Economic and Monetary Union in European Integration

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Introduction

The European Union has emerged as a global actor as a result of European integration. EU policy systems are developed from various national policies for purposes of obtaining leverage and consensus on such issues as foreign affairs, economy, security, defense and immigration. The European Union continues to play an important role in international politics through it institutions and cooperation from member states.

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National politics of the EU member states, their policies and constitutions remain independent of the EU institutions as far as developing a common foreign, security and defense policy is concerned(Vogler& Bretherton 12). The development of a common monetary policy and currency by the European Union has positioned it as an important global actor. Enlargement of the European Union into the neighborhood territories has equally inspired the development of the crucial foreign policy which integrates national interests on board. Enlargement has necessitated a revolution on immigration policies with emphasis on international migrations and economic challenges. The development of the European Union as a global actor on political, social and economic issues is based on several factors.

Background

First and foremost, the European Union represents Europe’s super power comparable to other global powers such as the United States and China. The EU thus creates a platform for the influential participation of European countries on the global stage. Smaller European countries are integrated with their larger neighbors with different economic and social prosperity developing the necessary synergy for global influence. The summation of the EU member states has a multiplier effect on the global stage than the contribution of independent nations on any particular issue (Rhodes 8).

The second factor lies in the EU enlargement which has shifted the focus of the EU institutions from Europe to the rest of the world through the development of a common foreign policy, the neighborhood policy and the European Security and Defense policy. The greatest impact of the European Union globally has been developed around the transformation of the European Economic Community into the Common Market (Sjursen& Peterson 15). There exists a challenge with regard to the transfer of authority from sovereign member states to the European Union. There is progress on the cooperation of European countries as regards economic issues such as the Common Market and the use of the Euro currency.

Policies on external trade are deliberated at EU institutions by delegates from participating countries with remarkable success. The adoption of the Euro as a common European currency has positioned the EU on the international monetary diplomacy. However, sensitive issues touching on sovereignty, prestige; immigration and security are often sidelined by member states at the EU level. The Maastricht Treaty developed “The EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy” addressing the salient features.

The decision making process for the formation of a common foreign policy takes into account the variety of national policies on foreign matters. The EU economic policy provides the background for donor aid from Europe to the rest of the world (Scartezzini& Foradori 18). There exists also balance between the EU economic authority and political influence.

The development of the defense policy into an elaborate Community policy towards the realization of a Common Foreign and Security Policy is an important pillar for the European Union influence in the world. However, the EU has performed poorly with respect to conflict resolution and implementation of international foreign policy (Leech 19). The political stalemate and subsequent civil war in Yugoslavia exposed the weaknesses of the European Union in conflict resolution apart from its lukewarm approach in developing a common foreign and security policy. Significant cooperation by member states has been developed around sections that reinforce their national interests. For instance, France has developed a foreign policy that is unique from the United States based on the EU as a template.

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On the other hand, Germany has developed its foreign policy around the statutes of the EU common foreign policy framework in order to repair its international image after the Second World War. In essence, different countries in Europe rely on the European Union to develop fruitful foreign policies and security interventions without being directly involved in treaties. This is particularly important for smaller countries which may not have influence in international politics on their own. The centrality of the European Union in coordinating foreign policy of member states develops the basis for economic integration and maintenance of security (Smith 20).

Marketing integration

The logic for market integration is developed through a system where barriers to trade are replaced with current structures that promote the exchange of goods and services within a common market. In this case, independent national policies are adopted into the common EU market provided they do not infringe on free trade between countries. The European Union is therefore an important trading power especially among its member states. Economic and monetary union is important for the future unity of European integration (Stein& Marsh 14).

Monetary union is central in coordinating financial aid to Eastern European countries as well as the rest of the world through the structured funds. Economies of countries that are less wealthy such as Ireland, Spain, Greece and Portugal are slowly catching up with the other developed states. This has ensured significant progress as far as the unity of the European Union is concerned. Real benefits of the union are realized through the harmonization of costs related to businesses and labor across member countries. The geographical distribution of economies of scale within the community is also dependent on monetary integration.

Aid and development

The European Union extends the largest amount of donor aid to the world’s poorest nations as well as development assistance to trading partners. Political dialogue, trade and aid are used by the European Union when conducting international affairs. The European Development Fund further development aid to African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) nations in addition to the contributions of separate member states. Foreign aid from the European Union and member states is often squandered by receiving countries due to rampant corruption (Vogler& Bretherton 16). The emphasis is therefore shifting from giving donations to third world countries to cooperation on trade.

The World Trade Organization has reiterated this development as an important pillar in fostering sustainable development in third world countries instead of the donations. The ACP nations especially those from the African continent have expressed their concerns on the EU’s preference for free trade in the world since most of them in dire need of foreign aid in order to balance existing differences in economic development across the globe(Rhodes 10).

There has been remarkable involvement of the European Union on issues in Central and Eastern Europe. “The Euro-Arab dialogue, pact with Central American countries and the association of the South-East Asian Nations” informs the current participation of the European Union in Eastern towards future enlargement. The dialogue between the European Union and the Central and East European countries is based on achieving the objectives of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. Border management and security issues are evaluated in these deliberations towards elimination of international crimes such as drug and human trafficking.

In addition, proliferation of weapons between neighboring borders within a borderless Europe is curtailed through the common security policy. The European Union has therefore been directly involved in establishing independent states from the former Soviet Union and the less developed European countries (Scartezzini& Foradori 20). This was done in order to increase EU political influence in the world with particular interest in Central and Eastern Europe. There is need to balance trade with aid especially in countries with high poverty index such as those in Africa for leverage purposes. The participation of the EU in global trade and foreign aid seeks to promote international prosperity and development.

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Substantial financial assistance has been extended to Afghanistan in view of the war that ensued there against the Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists. This was meant to promote the successful implementation of peace in Afghanistan as well as enhance reconstruction efforts in conjunction with United States. Similar interventions have been actualized by the European Union towards elaborate border controls, visa facilitation, asylum and immigration management across EU member states and its neighborhood.

The EU is a formidable player internationally with regard to economic affairs while its political influence is limited by competing national interests of the participating countries and vested interests (Leech 25). European Political Cooperation (EPC) emerged around the 1970’s as a tool for the synchronization of the separate foreign policies into an integrated system. In situations where national interests overlapped with the common EU foreign policy, the former was preferred. However, the European Political Cooperation has achieved progress on substantive issues such as the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict and concerns on the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

The EPC was also very instrumental in condemning the racial Apartheid regime in South Africa. The EPC has therefore achieved a treaty status which has enabled it to foresee the implementation of human rights and liberal politics diplomatically in the world. The main tasks of the European Union include humanitarian assistance, crisis management, peacekeeping interventions and diplomatic resolution of conflicts.

Theorizing the EU as a global actor

The main achievements of the European Union are perceived to be restricted around the benefits of economic integration and trade. The other alliances and treaties that have been formed to address international politics and foreign affairs are limited to their temporary objectives (Smith 23). European integration and the Common Market are essential tools for globalization and international cooperation between participating countries.

Movement of people within a borderless Europe and its neighborhood is an important tool for economic and labor integration. Shared opportunities are developed through international interdependence and the expanded market through regional cooperation. The international cooperation between countries also presents challenges to international security as a result of terrorism-related crimes.

Separate member states within the European Union have therefore maintained that stringent matters that relate to life and death should remain in the domain of sovereign member governments. Security and sovereign issues are sticking issues which limit the prospects of transferring authority from national institutions to the European Union. The impact of the EU in the global arena is further determined by the contribution of its member states and the nature of its relationship with other countries. EU member states cooperate with its institutions depending on the benefits that could be obtained from the partnership (Stein& Marsh 19). Most of the states are constrained from surrendering their sovereignty to the EU due to issues related to security and defense.

Significant cooperation of the member states has been witnessed on economic integration and trade agreements. The complex networks that develop around the institutions of the European Union are therefore a product of the competing national interests which overlap with policies and systems of the European Union.

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Conclusion

The European Union has developed into an economic powerhouse in the world. Economic and monetary integration has facilitated the development of the single Euro currency which facilitates international trade between the European Union and the rest of the world. There is remarkable success in the development of a common foreign policy with emphasis on political and economic factors. Security and defense issues continue to define the extent to which the European Union is effective in the global arena (Vogler& Bretherton 22). Border security, visa facilitation and labor movements are largely controlled by independent national policies.

The European Union is therefore effective in fostering trade and diplomatic agenda internationally while matters related to security, defense and sovereignty remain within the jurisdiction of member states. This problem is occasioned by the inexistence of a unique EU government which can implement its policies and structures across participating countries. The relationship of the European with other international bodies such as the World Trade Organization, the United Nations and the United States also explains the degree to which it becomes effective on its policies (Rhodes 13). The greatest impediment to an effective foreign and security policy is occasioned by the absence of a military policy within the European Union. Essentially, diplomatic interventions on peace and conflict resolution matters are limited.

Works Cited

Leech, John. Whole and free: NATO, EU enlargement and transatlantic relations. Prague: The Federal Trust for Education & Research, 2002.

Rhodes, Carolyn. The European Union in the world community. London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1998.

Scartezzini, Riccardo& Foradori, Paolo. Managing a multilevel foreign policy: the EU in international affairs. New York: Lexington Books, 2007.

Sjursen, Helene& Peterson, John. A common foreign policy for Europe?: competing visions of the CFSP. London: Rout ledge, 1998.

Smith, Elizabeth K. European Union foreign policy in a changing world. Cambridge: Polity, 2003.

Stein, Macke H. & Marsh, Steve. The international relations of the European Union. Michigan: Pearson/Longman, 2008.

Vogler, John& Bretherton, Charlotte. The European Union as a global actor. London: Rout ledge, 2006.

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