The European Union (EU) is a political and economic association that has a novel structure of collaboration among sovereign nations. The EU is the most recent stage in a procedure of integration started after World War II, at first by six Western European nations, to cultivate reliance and make another war in Europe unimaginable. At present, the European Union is made out of 28 countries in Europe, including the greater part of the nations of Central and Eastern Europe, and has served to advance peace, dependability, and monetary thriving all through the European mainland (Golub, 2007, p 155). The European Union was formed as political and economic partnership but many view it as a political project that is carried out by economic means, this paper is going to look at this perspective and how Europe has been pursuing projects that are compatible.
The main aim of the European Union was to prevent any other war after the World War 2 by creating a body that will foster peace, harmony and co-existence. In order to achieve political stability and prosperity then economic policies that are favorable to different states need to be implemented. The existence of a single market in the European member states has lowered the prices of products in the region and there is no custom tax between the member states, one of the major causes of the World Wars was the scarcity and sharing of resources. By creating a single market where countries can source goods and services with minimal barriers, countries are able to trade with goods they need without having to acquire it forcefully, the EU has grown in leap and bounds because it has suppressed the chances of war ever occurring in Europe due to differences in resources.
The European Union has taken over the member state governments i.e. they have power over the government and they can control the political leadership of a single country (Baker, Gamble & Seawright, 2002, p 399). Sanctions against nations are a key EU approach device that it uses to seek after goals as per the standards of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. Certain EU measures are forced by Resolutions received by the UN Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The European Union might however choose to apply self-governing measures notwithstanding the United Nation’s measures or receive prohibitive measures self-sufficiently. The EU forces its prohibitive measures to achieve an adjustment in arrangement or movement by the objective nation, some part of a nation, government, substances or people. They are a preventive, non-reformatory, instrument which ought to permit the European Union to react quickly to political difficulties and improvements.
Restrictive measures ought to be utilized as a major aspect of a coordinated and extensive arrangement approach, in the system of the European Union’s general strategy policies, including political dialogue, integral endeavors and different instruments. The measures ought to focus on the strategies or activities that have provoked the European Union’s choice to force sanctions and the methods of carrying them out and those recognized accountable of these approaches or activities. Such focused on measures ought to minimize unfriendly results for those not accountable of such arrangements and activities. The political goals and criteria of the prohibitive measures ought to be unmistakably characterized in the lawful demonstrations.
A good example of an economic sanction that was carried out for political gain was the sanction that the EU slapped on Russia due to the Ukrainian crisis. The EU claimed that the Russian armed forces breached the territorial integrity of Ukraine and also its sovereignty. Therefore, EU imposed the following economic sanctions; EU member states and natives were not allowed trade any financial instrument with a maturity exceeding thirty days that were issued by certain Russian entities, issuing of financial instruments was restricted, an embargo on arms to/from Russia from EU membership was prohibited. There were many other economic sanctions that were carried out whose main aim was to find a lasting political solution to the Ukrainian crisis through an inclusive dialogue to ensure a prosperous, stable and democracy in Ukraine.
Lastly, most of the countries entered the European Union for political purposes, for instance, the founders of European Union, formerly known as European Economic Community (EEC), Germany and France, formed the EEC to heal the scars of war and foster political stability. Belgium joined the union to obtain diplomatic economies of scale while Estonia, Poland and Hungary joined to prevent the political hostility and intimidation they received from Russia. There are strict guidelines on matters that occur within and outside the European Union; this sparks unity within the continent and globally. Eurosceptics argue that the European Union has minimal economic gains because it is difficult for a country to grow and be powerful if it shares its wealth with another country, for example, Germany cannot realize its full economic potential as it shares its wealth with smaller countries. The policies of the EU are not set to promote the interest of individual countries but are set to promote the interest of the Union as a whole; this has succeeded in putting the political sphere of the member counties in check.
As some view the single market as one of the most successful achievements of the EU, but the Single European Market (SEM) is a ship bound to sink. The SEM was formed to reduce the cost and remove the barriers of trading for the member states; this was made possible by creating a larger free trade area. This basic thought was to see the expenses of European business diminished by uprooting inward duties and institutionalizing regulation – a procedure which has been extended to incorporate the foundation of a typical/common currency and financial strategy crosswise over the majority of the European Union, and which tries at last to accomplish a common monetary policy.
The single market in the European Union is based on three pillars namely; free movement of goods, services, persons and capital between member states, the approximation of relevant laws, regulations and administrative provisions between member states, European Union wide competition policy administered by the European Commission and a system of common external tariffs (Clawson,1993, p 305). One of the major problems is the effect of different languages used by the member states and differing levels of monetary improvement; the impingement of social and equity approach on the absolutely financial vision of the single European market; and member states keep on contending with each other monetarily, now and again looking for their own national intrigue instead of the benefit of the EU as a whole (The European single market — How far from completion?, 2011). The issue of member states focusing on their own interest rather than the interest of EU as a whole is because of the guidelines to member states to act to accomplish specific targets (politics.co.uk, 2015).
Decisions by member states have hindered the success of SEM. For instance, the French stakes in the energy industry has led to the exclusion of energy trading from the single market in the European Union. Some of the member countries have not adopted the single currency of the European Union; this has been a major obstacle to the SEM. The uncontrolled movement of labor within the member states was never a smart idea. Basically the immigration has led big cities like London and Benin being overpopulated, even though some may argue that this has increased competition in terms of labor competencies, the free movement has led to the influx of cheap labor and brought the wages of reputable professions down (Franchino, 2009, p 403). Some other disadvantages that have been associated with SEM are; presence of negative externalities, unequal distribution of income, creation of monopolies, overconsumption of demerit goods, under consumption of merit goods, absence of public goods and unemployment. The SEM has been incompatible with many member state countries in terms of laws and policies.
The European Union is widely criticized because of its inefficient industrial policies. A large portion of the EU expenditure goes to the common Agriculture policy. The Agricultural markets are in efficient and distorted because they place minimum prices on foods; this has increased inflation and has encouraged excess supply in the market. This has been a major challenge to many of the member states due to the inflationary trends caused by the European Union industrial policies.
Lastly, the adoption of the Euro has been challenging to most of the member countries and has been incompatible with their monetary and other policies. For instance, there is no lender of last resort as the European Central Bank (ECB) does not play this role, this has put more countries to pressure to cut spending by governments which has stagnated economic growth. The Euro has barred devaluation of the currency therefore member states with high inflation compared to other member states become uncompetitive which leads to slow economic growth. A good example is the Greece crisis. The interest rates are set by the ECB that are favorable to the EU but may not be favorable to specific member states.