The European Union Explained: Institutions, Actors, Global Impact

By Andreas Staab | Go to book overview

Preface

The European Union (EU) today differs considerably from the integration project that began in the 1950s. Initially conceived as a way to safeguard peace and enable economic recovery among six Western European countries, the EU has developed into one of the world’s most formidable trading blocs spanning much of the European continent. Its future, however, is very much in flux. The controversies over the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and disagreements concerning policy reforms and how to finance them evoked fundamental disagreements over the future direction of the EU. The Eurozone’s sovereign debt crisis brought economic hardships to many countries which prompted some analysts to conclude that Economic and Monetary Union had indeed been a step too far for European integration. Given the prospect of enlargement to the western Balkans and Turkey, a growing number of member state governments argue for less “Europe,” while others view the events of recent years as compelling reasons for ambitious policy and institutional reforms.

Regardless of the outcome of this debate, the European Union represents a hugely influential vehicle for organizing Europe and constitutes a unique experiment of “deep” international cooperation. Economically, at least until the Eurozone crisis, it has boosted prosperity levels. Politically it has fostered the democratic transition of former fascist and communist dictatorships. It has helped to overcome the artificial division of Europe caused by the Iron Curtain and the Cold War, and has also assumed a global vanguard position in the fight against climate change. On the other hand, the EU has often been criticized for favoring big business over the economic and social needs of its citizens. Others accuse the EU of lacking transparency and accountability in its institutional processes, and

-ix-

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The European Union Explained: Institutions, Actors, Global Impact
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Acronyms xv
  • Tables xix
  • Part One - The Evolution of the European Union 1
  • 1 - Parameters of European Integration 3
  • 2 - Enlarsement 32
  • Part Two - Institutions 47
  • 3 - The European Commission 49
  • 4 - The European Council 56
  • 5 - The Council of Ministers 61
  • 6 - The European Parliament 67
  • 7 - The European Court of Justice 76
  • 8 - Checks and Balances 84
  • Part Three - Policies 91
  • 9 - The Single Market and Competition 93
  • 10 - Regional Rolicy and Cohesion 106
  • 11 - The Common Agricultural Policy 116
  • 12 - Economic and Monetary Union 128
  • 13 - Justice and Home Affairs 141
  • 14 - Common Foreign and Security Policy 151
  • 15 - Trade and the Common Commercial Policy 161
  • 16 - Environment 171
  • 17 - The Sovereign Debt Crisis in the Eurozone 179
  • Outlook- The Future of European Integration 197
  • Notes 205
  • Bibliosraphy 225
  • Index 229
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