Founded in 1993, The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 27 European countries that aims to promote peace, offer freedom, achieve sustainable development, and combat social discrimination.
History of EU:
When the second world war ended in 1945, Europe was in ruin and there was a consensus that something needed to be done.
On 9th May 1948, Sir Winston Churchill spoke to a crowd in Amsterdam to instil a sense of unity and pride in being European amongst people from many European countries.
6 years later, in 1951-Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands established the European Coal and Steel Company. By design, it intertwined countries that had been at war so that they could work together and establish peace among citizens.
This community was initially called the “European economic community.” Countries in the ECC removed customs between each other and set shared policies on agriculture and energy.
In 1972, the UK somewhat reluctantly joined the ECC as a part of its first expansion.
All countries in the ECC operated as if they were 1 nation. So, in 1992, the concept of European citizenship was formed. This allowed European citizens to freely move, live and travel in any of the member countries.
On 1st November 1993, the Europe Union was officially formed at Maastricht, Netherlands and the ECC was integrated into the EU.
In 1999, 11 of the 15 EU countries locked their currencies together to form the Euro. The UK however opted out.
In 2004, the EU saw an eastward expansion with 10 new members (Cyprus, Malta, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia) joining the EU. Most of them were former Soviet bloc countries. This was a high point in the pro-EU sentiment which was first instilled 56 years ago by Sir Winston Churchill.
In 2013, Croatia joined the EU, and it was the last country to join the EU.
Issues with the EU:
Europe’s taxation structure doesn’t encourage development of new businesses. There are numerous world-class companies there, but none of them were created in the past 25 years. BMW, Mercedes, and Audi are still going strong, but there is no EU answer to Facebook, Walmart, Amazon, or Google. The whole idea of the Euro was to create a currency that would help a single market work with greater efficiency and stimulate economic growth – but that never happened. Instead of getting better, most of the Eurozone countries are experiencing declines in their economic prospects. This was one of the reasons for Brexit.
European countries must pay to be a part of the EU. Each country must have a robust financial foundation to join the EU. Only 2% of the EU’s funding comes from outside sources, which means the member nations are responsible to pay for the rest. When we add in the costs of NATO, each country must pay several billion dollars each year just to participate in this governing structure. There are economic returns to consider as well, but the UK considered Brexit because some years would create a loss of over $4 billion to its local economy.
The EU can suffer from a lack of transparency. Malta is an excellent example of this disadvantage, as they only receive 6 representatives in the EU parliament. Germany on the other hand gets to send 90 more people to vote on key issues for the continent. Since many of these debates don’t happen in public, there can be an overall lack of transparency in Europe that makes people wonder what is going on.
The EU favours larger countries at the expense of smaller ones. The International Monetary Fund shows that per capita GDP rose by 19% in Germany and 14% in the Netherlands. But, when you look at some of the smaller countries, like Greece, experienced a decline of 7% over the same period. This issue creates a stench of double standards when it comes to the enforcement of the growth and stability in EU member countries.