The European Union at 50-Still an Uncertain Destination

By Christiansen, Thomas | Behind the Headlines, March 2007 | Go to article overview

The European Union at 50-Still an Uncertain Destination


Christiansen, Thomas, Behind the Headlines


In Europe, regionalism after 1945 has taken the form of a process of integration that has led to the emergence of the European Union. It was founded, originally as the European Coal and Steel Community, through international treaties among the "original Six" member states, but it has since then expanded to encompass 27 states across the continent. Despite ambitious federalist plans that had been drawn up before, during and after the second world war, the development of the EU has in fact been a gradual process of building up an institutional architecture, a legal framework and a wide range of policies. Initially a purely West European creation borne out of the desire for reconciliation between France and Germany, European institutions were entrusted with the regulation of specific sectors of the economy (coal, steel, agriculture). Over time they have become responsible for an ever increasing range of tasks. At the beginning of the 21st century, these included transport, energy, environmental policy, consumer and health affairs as well as economic and monetary policy, the protection of human rights and coordination in foreign policy and military security, thus encroaching on what many regard as the core of state sovereignty. From very limited beginnings, both in terms of membership and in terms of scope, the European Union has therefore gradually developed into an important political institution whose presence has a significant impact, both internationally and domestically.

This gradual process of European integration has taken place at various levels. The first is the reform of the treaties that first established or subsequently reformed the European Community (Single European Act), later the European Union (i.e. the Maastricht Treaty, Amsterdam Treaty, Nice Treaty, and the Constitutional Treaty). These treaty changes are the result of Intergovernmental Conferences, in which representatives of national governments negotiate the legal framework within which the EU institutions operate. Such treaty changes require ratification in each of the member states in order to come into force because of the significance of achieving agreement among all member states on what have usually been substantial reforms. They are the grand bargains in the evolution of the EU.

Within the framework of these treaties, which are referred to as the Union's 'primary legislation', a number of institutions have more specific tasks and possess a degree of autonomy from the member states. They are responsible for running the day to day affairs of the Union, developing public policies, deciding on the annual budget and passing 'secondary' legislation such as EU directives and regulations.

It is important to recognize that the dynamics of decision making differ significantly across different arenas. Supranational institutions may have considerable autonomy in running the day to day affairs of the Union, but there are important differences between the more integrated areas of economic and social regulation on the one hand, and on the other the more intergovernmental pillars of foreign policy, and police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. In some areas, member states may have to accept decisions that are imposed on them. In others, they will be able to block decisions.

Decisions about treaty change or substantial institutional reforms tend to be dominated by national governments whose right to veto often leads to difficult and lengthy negotiations. But also in this regard, the role of the European institutions is noteworthy. Both Commission and Parliament have a say in the agenda-setting for treaty reform, the Secretariat of the Council of Ministers provides leadership in the course of negotiations, and the European Court of Justice through its case law has had an important role in the development of the fundamental principles governing the institutional life of the European Union.

To understand the integration process, one needs to take account of the role played by both member states and supranational institutions. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The European Union at 50-Still an Uncertain Destination
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.