Sei sulla pagina 1di 9

Geary
Graham


Washington
University
in
St.
Louis

May
28,
2007


POLITICAL
AND
ECONOMIC
RISKS
TO
THE
EUROPEAN



UNION:

THE
DARK
SIDE
OF
UNITY



 



BRIEF
HISTORY
OF
EUROPE
AFTER
WORLD
WAR
II


-Countries of the EU

In theory, the European Union (EU) provides an ideal

framework to eliminate political differences and promote

economic growth through free trade. Creating a communal

system where the welfare of all its citizens is paramount

to the ambitions and wants of the few. No country shall

place its individual needs ahead of the welfare of the

community as a whole. So long as the leaders of Europe

continue to take steps to ensure the stability of the

region, its members should be able to enjoy the potential

for regional prosperity the EU promises to deliver.

History, however, tells us stability in Europe has

been a difficult task to achieve and maintain. With so

many different histories, values, cultures, and national


Geary
Graham

Washington
University
in
St.
Louis

May
28,
2007


identities, it is no surprise that the continent has faced

so many conflicts over the years and was responsible for

two world wars in the last century alone. Europe’s ability

to defend itself against the divisive occurrences of the

future, which are certain to come from current threats or

places right now unimagined, are key to its future success

and stability.

-Shared history and conflicts

Many countries within the EU have had many conflicts

in the past which have led to many confrontations over the

years. This puts increased pressure on the EU leadership

to act fairly with respect to all members without the

appearance of favoritism or national interests; an

achievable goal during stable times, however, very

difficult during times of economic and political

uncertainty. Member nations should also keep this in mind

while voting on topics which affect other member countries.

Behaviors which could be viewed as aggressive in nature or

unfair could lead to tensions between nations which could

prove devastating for the Union as a whole.


Geary
Graham

Washington
University
in
St.
Louis

May
28,
2007


RISKS
OF
INCLUDING
FORMER
SOVIET
CONTROLLED

COUNTRIES


-Russia’s renewed power and influence in Europe

With newly acquired wealth via natural resources,

Russia has been attempting to exercise its influence on the

former Soviet era states (many of which are now members of

the EU) and on Europe as a whole. Europe’s ever increasing

dependency on foreign energy supplies, namely natural gas

from Russia, adds serious security concerns for the

individual members of the EU. An aggressive and powerful

Russia stands poised to manipulate the stability minded

politicians of the EU by using the energy dependency of

European countries as leverage to pursue their national

agenda. The threat posed by such a dependency is enormous

to the stability of the EU. Russia has already

demonstrated that they are more than willing to use their

control of vital resources to pressure and demand behavior

on the part of sovereign nations. By withholding natural

gas, being virtually the only supplier in the region,

Russia has the ability to effectively disrupt the

infrastructure of all of Europe. Understandably, this type

of behavior isn’t in the economic best interests of Russia.


Geary
Graham

Washington
University
in
St.
Louis

May
28,
2007


The money they earn from their natural resources is the

cornerstone of that countries turnaround. However, for the

short-term bullying and manipulative actions they’ve shown

they are willing to take; it is a very effective tool to

bargain with. Their power to control the gas lines into

Europe gives them the power to dictate terms and influence

political actions in the region.

-US involvement

United States involvement in global economic and

political arenas could also potentially affect, not

necessarily the stability of the EU, but economic

development and progress. An example of such involvement

took place between the United Kingdom and Iran. The UK has

been a staunch supporter of the US in the Iraq war. This

has placed the UK at politically opposite ends of the

spectrum from many of its EU counterparts. However, these

differences hadn’t played a significant role in the past

and may not in the future. The potential for conflict is

there and is illustrated by the capture of UK sailors and

marines recently in the Gulf of Hormuz. Britain, in its

protest of the Iranian actions, sought to implement

economic sanctions in an effort to encourage the release of

its military personnel. Other members of the EU were under


Geary
Graham

Washington
University
in
St.
Louis

May
28,
2007


no obligation to isolate Iran economically, and in fact

many continued to engage in commerce to the chagrin the UK

during the crisis. Had this episode developed into a more

serious conflict between the UK and Iran, the British

parliament certainly would have sought support from the EU.

Those countries with significant economic ties to Iran

would have (or could have) had serious conflicts of

interests with respects to their votes on any type of

economic sanction.

US policy, in recent years, has certainly been at odds

with the policies of Europe. US and European relations as

a whole are at their lowest point possibly since the end of

the Second World War. Countries willing to support US

policy on myriad issues not just the war on terror may be

significantly out of touch with the views of many countries

within the EU. The “go it alone” attitude of Tony Blair

and George Bush don’t reflect the true spirit of the Union.

The sovereign right of countries to make decisions they

feel are in the best interest of their respective country

is vital to national identity and security. How the EU

deals with global conflicts in the future will determine

the relevance of Europe in the world as well as the

soundness of their union.


Geary
Graham

Washington
University
in
St.
Louis

May
28,
2007


EU
STRUCTURE
AND
POWER
DISTRIBUTION


-New Europe versus Old Europe

The EU was initially established as the European

Economic Community with European countries (France, West

Germany, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands)

with similar infrastructure and economic development. With

the signing of the Maastricht treaty in 1993 the EU began

to expand throughout Europe to include countries whose

economic and political values were, at least in the past,

more and more diverse.

With such large differences in economic

infrastructures and labor rates there would seem to be

significant opportunities for growth from some the Eastern

European countries. These countries should be able to

demand new investment due to the abundance of relatively

cheap labor. Companies from within the EU and abroad will

continue to migrate towards the cheaper markets taking jobs

and wealth away from the established economies to the

developing one. It is imperative for the members to

understand this and to shift their economies in order to

prepare. Otherwise, as the East becomes more prosperous


Geary
Graham

Washington
University
in
St.
Louis

May
28,
2007


over the coming years, the French and German type

governments may look for ways to prevent the loss of jobs.

If their workers are not prepared, they will face

significant pressure from their citizens to take actions

which may not concur with the EU treaties. The conflict

created due to the income disparities between the countries

will have to be addressed in order to ensure that the

arrangement works for everyone and not at the expense of

others.

-Maintaining equal representation without losing power

As the EU grows, possibly to include Turkey, a gradual

shifting of influence will continue to transfer to the

smaller and newer members. This should leave France,

Germany, UK, and other developed economies with a feeling

of uneasiness. These founding members of the EU, the face

of Europe, could quickly find themselves in the minority

with respect to economic policy and political ideology.

These countries no doubt understand for maintaining

equal representation and giving each member and equal

voice, but at the same time they must be concerned that

their own influence is at risk. With each new member

admitted to the EU these founding members must face a


Geary
Graham

Washington
University
in
St.
Louis

May
28,
2007


renewed uneasiness with respect to the direction the EU is

taking. Combating the shifting balance of power while

maintaining the equal footing for all, while not something

they will admit to, is a serious consideration for many of

these countries.

Europe’s
 place
 in
 the
 world:
 an
 outsider’s


perspective

The EU gives the countries of Europe a unified voice

with respect to economic policies around the world which

gives them the power to influence environmental and

political decisions as well. As the EU has grown, its

influence and global importance has changed as well. As

its borders stretch farther and farther to the eastern

parts of Europe, the political and economic conflicts have

become more complex and vital to the global economy.

In order for Europe to remain relevant it must accept

its responsibility as an economic global force. The


Geary
Graham

Washington
University
in
St.
Louis

May
28,
2007


economies of nations are increasingly tied to political

actions. The EU must embrace this fact and take a

leadership role in world events. The only way to ensure

stability in the region which will leave an environment for

economic growth is to aggressively engage destabilizing

forces around the world. From Sudan to the Middle East,

from China to North Korea, to global warming, the EU has

the responsibility and the clout to engage the world from a

position of power. Failures to act and accept its role on

the world stage, the countries of the European Union face

becoming globally irrelevant. This is more destabilizing

than most understand.