Thursday, May 27, 2004

The European Union

I am sorry that I have not posted for a long time but with my first exam only being seventeen days away I have been busy with revision (I wish it was only revision that was keeping me busy). I know a lot has happen in the time that I have not been blogging hopefully at some point soon I will be able to cover some of the topics but for now I want to complete my rant about the European Union like I was saying I believe that The European Union is a way of tackling shared problems (environmental issues, international terrorism etc), upholding shared values such as liberty and equality, settling disputes between traditionally fractious neighbours and applying the rule of law to agreements that have been entered into.

During a debate on Britain’s membership of the European Economic Community and the European Union the euro sceptics in my history class started arguing that the European Union was undemocratic because un-elected officials make decisions in Brussels.

This is not true because the European Parliament is directly elected; its 626 Members are elected every five years under a system of proportional representation. The Council of the European Union (formerly known as The Council of Ministers) is made up of government ministers from each Member State and these governments would not participate if they did not have the consent of their citizens. The European Commission (made up of Commissioners appointed by the Member States governments/parliament) does not make any law. It just proposes laws for the European Parliament and the Council to agree, amend or reject, oversee the implementation of EU policies and the budget, enforce European law (jointly with the Court of Justice) and represent the EU on the international stage, for example, in trade negotiations. So the EU is democratic and it can be argued that to an extent the European Parliament elected using a proportional voting system is more democratic then the House of Commons or House of Lords. This happen to be their biggest argument and every time I made any other point they argued that the EU was undemocratic.

Their other argument happen to be that the European Union was out of date in a global world/market.

They happen to concede on this point when a friend argued that similar organisations exist throughout the world citing NAFTA, African Union and the League of Arab States as examples. I then argued that in a world where we share problems such as pollution, international terrorism, manipulation of the earths resources there certainly is a need for organisations such as the EU and if they can tackle these problems and keep peace between neighbouring nations such as France and Germany and help bring peace to non-member states such as the Balkans and Middle East then these organisations are needed.

They then argued that the EU created an unstable market, as there are different rates of growth, unemployment, balance of payment and inflation across the union. They argued that the European Central Bank which was unanswerable to anyone set the Interest Rates for the whole Euro zone which created instability as there were different types of economies across the union.

I argued that the different British regions had different economies and that at time when the South East enjoyed growth and low unemployment which in the long run could lead inflation, the North East or North West was not so lucky and due to the fear of inflation in the South East if the Bank of England would increase interest rates it would be detrimental to the other regions. If this is happening in Britain and has not yet caused any major problem I have no fear that this will occur across the union.

Their final argument happen to be the one that really made me laugh. They argued that the European Union created hostility between member states, their example happen to be that over the issue of military action in Iraq the relationship between member states became very bitter to the extent that it had consequences on other negations and even on last years Eurovision song contest.

For this firstly I have to say that last year Britain deserved nothing at the Eurovision song contest the song was rubbish and the performance was crap. The EU may lead to hostilities between member states but at least it has prevented a war between member states for the last fifty-nine years and we must remember that the two world wars were fought between European nations and led to the death of millions of people.
I then argued that history shows that the rivalry between Germany and France goes back a long way and at its peak resulted in war therefore when I see the German Chancellor and French President sitting around the same table discussing issues trying to come to a consensus and solve an issue it is much better then having them threatening the use of military force against the other.

The European Union has brought its member states security, over the past fifty nine years there has been no war between member states, the European Union allows it citizens to move around freely whether it be for business, work or leisure and the European Union has increased the number and range of jobs for its citizens while increasing the pool of labour for firms that operate within its borders.

The EU has, for almost half a century, been a highly effective stabilising influence in Europe. This has to continue, the European Union must be a force for peace and good. Britain must not be on the sidelines of this great organisation we must fully pleadge ourselves to the Europe Union and fully partipate in all its activities.

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