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The European Union Extended Essay

4864 words - 19 pages

1. Why the European Union?PeaceThe idea of a united Europe was once just a dream in the minds of philosophers and visionaries. Victor Hugo, for example, imagined a peaceful 'United States of Europe' inspired by humanistic ideals. The dream was shattered by two terrible wars that ravaged the continent during the first half of the 20th century.But from the rubble of World War II emerged a new kind of hope. People who had resisted totalitarianism during the war were determined to put an end to international hatred and rivalry in Europe and to build a lasting peace between former enemies. Between 1945 and 1950, a handful of courageous statesmen including Konrad Adenauer, Winston Churchill, Alcide de Gasperi and Robert Schuman set about persuading their peoples to enter a new era. There would be a new order in western Europe, based on the interests its peoples and nations shared together, and it would be founded upon treaties guaranteeing the rule of law and equality between all countries.Robert Schuman (French Foreign Affairs Minister) took up an idea originally conceived by Jean Monnet and, on 9 May 1950, proposed setting up a European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). In countries that had once fought each other, the production of coal and steel would be pooled under a shared authority - the 'High Authority'. In a practical but also richly symbolic way, the raw materials of war were being turned into instruments of reconciliation and peace.This bold and generous move was a big success. It was the start of more than half a century of peaceful co-operation between the member states of the European Communities. With the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992, the Community institutions were strengthened and given broader responsibilities, and the European Union (EU) as such was born.The EU worked hard to help unify Germany after the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. When the Soviet empire fell apart in 1991, the countries of central and eastern Europe, having lived for decades under the authoritarian yoke of the Warsaw Pact, quite naturally decided that their future lay within the family of democratic European nations.Safety and securityBut Europe in the 21st century still has to deal with issues of safety and security. These things can never be taken for granted. Every new step in world development brings with it not only opportunities but also risks. The EU has to take effective action to ensure the safety and security of its 15 (and soon 25) member states. It has to work constructively with the regions just beyond its borders - North Africa, the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Middle East. The tragic events of 11 September 2001 in New York and Washington made us all aware of how vulnerable we are when fanaticism and the spirit of vengeance are let loose.The EU institutions are central to Europe's success in inventing and operating a system that has brought real and lasting peace to a large area of the planet. But the EU must also protect its military and strategic...

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