European Union Peril or Panacea
In every continent, there are different unions and organizations that bring together selected nations, based on regions under the same "management umbrella". The main function of these unions/organizations is to help the member nations to undertake various social, political and economic activities. In addition to that, it is also important that most of these organizations greatly help in humanitarian activities in the member states. For instance in Africa there are unions like Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), South African Development Community (SADAC), East Africa Corporation (EAC) and African Union (AU) among others; however despite the fact that these organizations cover different geographical regions, they all fall under the African Union (AU) body.
The purpose of this research paper will not to focus on African organization but rather in one of the main organizations in Europe, the European Union. The main aim of the paper will be to discuss as to whether the European Union abbreviated as EU is a Peril or Panacea to its members. The paper will provide a description of the historical context of the growth and development of the European Union from the time it was formed up to date, it will provide an assessment of how the activities of the European Union have evolved over time; under this the paper will give the advantages of the European Union and the contributions it has made in the recent past, the limitations of the European Union will also be discussed in the paper. Finally the paper will provide a prediction of the future of the European Union based on the previous analysis and its activities. Apart from the above mentioned points, the paper will mention some of the well established nations that form the core of the European Union. In conclusion, the paper will give a summary of the important points that would have been mentioned in the paper.
The Development of the European Union
According to Europa, it is stated that in 1849 a French citizen and one world's greatest and most celebrated novelist, essayist and poet Victor Marie Hugo predicated that there will come a time when the continent (Europe) will be united irrespective of the different social, political and economic back grounds of the nations in it (Europa, 2010). In addition to that, he predicted that there will be no more battlefields but there will be market places for trade and that the weapons of mass destruction will be replaced by votes. This meant that there will equal justice and democracy for all. This prophecy came to pass a century later. The idea of the formation of the European Union came into "birth" in 1950 after World War II (WWII) and its main mandate was to ensure that there is no more armed conflict between neighboring European nations.
The first treaty to be signed was the Paris Treaty which was signed in 1951. This treaty gave rise to the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the first nations to sign it were France, Italy, West Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. The purpose of this treaty was to amalgamate steel and coal industries of Western Europe nations. Seven years down the line in 1957, two different treaties were signed by the same nations and these treaties were aimed at abolishing trade barriers between the six member states and put in place a common market place. They were collectively known as the Rome Treaties and they consisted of the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) agreements.
As time progressed, more and more nations joined the European Union "bandwagon", in 1973 the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark joined the union; later on in 1981 Greece joined and in 1986 Portugal and Spain joined. Austria, Finland and Sweden joined the European Union in 1995; however it is important to note that some of the last nations to join the European Union joined in 2004 (Europa, 2010). One of the most important achievements of the European Union was in 1999 when the member nations agreed to adapt to the use of a single currency, the Euro. The creation of the European Union greatly reduced the armed conflict among the member states and restored sanity. It is important to note that there were some significant improvements in the social, political and economic situation of the member nations and they include;
Achievements of the European Union
Economic Achievements: According to BIS, the creation of a common or single market for all member states was one of the main achievements of the European Union and this has developed from 1955 up to date (BIS, 2010). This common market increased the level of competition among the member nations in terms of production of quality goods for the ever increasing population. The consumers were the main beneficiary of this because of the free movement of goods between the nations which gave them a chance to sample the goods and hence a chance for them to decide the best product to settle for. It is also estimated that the European Union Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as at 2006 was higher by 2.2% as compared to the previous years. In terms of job creation, more than 2.75 million extra jobs have been created in Europe since the formation of the Union.
Another group of persons that have greatly benefited from corporation are the workers / employees and students. Under the European Union regulations, workers or students from the member states are allowed to work in any country without a work permit as long as they are natives of the member states. As for the workers, they are allowed to work for a maximum of 48 hours per week; they are entitled to one day off each week and a full paid annual leave of one month. These benefits cover both permanent and contractual workers. As for parenting workers, they have a right to a minimum of thirteen weeks annual leave (paid) (BIS, 2010). The adaptation of the Euro as a single currency in 1999 for trade can also be said to be a major step towards economic prosperity, this because it reduced the time spent to exchange currency from one foreign currency to the other and hence faster business transactions. Socially, the European Union opened doors for people from different cultural and religious backgrounds to interact and learn something new about the other. These interactions have made residents feel at "home' despite their geographical location. There are numerous achievements that the European Union has brought on the table for the past 60 years; however this was not easy since there are numerous obstacles that the member states experienced in the process.
Challenges and Limitations Faced by the European Union
One of the main challenges that the European Union experienced from the onset is the implementation of the different treaties that they signed. This is because each nation had its own constitution and different regulations and therefore it was hard for them to "bend" their respective rules to comply with the treaties. It is also important to note that the economic growth and strength of the different member states was different; there are some nations that had a strong economic base whereas there were those that had weak economic base. This meant that by allowing equal platform when it came to conducting business, some nations had an upper hand as compared to others. As a continent, Europe is mainly divided into Eastern and Western Europe; however the Western block is more developed more than the Eastern block and therefore they (Eastern block) felt left out in most decisions.
According to Economics, some of the challenges are the change in the management structure and development of new trade patterns meant that most industries in Eastern Europe could not compete equally with industries in Western Europe which provided services at lower costs (Economics, 2010). As indicated in the paper one advantage of the European Union was free movement of people within the member states, this however had its limitation too since there has been massive migration of skilled and unskilled personnel from East to West to benefit from the higher packages on offer. The disadvantage of this is that there is a risk of economic disability in the East because of scarcity of qualified personnel. The introduction of a single currency, the Euro was a welcome sign however this did not bridge the economic gap between the member states since they have a different rate of economic growth and Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Most nations' also lost "economic independence" since they any decision made by a nation directly affects the economic and financial activities of other member states.
The Future of European Union
For the past 60 years, the European Union has grown from a "small club" to become a social, economic and political power house, this has not been easy thou from the challenges mentioned above. The rapid growth of internet communication and technology sectors has positively improved the activities of the European Union and in the recent past it has turned Europe into a digital village. Trade has been made fast and more efficient by the introduction of the E - Commerce and other online mediums.
Having looked at the achievements that the European Union has had in Europe and the contributions it has made in the other continents more specifically in Africa and Asia, it is wise to say that the future of the Union looks bright and promising. According to Marquee (2010) however, there are several obstacles that the member states must overcome in order to make progress. Tribalism is a virus that has destroyed many communities not only in Europe but also in other continents; this is one area that the European Union member states must seriously address in order to forge forward. The member states should come up with a common language that will unite members of all nations, this should be applied also to radio and television stations as well as other entertainment outlets (Marquee, 2010). By ensuring that tribalism has been shunned then there will be rapid social and cultural developments in the member states.
The growth and enlargement of the European Union is one issue that also needs to be considered. The change in political landscape of most nations has given rise to the "birth" of new nations and republics all of which want to be incorporated as members of the European Union. It is therefore upon the members states of the Union to come up with relevant strategies that will ensure that the new members are absorbed well into the union. This however will not be easy because of the economic instability that is affecting some members of the Union.
The European Union Peril or Panacea
Since its interception in 1950's, the European Union has undergone tremendous transformation in terms of member population and strategies implementation. The Union has played a pivotal role in ensuring that there is peace and stability in Europe and across the globe despite the numerous challenges that it has encountered. As indicated in the paper the good outcome that the European Union has generated has not covered Europe alone but also the rest of the world. It is therefore say to say that the organization / union has been more of a panacea than peril to the world.
Summation of the Paper
The purpose of this research paper was to discuss as to whether the European Union has been a peril or panacea. The paper has however covered three different stages in the course of study, first it has critically discussed the origin of the union and the factors that led to its formation. The paper has given systematic stages of the different treaties that have been signed and how different member states have joined the union. The achievements and advantages of the union have been extensively discussed in the paper and the impact they have had in Europe and the entire world.
For any achievement made, there must be equal challenges and limitations, the limitations of the European Union and the challenges the member states have faced have been mentioned and discussed in the paper. The next important area that paper has discussed is the future of the European Union, under this it has discussed the role that internet technology has played in the growth of the Union and the challenges the member states must overcome to ensure that the future of the union remains solid and firm. In the last section the paper has given and opinion as to whether the European Union is a peril or panacea. The conclusion to this is that the European Union is a panacea.