Globalization (4) – Political Integration in Europe


Political Integration

Political integration is a constantly debated topic in Europe. Its process is slower than economic and social integration as it directly concerns state sovereignty. Some countries like the UK are skeptical about transferring too much power to Brussels. Nevertheless, there exists some progress over decades of development. Here are two examples.

Example 1: EU power structure 

For details: How does the EU work

eu power structure_eng2

Of the four institutions mentioned above, the European Commission and the European Parliament can best exemplify the achievement of political integration in Europe so far. The European Commission consists of 28 commissioners, including one president. Although each EU member state has a commissioner of its own nationality in the European Commission, all commissioners are under oath to abandon their national interests and must work instead on behalf of the European Union. Disagreement between the European Commission and state leaders are therefore not uncommon.

The European Parliament is a publicly elected institution. Each term lasts for five years. For the latest term (2014-2019) the European Parliament has 751 members. They come from 28 EU member states and are directly elected by EU citizens. The European Parliament represents the second largest democratic electorate in the world (after India).

Example 2: Joining the EU

Candidate countries must be ready for EU political integration. Conditions are as follows:

  • They must have institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities.
  • They must have a functioning market economy and the capacity to cope with competition and market forces in the EU.
  • They must have the ability to take on and implement effectively the obligations of membership, including adherence to the aims of political, economic and monetary union.
  • They must have the consent of the EU institutions and EU member states.
  • They must have the consent of their citizens – as expressed through approval in their national parliament or by referendum.

Appendix: History of the EU

1950 On 9th May 1950, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman gave a speech in which he publicly proposed the idea of a European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). The objective was to establish long lasting peace in Europe.
1951 The ECSC was founded. Members were Belgium, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
1957 These six countries set up another club, the European Economic Community (EEC), for deeper and broader cooperation.
1973 Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom joined the EEC.
1981 Greece joined the EEC.
1986 Portugal and Spain joined the EEC.
1993 The EEC was replaced by the European Union (EU).
1995 Austria, Finland and Sweden joined the EU.
2002 The euro (€) became the official currency of 12 EU countries (now 17).
2004 Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia joined the EU.
2007 Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU.
2013 Croatia became the 28th member state of the EU.