Friday, June 17, 2011

European Community

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Discuss the main treaties of Europe and their contribution to the development of the E.U.

The European Community (EC) was established by Robert Schuman, a French minister, and Jean Monnet the man responsible for rebuilding the French economy after the Second World War. They believed that Germany should be given help to rebuild but only if they agreed to join an organisation of European states so that the chances of another world war would be less likely.

In 1951 France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg all signed the Treaty of Paris thus creating the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). Their objective was the creation of a common market in relation to the production of coal and steel. The obvious advantage of this initiative was the competitive edge they now had in the production of coal and steel. In 1957, the six member states signed two more treaties in Rome resulting in the European Economic Community (ECC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).

The EEC treaty under the treaty of Rome was concerned with general economic integration achieved by merging the separate interests of the member states into a common market where goods, services and capital could circulate freely. The creation of the EEC required a pooling of resources in areas covered by the EEC treaty. The founders of the EEC gain in peace, stability and economic development as outweighing the inevitable loss of sovereignty.

According to the treaty of Rome the main objectives of the EEC were

-To lay the foundations of an “even closer?union?between the peoples of Europe

-The achievement of economic and social progress by removing trade barriers

-To secure the constant improvement of the living and working conditions of community citizens

-To bring about harmonious economic development across EEC member states.

In order to achieve these objectives a single common market would have to be formed along with an economic and monetary union and progressively harmonising the economic policies of the member states.

The initial aim behind the creation of the EEC was increased integration among member states, but as member states began to discover the benefits of such integration, the membership and power of the community grew. There were three types of integration Economic, Political and Judicial. The gradual development in the attitudes and objectives of the member states is highlighted by the progressive change in name from the European Economic Community (EEC) to the European Community (EC) and then to the European Union (EU).

There are five main Treaties of Europe, which all to a certain extent contribute to the development of the European Union. These treaties are Treaty of Rome (1957), Single European Act (1986), Maastricht Treaty, Treaty of Amsterdam and Treaty of Nice (2000).

The treaty of Rome, a.k.a. the EEC treaty, was signed on the 5th March 1957. It was designed to set up an economic community or single European market in which people, goods and capital could move freely without restriction across national borders. It’s primary aims were economic but it also addressed social ideas and its intention was to lay the foundations of a union which would draw together not only the economies, but the citizens of the member states as well. Later, the EEC treaty became known as the EC treaty, dropping the "e" for economic to highlight the importance of their social ideas. As well as creating the EEC and establishing the community’s institutions, it established a customs union, external tariffs, free movement of goods, services, capital and labour across member states. These measures ensured the creation of economic conditions similar to those in place within the market of a single state.

The Single European Act (SEA) was signed in 1986 and it represented the first major revision to the EEC treaty and contrary to what the name suggests this is a treaty and not an act of Parliament. The treaty’s objective was to amend the Community’s founding treaties i.e. EEC, ECSC and Euratom. It extended its competence to include issues such as consumer protection, environmental policy, health and safety issues, academic, professional and vocational qualification research etc. The SEA was part of the plan to complete the internal market of the community by the end.

The SEA act made a significant contribution to the advance of Parliament’s powers from those laid down in the Treaty of Rome. The SEA introduced the co-operation procedure, which enhanced the powers of the Parliament. This involves the Council Commission and Parliament coming together in a co-op procedure, which continues to apply to decision-making regarding aspects of economic and monetary policy. It is detailed under Art. 5 of the SEA.

The aims of the SEA stated in preamble as being “determined to work together to promote democracy on the basis of the fundamental rights recognised in the constitutions and laws of the member states in the convention for the protection of Human Rights and the European convention and fundamental freedoms?

The Maastricht treaty was signed in 1991 and it is also known as the Treaty on the European Union (TEU). It has proven to be one of the most influential treaties of the 20th Century. It signals the "birth" of the European Union because before this it was known as the European Community, (EC). The TEU is made up of two main elements, a comprehensive amendment of the Treaty of Rome, with some of the numbered treaties being renumbered. It also sets out a series of political intentions. The treaty an important step in the development of community competence with the creation of inter-governmental "pillars"  European Communities, Common Foreign & Security Policy (CFSP) and Police & Judicial Co-operation in Criminal matters. It amended the Treaty of Rome with the EEC becoming the EU in recognition of a shift away from purely economic objectives. European parliamentary powers increased through the introduction of the “conciliation?procedure and a legislative "veto" in certain circumstances.

It was decided at Maastricht to review the TEU. The major topics under review were

-To examine the legislative role of the European Parliament and other matters outlined in the Maastricht treaty

-To review the number of Commissioners

-To review the weighting of member states votes in the council of ministers

After these topics were highlighted, the Treaty of Amsterdam (TOA) was agreed in June 1997, concluded in October 1997 and then implemented in May 1. It amended the ToR in many ways, the most important being the wholesale renumbering of the articles of the ToR and the TEU. However, this treaty has not achieved much of the institutional reform anticipated but community objectives were expanded further beyond economic commitment, e.g. Art. 1 Treaty of Rome amended allowing the EU to legislate in order to tackle the problem of discrimination.

The aim of the Nice Treaty is to overhaul the institutions of the European Union in preparation for a union of 7 member states rather than the current 1995. Despite long and difficult negotiations through the night during the summit in Nice, from 7th - 11th December 2000, many of the most difficult issues are still unresolved. Most of the changes agreed on at Nice decide how power should be shared out within the European institutions after enlargement. Under the treaty, the number of seats in the European Parliament will be capped, as will the size of the commission. The bigger nations will give up their second commissioner and, eventually, countries will take turns serving on the commission. These amendments have caused problems among existing member states, e.g. Ireland. In June voters in the Irish Republic rejected the treaty leaving its future - and the future of the enlargement process - in doubt. The reason behind this is that Irish citizens believe when more countries join the EU, the less funding they will receive. This will cause the economic growth in Ireland to slow even more due to the lack of European funding which is an obvious disadvantage. Irish workers already feel threatened by low pay economies in Eastern Europe. EU officials insist that preparations for enlargement are going ahead in spite of the no vote, but it is not clear how expansion can continue if the treaty is not ratified.

In conclusion I believe that all the main post war treaties have helped shape Europe into the supreme world power it is today. The commitment to fairer and free trade among the existing and potential member states can only lead to increased economic growth and a better standard of living for all Europeans. However the current uncertainty within the Union is worrying. One of the Union’s most influential members, the U.K. refuses to join the EMU despite all the advantages and Ireland’s refusal to support the Treaty of Nice. Europe has now evolved from a divided war torn continent to a strong prosperous Union, which provides its citizens with freedom to work in any of the member states.

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