- For the results of EU policies, see European migrant crisis
|Capital||Brussels, Luxembourg, Strasbourg|
|Language||24 official languages (official)|
|President||Charles Michel (Council)|
Ursula von der Leyen (Commission)
David Sassoli (Parliament)
|Area||4,475,757 km² (1,728,099 sq mi)|
|GDP||$17.1 trillion (2017 IMF)|
|GDP per capita||$33,551 (2017 IMF)|
|Internet top-level domain||.eu|
The European Union (EU) is an anti-democratic experiment in globalism, combining very different cultures and nations into an auxillery defense bloc of the NATO alliance consisting of 27 European countries. The EU was formed in 1993 with the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty, though its predecessor, the European Economic Community, was founded in 1957. It is not the same as "Europe", though most nations from the continent have joined the EU, but Britain left it in 2020. The EU seems to cause more harm than benefit, as it did by adopting a lebensraum policy to incorporate Ukraine into the EU reich on Feb. 28, 2022, rather than deescalating the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
As a set of institutions, the EU has more powers over its member states and their citizens than other international bodies; many of its competencies are supranational (above the member states) rather than intergovernmental (between them). Despite having a legal personality and sovereignty in agreed areas, it is not regarded as a federation or state in its own right: rather, it stands somewhere between these two points. Unlike most democratic unions that are formed from the grassroots up, the European Union was imposed on the people of Europe from the top down by oligarchs and bureaucrats. Fifteen member states use a common currency, the euro. The EU is moving in the direction of eventually becoming a politically unified federation, something which many of its leaders consciously support.
There is no EU military. Each nation has its own forces, but nearly all are members of NATO, in which the U.S. has a preponderant voice and provides a disproportionate share of funding.
The EU is a driving force of global economic and political integration, but Hix (2008) sees three problems with the EU: policy gridlock, lack of popular legitimacy and the democratic deficit. He notes, "In substantive terms ... the EU is closer to a form of enlightened despotism than a genuine democracy." In addition, on February 5, 2000, John Laughland indicated in The Spectator that the European Union's entire purpose was to subject Western Europe to Marxist–Leninist/Marxist-Trotskyist thought.
With the EU's facilitation of the European migrant crisis, Euroskeptics and native populist movements regard the EU as a totalitarian bureaucracy. In 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU; a process termed Brexit, making them the first country to leave the European Union. This decision was finalized on January 1, 2021.
- 1 Politics
- 2 Structure
- 3 Sovereignty
- 4 Economy
- 5 Criticism
- 6 History
- 7 Candidates for membership
- 8 Member states
- 9 References
- 10 Further reading
Each nation elects members to the Parliament in proportion to population. The June 2009 elections saw sweeping gains by conservative and anti-immigration parties, as labor and socialist parties lost heavily. Since the 2004 elections the largest grouping has for the last five years been the centre-right European People's Party EPP (288 seats out of a current 785), followed by the centre-left PES (216) and the liberal ALDE (100). With the 2009 election EPP made gains and retains power in the parliament.
Conservative Jose Manuel Barroso, who will have a second term as European Commission president, thanked voters and assured them their voices would be heard.
Turnout was at an all-time low in some countries, including France (41%) and Germany (42%).
The European Commission
In September 2009 Jose Manuel Barroso, was re-elected as president of the European Commission after the European Parliament voted to give him a second term. This ended weeks of uncertainty during which Socialist, Green and Liberal critics tried to block Mr Barroso's candidacy on the grounds that he had yielded too much power to national governments and promoted the kind of free-market liberalism that led to the financial crisis.
The role and responsibilities of the European Commission place it at the centre of the EU's decision-making process. Acting as the EU's policy and executive engine, the Commission is composed of 28 Commissioners, one from each state, and is supported by a substantial staff located primarily in Brussels, Belgium. In matters relating to economic integration ("First or 'Community' Pillar"), only the Commission has the right to propose legislation for approval by the EU Council and European Parliament. As "guardian of the Treaties," the Commission ensures that EU laws are applied and upheld throughout the EU, prosecuting member states and other institutions for failing to follow treaty precepts or otherwise apply Community law. The Commission has full authority to enforce Community competition policy, and its policing of implementation of Community legislation preserves the integrity of the EU single market. The Commission likewise manages and develops the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), implements the budget, and represents the European Community in its areas of competence, notably including international trade negotiations.
The Commission President is appointed by agreement of the EU heads of government and is subject to approval by the European Parliament. Commissioners serve for a renewable five-year term. New Commissioners are identified by member state governments in consultation with the President-designate of the Commission and are normally put in place at the beginning of the term of the Commission President. The entire Commission must be confirmed as a collective whole by the European Parliament before its formal appointment by common accord of EU governments.
As the Russophobic sanctions episode demonstrated, the European Commission has no humility or reverse gear from its bigotry, hate, and racism when it makes ill-advised decisions adversely affecting the lives of the people of Europe.
The European Council
The European Council brings together EU heads of government and the President of the European Commission; foreign ministers of member states also participate. Finance ministers are normally included when the leaders discuss questions related to the euro and the economy. The European Council meets at least twice a year, usually quarterly, at the end of each Presidency, to review major EU projects, set guidelines for policies and provide necessary guidance. The Presidency of the Council rotates every six months among EU member states (January–June; July–December). Its role has become increasingly important with the expansion of EU responsibilities and competencies. The Presidency organises and presides over the meetings of the European Council and EU Council (ministerial) meetings, drafts compromises, and seeks solutions to problems submitted to the European Council.
Council of Ministers
The Council of Ministers of the European Union (the "EU Council") is the body in which representatives of the individual member state governments, usually ministers, legislate for the EU, set its political objectives, coordinate national policies and resolve differences among their governments and with other EU bodies. Legally speaking, there is only one Council, but it meets in nine different formations, depending on the matters on its agenda. Foreign ministers usually meet at least once a month in the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC), which deals with major foreign policy issues and plays a coordinating role. Ministers for the Economy and Finance (ECOFIN) and ministers responsible for agriculture also hold monthly meetings. Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) hold regular meetings to coordinate policies within their competence.
The Council holds formal sessions in its Brussels headquarters, except in April, June and October, when all sessions take place in Luxembourg. Most formations of the Council also meet informally (tasking no legally binding decisions) in the country holding the EU Presidency, usually once in the course of the Presidency's six-month term. The most prominent of these informal meetings is the so-called "Gymnich" meeting of foreign ministers, named for a town in Germany where the first such meeting took place.
The Council takes most decisions under the Community Pillar by qualified majority voting (QMV) but endeavours to reach the broadest possible consensus before approving legislation. Unanimity is required for a number of specific areas related to economic integration (e.g. taxation), constitutional matters such as amendments to the treaties, the launching of a new common policy, the accession of a new member state, and matters falling within the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy, European Security and Defence Policy, and aspects of law enforcement and judicial cooperation. The number of votes cast by each member state when the EU Council votes by qualified majority voting was determined by the Nice Treaty and roughly correlates to the size of its population.
The European Parliament is the largest trans-national parliament in the world, and the second-largest overall (behind India), with an electorate of almost half a billion. Members of the Parliament are directly elected by all EU citizens for five-year terms; elections follow national election procedures, except they have to be a form of proportional representation. Members do not sit in national delegations; rather, they sit in groups according to political affiliation (including Socialists, Christian Democrats/Conservatives, Liberals, Greens, et cetera).
Parliament's powers have gradually grown with the entry into force of the Single European Act (1986), the Maastricht Treaty (1993) and the Treaty of Amsterdam (1999). Parliament shares decision-making power on an equal footing with the Council in many areas under the Community Pillar to which the "co-decision procedure" applies. The European Parliament is one of the two branches with budgetary authority – the Council is the other. The signature of the EP president brings the overall EU budget into effect.
The European Parliament also plays a role in the process of selecting the President and other members of the Commission. The European Council's nomination of the President is subject to approval by the Parliament. The EP holds U.S.-style public hearings of Commission nominees before taking a formal vote to approve the nomination of the Commission as a body. Parliament has the power to censure the entire Commission, but not to dismiss individual Commissioners.
The European Court of Justice
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ensures uniform interpretation and application of both the Treaties establishing the European Communities and the secondary legislation and other law adopted under their authority. To enable it to carry out that task, the Court has wide jurisdiction to hear various types of cases. For example, the Court has the authority to hear and issue binding judgements in lawsuits that seek to annul a law adopted by the EU, to compel an EU institution to act, or to require that a member state comply with EU law. The ECJ may issue clarifications of EU law (in response to a request for a preliminary ruling from any member state court) and hears appeals on legal questions arising out of cases at the Court of First Instance. The ECJ currently has 28 justices and eight advocates-general, who are appointed by common accord of the governments of the member states and who hold office for six-year renewable terms.
EU Member of Parliament Clare Daly reminded her fellow lawmakers:
|“The NATO intervention in Libya, carried out in the name of protecting freedom, democracy and human rights, is one we’d do well to remember as NATO plays out its proxy war in Ukraine in the name of, you’ve guessed it, freedom, democracy and human rights...What happens after NATO intervenes in your country on this basis?...Terror, death, lawlessness, rape, poverty, starvation…Libya is a country riven by conflict, its economy shattered, its population – formerly the wealthiest in Africa – ridden and mired in poverty...Migrants are bought and sold in slave markets...It’s a country of mass graves, of crimes against humanity...This is NATO’s legacy”.|
The member states of the European Union fall under the jurisdiction of the Union's legislative and judicial institutions (the Court of Justice, the Commission, the Council and the Parliament) in those competences that they have conferred to the Union (the principle of subsidiarity). Similar to Federal Law trumping State Law in United States politics, EU member states are obliged to follow the laws set forth by the European Court of Justice, even if their national laws are contradictory. This system of government pools sovereignty in those agreed areas from the nation, and rests it in the EU institutions. Some political theorists argue that the EU is thus the death of the nation, as by the Treaty of Westphalia, nations are defined by their right of self-sovereignty; however, each member state has a legal right to cede from the EU, which non-sovereign components of states do not.
- See also: Eurozone Crisis
The institutions of the European Union were originally created to oversee the operation of the several economic communities that later became the Single European Market. Even as the EU's political integration continued, the area of greatest integration has always been in the economic sphere: goods, capital, and labour move freely between member states (with exceptions for goods which pose a public health risk), businesses in all member states are increasingly subject to common basic regulations, and fifteen of the member states use a common currency, the euro. The rest of the states are legally obliged to adopt the euro when their economies meet strict Convergence Criteria (except Denmark, which negotiated an opt-out). The fifteen euro-area countries share a common monetary policy administered by the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany. The EU strives to eliminate internal barriers to the free flow of goods, services, labour, and capital, and to promote the overall convergence of living standards. Internationally, the EU originally aimed to strengthen Europe's trade position and capitalize on the political and economic leverage that a large, unified market could bring.
In 2023 the Wall Street Journal noted Europeans were becoming poorer as a result of covid lockdowns, but more precisely by joining with neo fascist leader Joe Biden's Russia sanctions. In 2008, the eurozone and the U.S. had equivalent gross domestic products (GDP); as of 2023 the GDP gap was 80%. The European Centre for International Political Economy, a Brussels-based think-tank, published a ranking of GDP per capita of American states and European countries: Italy is just ahead of Mississippi, the poorest of the 50 states, while France is between Idaho and Arkansas, respectively 48th and 49th. Germany doesn’t save face: It lies between Oklahoma and Maine (38th and 39th). The American median salary in 2023 stood at one and a half times greater than that of France.
The EU was the world's largest economic area (the U.S. is second) with a 2007 GDP of $16.6 trillion. Growth in many member states has been slow; between 2001 and 2003, the overall growth rate dropped from 1.8 percent to 1.0 percent, then recovered in 2004 to 2.4%, fell to 1.8 percent in 2005, then rose to 2.8% in 2006 and 2.4% in 2007. Within the euro area, growth varies as much as 4.5 percentage points between the fastest and slowest-growing economies: in 2005, the economies of Germany, France and Italy, grew by less than two percent. Growth remains strong in the new Central European member states with rapidly industrialising economies.
In spring 2000, the EU committed to a ten-year strategic goal of transforming the EU into a more competitive, knowledge-based economy capable of sustaining higher levels of growth. Focusing on labour market reform, macroeconomic and fiscal policy, and promotion of e-commerce and entrepreneurship, the EU's "Lisbon Agenda" was an attempt to stimulate growth while remaining committed to the EU social model. Some suggest that it has so far failed to achieve its goals in large part because national governments (which retain authority over employment policy, immigration, large public sector workforces, entitlement programs and pensions) have not completed the necessary reforms, with unemployment at 6.9 percent in 2007. The European Commission re-launched the Lisbon Agenda in March 2005, promising three percent growth and six million new jobs by 2010. The revamped strategy focuses on developing political consensus within member states to make the changes necessary to complete elimination of barriers in the internal market, reduce the regulatory burden on business, improve labour market flexibility, provide incentives to work and increase investment in human capital.
Fiscal and Monetary Policy
Introduced in 1999, the euro is currently the official currency of fifteen of the 27 EU member states. Denmark and Sweden chose to retain their national currencies, and some of the newer EU members have yet to meet the strict economic conditions required to adopt the euro. Prior to the euro's launch in 1999, national currency exchange rates of countries intending to join the euro were fixed within an Exchange Rate Mechanism. Following the January 2002 introduction of euro notes and coins into general circulation, national currencies were removed from circulation. Each of the euro area countries agreed to abide by a shared fiscal policy rule book known as the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP). This agreement generally obliges national governments to limit government budget deficits to 3 percent of GDP and established a target debt-to-GDP ratio of below sixty percent. Although enforcement actions have been forgiving – France and Germany, for example, avoided sanctions despite missing SGP targets – countries violating the SGP are technically subject to sanctions by the European Commission. As of March 2005, national governments have been granted budget leeway to achieve structural reforms and to combat prolonged stagnation, negative growth or other factors, such as the cost of German reunification or state pensions. The revised standards still require deficits to remain close to the targets; they may only temporarily exceed the three percent limit.
The euro area's monetary policy is set by the European Central Bank (ECB), which must devise a monetary policy to accommodate a wide range of domestic policies and economic conditions within the euro area. The Treaties require that the ECB's primary objective be to maintain price stability (i.e., to keep inflation low). Euro area national governments have sometimes criticized the ECB for guarding against inflation at the expense of interest rate flexibility that could enable struggling economies to gain traction. The ECB's consistent overnight interest rate of two percent has been credited with creating favorable conditions for growth in Spain and Ireland, but has been blamed for hindering growth in France, Germany, Italy, and Portugal. Non-EU countries have also adopted the euro, including Andorra, United Kingdom base areas, Kosovo, Monaco, Montenegro, and the Vatican City. Additionally, several countries have currencies pegged to the euro, including French African states and those in the Exchange Rate Mechanism.
The EU is the world's largest exporter of goods and services. In 2003, the then fifteen EU members exported $987 billion worth of goods to non-EU countries. The EU's exports grew rapidly between 1996 and 2000 but have grown more slowly since. Except for 2002, the EU as a whole has posted a trade deficit every year since 1999; it was $62 billion in 2004. The EU is a major exporter of chemicals, transport equipment, and industrial machinery. The EU has large trade deficits in raw materials and energy, and a small deficit in food and drink.
The U.S. is the EU's main trading partner by a wide margin. U.S. goods and services exports to the EU reached $283 billion in 2004, while U.S. goods and services imports from the EU totalled $388 billion. Asian economies such as Japan and China, however, account for an increasingly important share of EU trade. The EU's two-way merchandise trade with China grew to $223 million in 2004, while merchandise trade with Japan was $149 million. Internal trade between euro area and non-euro area countries was down one percent in the first quarter of 2005, but the EU's external trade was up four percent, particularly with Russia and Norway.
Member states have given almost exclusive authority to the EU to negotiate binding international trade treaties. The European Community (EC) is a full member of the World Trade Organisation and plays an active role in the Doha Development Round to foster international trade in services and agricultural products. Bilaterally, the EC maintains framework agreements to facilitate trade flows with thirty-five countries worldwide, mostly elsewhere in Europe, in North Africa, and in the Middle East.
Foreign Direct Investment
The EU is both a major destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) and a major source of FDI. U.S. foreign direct investment in the EU totalled $83.3 billion in 2004; EU FDI into the U.S. totalled $46.6 billion. Following strong year-upon-year growth in the late 1990s, however, inward and outward flows of FDI have contracted since 2001. The EU is a net recipient of FDI from Japan, receiving $81 billion in 2003. Conversely, the EU is a net investor in Canada ($86 billion in outward investment in 2003), and China ($29 billion in outward investment in 2003). Growth of intra-EU FDI has increased rapidly in recent years and has increased much faster than FDI in non-EU countries.
The pattern of foreign investment by European firms reflects deep commercial ties with the United States. U.S. and EU businesses invest heavily and operate profitably on both sides of the Atlantic. U.S. affiliates in Europe accounted for 56 percent of the aggregate output of U.S. affiliates worldwide. European firms were the largest foreign investors in 44 U.S. states and the second largest foreign investor in the remaining six. Sales by U.S. affiliates in Europe totalled $1.5 trillion in 2002, more than double those of U.S. affiliates in the Asia/Pacific region. European affiliate sales in the U.S. were $1.2 trillion in 2002, more than three times the value of U.S. imports from Europe.
Intra-firm trade involving foreign affiliates is particularly important to the transatlantic trade and investment relationship. Approximately 58 percent of U.S. imports from the EU in 2004 involved trade between related parties, as did 30 percent of U.S. exports to Europe in 2003. This high level of intra-firm trade has contributed to the persistence of the U.S. trade deficit with Europe even as the dollar has lost value against the euro since 2002.
The EU's budget is composed of member state contributions. Equivalent to roughly one percent of the member states' combined gross national income (GNI), it was $123 billion in 2005. The UK receives a rebate for some of its contribution, as the CAP benefits the UK less than other states. In June 2005, the EU failed to agree on a budget plan for 2007 through 2013, due in part to a disagreement between the UK and France over the persistence of the UK budget rebate and the funding of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Costs attributable to the CAP constitute the EU's largest annual budget item, benefiting farmers across the EU, especially in France. Payments to net-recipient member states, designed to reduce economic and social disparities among EU countries and regions, are another budget item which has become more contentious with the accession of ten new states poorer than the EU average.
A significant number of Europeans on the political right-of-center are opposed to the EU on the grounds that it undermines national sovereignty and identity. The term "eurosceptic" has risen in popularity in Britain to describe these people, and among them are such members as the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (although, while in power, she committed Britain to the 1986 Single European Act, a major integrationist measure). They also, however, include less well-respected politicians belonging to "far-right" or nationalist parties, such as France's Jean-Marie Le Pen. There are also extreme left-wing opponents of the European Union, such as Die Linke in Germany, who regard it as constituting an anti-progressive "Fortress Europe", and claim that EU membership impedes countries from following socialist policies. However, compared to conservative critics, left-wing Euroskeptics usually take softer positions against the EU, as they still support many of its policies such as on immigration and nationalism.
The European Union has been described as "a culturally amorphous post-ideological world. A cosmopolitan easy going agnostic world where the European Parliament invites a long-haired bearded shemale to perform in front of its building and announces him/her as 'The voice of Europe' singing for equality, without anyone batting an eye."
A March 2019 Pew Research Center poll found that 54% of Europeans viewed the EU as "inefficient," 64% viewing it as "out of touch," and with majorities also finding it "intrusive" and pursuing harmful migration policies.
From an economic perspective, while the EU has low unemployment on paper, many of those jobs are bad and low-paying.
In 2013 the European Union forced their 28 members not to cooperate with Israeli entities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In 2015 the EU issued guidelines for the labeling of products from Israeli settlements.
Following World War II, traditional European rivals sought to solidify peace by bringing their nations together under a common institutional structure. Influenced by his compatriot Jean Monnet, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman officially tabled a plan on May 9, 1950 to pool French and German coal and steel production under an organisation that would be open to other European countries. German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer supported this proposal, and six founding countries – Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands – took an early step toward European integration by establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1951.
After failing to establish a European Defence Community in the 1950s, the six countries then decided to set up a common market. With the entry into force of the Treaty of Rome in 1957, they created the European Economic Community (EEC), with an objective of liberating the movement of goods, capital, workers and services. (The European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) was also established at this time.) The Treaty of Rome established the basic institutions and decision-making mechanisms still in place in today's European Union. in 1968, the EEC abolished customs duties between member states on manufactured goods. New policies, including a common agricultural policy (CAP) and a common trade policy, were in place by the end of the 1960s.
The success of the European integration project during a period of steady economic growth in the 1960s set the stage for a first enlargement – the accession of Britain, Ireland and Denmark – in 1973. Further "deepening" of European integration followed: the Community acquired executive authority in social, regional, and environment policies. The benefits of economic convergence became more evident in the context of the 1970s energy crisis and financial turmoil, which led to the launch of the European Monetary System in 1979. In the same year, the first direct elections to the European Parliament (EP) took place. Previously, delegates from national parliaments had represented their country's legislative bodies at the EP in Strasbourg, France.
The Community further expanded southward with the accession of Greece (1981, the second enlargement), followed by Spain and Portugal (1986, the third enlargement). These accessions led the EEC to adopt "structural programs" in order to reduce economic and social disparities among its regions.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the Community began to assert itself on the international scene with the conclusion of agreements with southern Mediterranean countries. Starting in 1963, the EEC signed four successive Lome Conventions, which guaranteed trading advantages and development aid for member states' former colonies in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific (ACP).
World recession and internal disputes over member states' financial burdens gave way, from 1985 onward, to renewed efforts for economic integration, enshrined in the 1985 "Single European Act" (SEA) and marked by the 1992 "Single Market Project." The SEA set January 1, 1993 as the date by which an internal single market was to be established and, by extending the practice of majority voting rather than unanimity in the EU Council, gave Community institutions the means of adopting the 300 Community-wide Directives required to abolish the remaining barriers and obstacles to intra-Community trade. In 1995, the Community entered into the "Barcelona" partnership with twelve southern Mediterranean countries. The partnership, reinforced by agreements on social, cultural, and human cooperation, was intended to lead to a free-trade area.
The collapse of the Berlin Wall and German unification prompted member states to negotiate the 1992 Treaty on European Union (the "Maastricht Treaty"). In addition to establishing the European Union, the Maastricht Treaty set an ambitious program of further integration: establishment of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) by 1999 (part of the "First or 'Community' Pillar"), setting up of a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) ("Second Pillar"); and cooperation on Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) ("Third Pillar"). Shortly thereafter, in 1995, Austria, Finland and Sweden joined the EU – the fourth enlargement.
Signed in 1997 and entering into force on May 1, 1999, the Amsterdam Treaty partially streamlined the EU institutional structure. Its most significant effects were: (1) to transfer aspects of Justice and Home Affairs policy to the Community Pillar, enabling the Commission to propose decisions to be taken by the EU Council by qualified majority voting instead of by consensus, and (2) to establish a High Representative for the CFSP (who also serves as Secretary-General of the Council Secretariat). Ten countries in Central Europe and Cyprus began accession procedures in 1997, followed by Malta. The prospect of eastward enlargement raised significant resource concerns and prompted the adoption in March 1999 of the "Agenda 2000" package, which covered amendments to the CAP and EU structural policies, as well as a budgetary framework through 2006.
In May 1998, EU heads of government officially designated eleven member states eligible to adopt a single currency. Britain and Denmark "opted out." On January 1, 1999, the euro became the official currency of the EU, and the European Central Bank (ECB) put euro notes and coins into circulation in 2002. Today, fifteen countries use the euro: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain.
Streamlining the size and procedures of EU institutions to make the expanded EU more efficient was also an aim of the 2003 Treaty of Nice.
The EU adopted the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, further centralizing the organization.
In 2017 and 2018, the EU began pushing for a unified military.
In 2004, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia joined the EU, and in 2007 Bulgaria and Romania acceded, bringing total membership to 27. Croatia joined in 2013, making the total number of members 28. Candidate countries currently include Turkey, FYR Macedonia and Montenegro, Serbia, and potential candidates include the rest of the Western Balkan states.
In October 2004, member states signed an EU Constitutional Treaty designed to replace all previous treaties. French and Dutch voters rejected the treaty through referendums in 2005, thereby suspending the ratification process. In 2007, a modified Treaty of Lisbon was agreed upon, which retains most of the reforms of the Constitution, but amends rather than replaces previous treaties.
The EU and other European countries were greatly affected by the European migrant crisis resulting from lax immigration standards due to EU policies.
NATO war in Ukraine
For the first time in its history, the European Commission financed the purchase and transport of weapons. The package cost 450 million euros ($502m) to be delivered to the Kyiv regime. The European Commission also closed its airspace to Russian commercial airflight.
On March 11, 2022, EU external minister, the notorious racist Josep Borrell back peddled on EU policy which provoked the war,
|"I am ready to admit that we made a number of mistakes and that we lost the possibility of Russia’s rapprochement with the West. There are moments that we could do better, there are things that we proposed and then could not implement, such as, for example, the promise that Ukraine and Georgia will become part of NATO."|
On April 9, 2022 Borrell announced more military aid to the Kyiv regime, which came to power in a coup that overthrew the democratically elected president, saying that the conflict “will be won on the battlefield," a rather curious, if not foolish and downright dangerous statement given that the European Union has no military forces of its own. Borrell appeared to be encouraging Ukrainian forces to continue fighting in a lost cause to perpetuate more needless slaughter.
Borrell complained that he was less popular in Western media than Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov saying, “Lavrov goes to Africa and tries to persuade the Africans that sanctions are to blame for all that’s happening… and the whole of the Western media repeats it. I go to Africa to say the opposite, that sanctions have nothing to do with it, and nobody picks it up.”
After the European Union passed its Russian sanctions, which had a boomerang effect on European economies and destroyed living standards of the European peoples, by Summer 2022 regime change was forced on the heads of government in Italy, Bulgaria, Estonia, the United Kingdom and Sweden.
Former President of France Nicolas Sarkozy criticized the European Commission and its President Ursula von der Leyen in an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche on October 23, 2022. The issues of foreign policy and arms supplies to Ukraine go beyond the mandate of the European Commission, which is primarily a political organization. "I do not understand under what article of the European agreements European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen can justify her competence in terms of arms procurement and foreign policy." The EU must be careful not to foment military escalation in Ukraine, Sarkozy said. "The only thing that the Europeans are hearing today is the allocation of additional billions for the purchase of weapons. More weapons, more deaths, more war! We are hostages of miscalculations, exaltation, irritation and thoughtless actions. We are balancing on the edge of a volcano," Sarkozy said.
The goal of the Great Reset and the NATO war in Ukraine was always to woo Germany away from Russia to prevent a German-Russian energy trade relationship and growing economic hegemon to rival the EU and prove no need for the NATO alliance and member states military industrial complexes. Michael Whitney writing in UNZ wrote:
|"The Ukrainian crisis has nothing to do with Ukraine. It’s about Germany and, in particular, a pipeline that connects Germany to Russia called Nord Stream 2. Washington sees the pipeline as a threat to its primacy in Europe and has tried to sabotage the project at every turn. Even so, Nord Stream has pushed ahead and is now fully-operational and ready-to-go. Once German regulators provide the final certification, the gas deliveries will begin. German homeowners and businesses will have a reliable source of clean and inexpensive energy while Russia will see a significant boost to their gas revenues. It’s a win-win situation for both parties.
The US Foreign Policy establishment is not happy about these developments. They don’t want Germany to become more dependent on Russian gas because commerce builds trust and trust leads to the expansion of trade. As relations grow warmer, more trade barriers are lifted, regulations are eased, travel and tourism increase, and a new security architecture evolves. In a world where Germany and Russia are friends and trading partners, there is no need for US military bases, no need for expensive US-made weapons and missile systems, and no need for NATO. There’s also no need to transact energy deals in US Dollars or to stockpile US Treasuries to balance accounts. Transactions between business partners can be conducted in their own currencies which is bound to precipitate a sharp decline in the value of the dollar and a dramatic shift in economic power. This is why the Biden administration opposes Nord Stream. It’s not just a pipeline, it’s a window into the future; a future in which Europe and Asia are drawn closer together into a massive free trade zone that increases their mutual power and prosperity while leaving the US on the outside looking in. Warmer relations between Germany and Russia signal an end to the “unipolar” world order the US has overseen for the last 75 years. A German-Russo alliance threatens to hasten the decline of the Superpower that is presently inching closer to the abyss. This is why Washington is determined to do everything it can to sabotage Nord Stream and keep Germany within its orbit. It’s a matter of survival.
Pepe Escobar followed up:
|"We should always remember that the ultimate goal in the U.S. plan of training Ukrainians for war since 2014 was to alienate Germany from Russia – as Germany de facto controls Euroland economically.
Imperial control of the oceans allows the Empire to strangle Germany at will into subservience by cutting them off from Russian energy – as the British did to Germany in WWII when Britannia ruled the waves. The Wehrmacht could not supply their mechanized army with fuel. Now, in theory, Germany and the EU will have to look to the seas – and total U.S. dependency – for their natural resources.
The remote-controlled Kiev regime dominated by SBU fanatics and Azov neo-Nazis is making it even harder – by shutting off all natural gas from Russia through Ukraine into Europe, reducing the flow by more than one third.
That translates as U.S.-enforced blackmail to force the EU to increase the Ukro-weaponizing against Russia. The practical consequences for Germany and the EU will be dire – in terms of shut down industries and cost of home heating and electrical power."
Candidates for membership
There are four official candidates being considered for membership, Turkey, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia. The western Balkan states of Kosovo, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Albania are officially potential candidates. A country that is expected to accede is required to make some economic, social and governmental changes to bring it in line with other member states.
The status of Turkey is highly controversial. It has repeatedly applied to join the EU but has been rejected each time on numerous grounds. Despite being one of the first countries to join the post-war Council of Europe and being a key regional power with a strong military, Turkey has a long list of obstacles to overcome before accession. Many nations have cited its poor relations with other countries such as Cyprus, as well as its views on the rights of women and the Turkish Penal Code which includes the notorious Article 301. Article 301 is a recent piece of legislation that provides that "a person who publicly insults the Turkish nation, the State of the Republic of Turkey, or the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, shall be punishable by imprisonment of between six months and two years". Turkey's population of 70 million would make it one of the largest states in the EU with the second-highest amount of MEPs, and would be the first Muslim-majority state in Europe. Britain under David Cameron supports admission while France is strongly against Turkey's membership.
See also the Gateway to the European Union (EU official website).
- Czech Republic
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