- A very stable political system
- Very advanced infrastructure
- Slow industrial growth (except for some Eastern countries)
- Demographic shrinking in most EU - Countries
The European Union consists of 27 independent countries
|Country||GDP in millions of USD|
|United Kingdom []||2,674,085|
|Czech Republic []||217,077|
The European Union is an economic and, increasingly, political alliance, currently comprised of 27 independent states, and therefore the Union cannot be subsumed as a country. According to the International Monetary fund the European Union is the largest domestic market with a GDP of 18,394,115 millions of USD. However, the economic importance of this structure cannot only be understood by stating numbers, in order to understand the importance of this union for Europe, as well as the world, one has to look at its historical, as well as political structure.
After the Second World War, rather than destroying the German economy, as the Allied Powers had done after the Great War, it was decided that if the mistakes of the Treaty of Versailles were to be repeated, there would be another war in Europe within the next twenty to thirty years. So instead a policy of conciliation and integration was promoted, which would unite the war important industrial sectors in Europe, thereby creating an effective hindrance for future conflicts within the Middle- & West European powers. Starting in 1951 the European Coal and Steel Community consisting of France, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg and Germany was founded. From there on several other Unions were founded; i.e. Euratom, the European Economic Community, as well as many others. At the same time the cooperation in Communities also grew in size in terms of member nations. On November 1st, 1993 the European Union as known today was established through the Treaty of Maastricht.
The European Union is made up of three so called pillars.
- First Pillar: The former European Economic Community, now called European Union, as well as Euratom; the most important pillar of the three if one wants to understand the economic makeup of the Union.
- Second Pillar: A common Foreign and Security Policy.
- Third Pillar: Police and Justice Co-operation in criminal matters
As stated above, the first pillar consisting of the European Union is the most important part to understand the European market. It is a cooperation in the following areas: agricultural policy, tariff union & domestic market, adjustment policy, trade policy, economic - & monetary union, education and culture, research & ecological policy, health policy, consumer protection & welfare policy. Euratom is responsible for the cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear technology.
The Four Freedoms is a common term for several treaty provisions, secondary legislations and court decisions that protect the free movement of goods, capital, services, people and labor within the European Union. These freedoms are:
- freedom of movement of goods
- freedom of movement of capital
- freedom of movement of services
- freedom of movement of persons
These freedoms are applicable not only for citizens of the European Union, but also for legal entities.
[I will further elaborate on this over the course of the next few weeks.]