
EU member states according to Europa (1995) have formed a single market that caters for more than 550 million people needs. The European single market benefits companies in the member states by the fact that no custom tax is charged on goods transported and sold among member countries making it cheaper and easier to undertake business in the EU countries. The effect of this on the citizens is lower prices of companies’ products due to increased competition among the companies. EU pushes for similar market to facilitate fair competition across member states. According to Europa (1995), absence of the EU platform would result to industries having trouble in importing products and it would be more expensive while delivering services and making of products.
The second major advantage of EU is monetary unity, which has brought realistic concrete benefits for citizens. The benefits are facilitation of travel, live and study within the Euro zone and provision of low interest rates, especially those taken by citizens in form of mortgages from the anti-inflationary credibility of the common European central bank. Euro has enabled to either lower taxes or higher levels of service than would be by lowering the cost of servicing public depts. primarily in heavily indebted countries. Common market has greatly influenced the progress of e-commerce translating to citizens shopping all thru the entire Euro zone since there is no exchange risk. Ilskovitz, Dierx and Souza (2007) notes that unique currency eases the trade since the alteration of prices is noticeable and there is equal selling and buying of prices in all the countries demonstrating transparency. With the introduction of new currency (EURO), and elimination of national currency EU members countries were forced to lower their products prices to an equal level.
Human Rights Protection
EU supports all guidelines and principles contained in groups or organs of societies promoting Right and protection of individuals. Though it is strongly believed that primary responsibility of human rights lies between individual countries, EU acknowledges the activities of Human Rights Defenders. Some of the major supports that EU practically offers to human Right Defenders include;
- Integration promotion of issue of human rights defenders to the corresponding EU policies and actions.
- Encouraging establishment and supporting the already established national bodies for the purpose of protection and promotion of human rights.
- Assisting in establishment of human rights defenders network and facilitating human rights defenders meetings.
- Facilitating programmes for educating and promoting the UN declaration on Human Defenders.
EU advocates for environmental protection among the member States. According to European Commission, EU created policies with the aim of protecting the environment and to protect its members against terrorists. EU prioritizes in ensuring and guarantying security and safety to its member States.
Creation of Opportunities
EU creates opportunity of different domains from economic perspective. EU generates opportunities by directly stimulating provision of improved new goods and services to the single market. Opportunities are in terms of job creation and studying in any EU country.
Demerits of European Union
Small States have Little Influence
Small States have little power in decision making especially in security issues. Therefore, small States have little contribution and less participation on security matters. According to a report by Derham,, most of the large states like Germany exercise more of geo-political influence compared to the small states that are less powerful.
Loss of National Sovereignty
Membership to the EU has led to loss of sovereignty to the member States. Thus the members are neither unable to develop their own policies nor control their own economy in response to the needs of its citizens. The loss of sovereignty is due to the fact that when a state joins EU it has no other option other than to abide by the rules and regulations of the EU even if they are against their state rules and by becoming members they automatically put away their national sovereignty. On the other hand, if a member state happens to be on fault, they are held responsible of the situation and the European Court of Justice calls for the affected nation to control the situation. Failure to fix the situation at hand may cause to payment of heavy penalties. This shows that the member state sovereignty is gradually reduced by following the EU laws.
Between 1980 and 1990, France succeeded in cutting down their inflation rates to levels equal to that of Germany. However, this was achieved at the expense of higher unemployment. (page 202) Higher inflation rate in one of Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) states is a translation that the country is likely to bring about current account deficit and therefore downward pressure on its currency. For a State to be able to reduce deficit and inflation then it has to deflate its economy. (5th paragraph on devaluation of the exchange rate).
In conclusion, EU adds value in many sectors such as economic sector and has full potential of adding value in other sectors so long as certain conditions are met. Value addition is achieved through “leveling up”. Though individual states may be in a position to add value to reach an equivalent result through application of own made initiatives, the end result by EU supersedes the one which would be achieved by the member country acting on its own. From the above discussion EU advantages outdo the disadvantages bringing about the need of the mighty EU Organization to ensure continued development among the member States.