Free Membership of the European Union Essay Sample
The European Union is a political, economic and social co-operation consisting of twenty seven independent member states that are largely based on the European community. The union was started after the ratification of the Maastricht treaty by members of the European community in 1993 having more than five hundred million citizens. It was formerly referred to as the European Community (EC) or the European Economic Community (EEC). Since its establishment, the European Union has expanded to include several nations from the central and eastern part of Europe. The union has contributed much to the expansion of the political scope of the European Economic Community, especially on issues regarding foreign and security policy. It has also led to the creation of a central European bank thus leading to the adoption of the euro as a common currency. The member states that have adopted a common currency form the Euro zone.
The EU has developed a single market through having a standardized system of laws that are applicable in all member states. These laws allow for free movement of goods, services, people, and capital between the member states, including the abolition of passport controls by the Schengen agreement between the member states. The union maintains similar policies on issues concerning trade, fisheries, agriculture and regional development. The countries in the European Union include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Bulgaria, Cyprus (Greek part), Czech republic, Estonia, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and united kingdom of great Britain and northern Ireland.
The European Union has got a common foreign and security policy which checks on security issues in the European countries. Sovereignty can be defined as the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a territory. This can be explained in having the power to rule and make laws that rest on a political fact for which no legal explanation can be given to it. A sovereign can also be referred to as a supreme lawmaking authority. National sovereignty is the power of a state to do everything necessary to govern itself such as making, executing and applying laws; making war and peace; forming treaties; engaging in trade with other countries; imposing and collecting taxes. In national sovereignty, the nation is usually superior or has power to the citizens of which it is composed.
National sovereignty is usually affected by European Union membership. The union has three super national institutions: the European Commission, the European parliament and the European court of justice. The council of the EU is the main decision-making body that was set up by the founding treaties in the 1950's. This body represents the member states and the meetings are attended by one minister from each of the EU's national governments. The laws made in these three major institutions overwrite national governmental powers. There are some policies and laws made by the EU that the government has no real say on them and are penalized for not following these rules thus taking away some sort of freedom or choice. Putting into consideration that the governmental powers is what makes a nation sovereign, these other laws made by the EU undermine national sovereignty.
Nation states give up part of their sovereignty especially in signing of treaties or coming into agreement with an EU directive. This removes the right of making independent decision from the national government or parliament in various fields. This can also be attributed to the sharing of sovereignty by coming into consensus in a common action with the EU institutions. This leads to the national government taking part in decisions made by the EU in accordance to its procedures, and no longer holding on to the right to act unilaterally. Therefore the national sovereignty is undermined by not exercising the right to decide unilaterally. The European Union is involved in the ratification of several treaties. It is evident that since the start of the European Union, several treaties have been signed. Usually in making or in ratification of different treaties the national parliament remains free to change or reverse decisions made. Many treaties contain an abrogation clause, with a period of notice. In such cases no problems are bound to arise.
The case of EU becomes slightly different because treaties are intended to be permanent. If the government decides to overthrow an EU measure, the European court would rule this action as illegal. If the government supported by the parliament decides not to comply, a major crisis would arise which would even lead to withdrawal as members of the EU. This greatly undermines the sovereignty of a nation since its own government or parliament is not able to make independent decisions. The European Union has a common market and a common currency is applied. In the common market there is free movement of people, goods, services and capital including the abolition of passport controls by the Schengen agreement between the member states.
This has led to major sharing of sovereignty between the member states since they have to make common policies regarding to the common market. Having the single market and a common currency is viewed as a positive step though the sharing of sovereignty was indispensable to achieve it. However, the use of common currency has slowed down economic growth especially in the bigger economies. For instance, Germany has experienced less competitiveness for her exports since joining the union due to a strong Euro. Italy on the other hand has recorded very poor economic growth of about 1.3% since joining the Euro. Spain has not done well either since joining the Euro with a current account deficit of 8.5% of its Gross Domestic Production as a result of loss of competitiveness. Denying a country the opportunity to use its currency is an infringement to its sovereignty.
The common market has also led to some vices such as international crimes, drug trafficking, money laundering, environmental issues and terrorism. These are issues that require a common action by all member states. The question here is whether there is efficiency in handling of such matters. Therefore, it becomes the role of the heads of governments to ensure that the democratically elected representatives of the member states handle such matters in accordance to the action taken by the European Union.
The European Union therefore becomes responsible in handling of such criminal matters. The dealing of these crimes by the EU is inefficient although the Libson treaty was put in place to look into such matters. This type of shared roles in dealing with criminal matters has several shortcomings and it becomes even better when dealt with by independent nations. The independent nations have the mandate to deal with such criminal issues and its sovereignty is undermined if not granted the opportunity to do so.The member states that are involved in a common market use a common currency. There are several advantages and disadvantages of having this common currency. The coming up of a common currency led to the strengthening of the union. A common currency greatly translates to common monetary and macro-economic policies among the member states. To achieve this is very difficult since the member states are particularly very sensitive in retaining sovereignty in this field.
Many of the European countries are coming into terms to the fact that they are no longer in control of their monetary policies fully. This has led to one of the biggest problems facing Europe today. Most of the member countries are preparing either with enthusiasm or with resignation, to share their currency which they are no longer in control of. It is therefore evident that common currency is directly linked to European unity and the strengthening of the European community construction. Judging it from this point of view it is possible to say that these European states need to redefine the meaning of sovereignty and national autonomy.
The treaty of Libson amends two treaties that comprise the constitutional basis of European Union. That is the Maastricht treaty also known as the treaty on European Union and the treaty of Rome that was established by the European community. This treaty was signed on 13th December 2007 by the EU member states and came into force on December 2009. This treaty has been associated with many shortcomings which infringe the sovereignty of member states. For instance, the treaty denies citizens of majority of the smaller countries such as Ireland their democratic constitutional right to express their decisions during a general election. This translates to end of political freedom and democracy in such countries.
Most of the European Union member states are faced by the problem of immigration with great influx of citizens from former Soviet Union. This has led to coming up with joint policies to curb this problem with indulgence of both member and non-member states that are in Europe. Some of these policies include the passing from one state to another without the use of passports for trade purposes. For instance, there have been reported cases of people migrating illegally into other European countries like Spain from the northern African country of Morocco. This means that the national government and parliament of each member state cannot control the movement of the people from one state to another. This therefore has led to the undermining of the national sovereignty.
The European Union consideration of a common energy policy which includes full market opening, renewable energies and external relations has also affected the sovereignty of the member states. A common EU energy regulator that looks at cross border electricity issues in order to decide on a common grid code is seen as meddling with internal issues of the various countries which in turn can be argued as a threat to the national sovereignty of the member states.
In my opinion, the member states should be given an opportunity to pursue energy policies that suit their case. Australia is a case in point as far as discontentment with this common energy policy is concerned. Her energy minister has argued that the common policy doesn't promote alternative and renewable energy sources which her country believes should be given priority. Adoption of a common energy policy has also been seen as an infringement of sovereignty by countries that believe their energy policies are stronger and more progressive in the sense that the common policy adopted by EU is week on energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.
The agricultural policy adopted by the European Union has also been overly criticized by countries whose economies are not agricultural based. The large amount of subsidy given has been particularly the bone of contention since some countries argue that such has led to unfair competition. This policy has also created environmental problems since it has promoted a large expansion in agricultural production due to the high subsidy. This has allowed farmers to make use of unecological means to increase production such as the use of fertilizers and pesticides which affect the environment negatively. Many countries have criticized the policy since it is not in agreement with their own agricultural policy and they see the idea of imposing it on them as an infringement to their sovereignty.