The European Union as a Template

By Nash, Michael L. | Contemporary Review, January 2003 | Go to article overview

The European Union as a Template

Nash, Michael L., Contemporary Review

THE director of Le Monde Diplomatique, Ignacio Ramonet, has written: 'The fast rhythm and deep nature of the geopolitical transformations that have taken place since 1989 impresses, surprises, bewilders... We are still living with the legacy and the shadow, as well as all the opportunities which came after the fall of the authoritarian regimes in Eastern Europe, German re-unification, the USSR implosion and the globalisation of the world economy ...after the strategic scenarios and outline, [there is] a new planetary scenario'.

Part of the new world order has meant an imitation of one of the most extraordinary of political and economic experiments, namely what is now called the European Union. It would probably be more correct to call it a new constitutional experiment, since nothing quite like this had happened before. As Roy Jenkins, sometime President of the Commission in the European Community, has said: 'It is something unique. It is not an analogue of the United States'. Calling the European Union a potential 'United States of Europe' is both emotive and misleading, but the real success and survival of this experiment has led to its being used as a template for other economic unions in the world.

The first one which should be considered is the Black Sea Economic Co-operation Pact (BSEC). The five-year-old regional grouping was formally upgraded to international status when eleven members signed a charter in Yalta, Ukraine, on 6 May 1998. These eleven states, namely Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Georgia, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Greece, were seeking to create a market of 350 million people and to develop mutually advantageous co-operation.

There was also a wider goal: 'greater democracy, peace and development'. One can see in this the goals of the Coal and Steel Community which came out of the Treaty of Paris in 1951. Just as this had followed swiftly on the end of the Second World War, so the Black Sea Pact followed the collapse of Communism in Europe in 1989. The real breakthrough for the Black Sea states had occurred in June 1992 when the heads of the eleven countries had met upon the invitation of the Turkish Government in Istanbul. This summit was successfully concluded with the signing of the historic document 'Summit Declaration on Black Sea Economic Co-operation'. Thus it became a symbol for a new regional cooperation model. But certain questions have to be asked. Greece is already a member of the European Union; Turkey had been an Associate Member on and off since 1962; Romania and Bulgaria are applicant states of the European Union. The question has to be asked: how far east can the European Union successfully extend? This very questi on was considered at the Copenhagen summit last month. Under French and German pressure Turkish membership was delayed for a few more years. The Presidency is now held by Greece, as from January 1. Greece is thus in a unique position to see things from two perspectives.

Turkey was told by the European Union in 1987 that its application for full membership was being given a qualified 'No'. It is natural, therefore, that it should consider other options, and one of these is being a bigger player in another economic union, that of the Black Sea states. It is also natural that this union should draw on the example and the experience of the European Union. It is a case of 'If you can't join it, use it as a template'.

It is interesting, too, that in all previous attempts and designs for European Union, Russia and Turkey are always the two states which have to be excluded, or which have to have special consideration, whether they are called Muscovy and the Sublime Porte, or Russia and Turkey. Here, in the Black Sea Pact, Russia and Turkey have become partners in an adjacent organisation.

The Black Sea Economic Co-operation is based on the principles laid down in the Helsinki Final Act, the follow-up Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) documents, and particularly, in the Paris Charter for a new Europe. …

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