The politics and economics of the European Union

Introduction

Political interest in the formation of the European Union started after World War II and was initiated with the unification of the coal and steel industries. The European Union was however officially formed through the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992.

The union is currently composed of 27 states, though there are several other states that hold an interest in joining the union or are involved in the union activities. The diverse number of active member states creates a varied and dynamic political outlook giving the European Union a uniquely transient political structure.

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Political institutions

The authors states in the book that there are four main political institutions in the European Union are the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament. These structures do not exclusively fit into the executive, legislature or judiciary models and therefore the European Union has no clearly identifiable government. The institutions are complementary and interdependent and their function is transitory (Jones 105).

Democracy

According to this book, the vague identity of the political institutions of the European Union according to Jones causes them to lack legitimacy and consequently have little influence on the people (Jones 363). It is therefore difficult to deliver equality among all states and citizens of the European Union, an inherent scenario by default due to political augmentation.

The book also indicates that there is also a low information flow to the common citizen, compounded with ignorance and presuppositions of Brussels being a power hungry and bureaucratic center of power. However People enjoy freedom of movement through out the European Union states (Jones 355).

Recognition and identity

Also illustrated in the book is that the European Union has for a long time suffered from legitimacy deficit. There is no particular orientation in culture or patronage that can be thought of as belonging exclusively to the European Union. The European flag was adopted in 1986, with the 12 stars as a symbol of perfection.

The European anthem was adopted in 1972, though most European Union citizens are not aware of it (Jones 359). There is also the standardization of European Union passports where all passports of member states contain the same badges, are of the same color and shape. So far, the passport has not achieved the unity envisaged by the union (Jones 359). The other identifying symbols according to Robert are the euro currency and the driving license.

Laws and policies

So far, the laws and policies applied to the European Union have been successful in varying degrees, mainly due to the fact that almost every state in the European Union bears different opinions on each law and policy.

Another reason for the different application of the European Union laws according to the book is because of the lack of a clearly defined judicial mechanism responsible for enforcement. Each state has a different judicial system and this has led to the difference in time and manner in which enforcements has occurred (Jones 383).

Membership

This has been a sensitive issue regarding both new and existing member states. There are several countries that show keen interest in joining the European Union but acceptance by the union usually requires voting by the European council and a strict vetting process (Jones 395).

According to the book, existing members also hold different opinions on the European Union and their participation and allegiance to the European Union is disproportionate. The UK has refused to take up the Euro as their currency, and also fear that they might lose their culture and traditions (Jones 398). There has been an existing difference between quantity and quality measurements which the UK feels they need to retain.

Development

Also indicated in the book is that, though the Euro is the commonly used currency, not all states are experiencing development at a consistent pace. The Authors of the book note that States like Germany and France hold much of the economic pillars of the European Union and therefore they are accorded budgetary preference. Similarly, individual states have different industrial and agriculture output, meaning that development and funding is more available to other states.

To preempt these events from further transpiration, the European Union came up with the Trans-European Networks commonly known as TENs, these high priority programs seek to connect all European Union member states with a single energy, transport, environmental and telecommunications infrastructure (Jones 331). The reason why TENs is of such political interest is mainly due to the fact that funding for these programs is from national governments and the private sector rather than the European Union.

Justice

Stated in the book is the fact that the European Union has no clear defined judicial system; rather individual states hold their own judicial and policing institutions. There is however the formation of the European Union justice and home affairs (JHA) docket that will revolutionize the manner in which judicial issues are handled if implemented.

The JHA seeks to coordinate the police, judiciary migration and custom departments of all European Union states. This will effectively alter the way justice is dispensed and the application of laws (Jones 373).

Conclusion

The European Union does indeed have outstanding policy and implementation issues due to the nature of its formation as stated in this book. Member states are not united in their ambitions leading to diverged opinions on almost every policy being implemented.

The EU governing institutions are to some extent powerless in their nature since they have a restricted mandate over their primary and secondary functions. There is therefore an urgent need for a political framework that will not only unite institutions but also unite all common people as well.

Work Cited

Jones, Robert. A. The politics and economics of the European Union: an introductory text. Massachusetts: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2001.

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