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Is the European Union an Exclusionist Grouping? Abstract Since the conclusion of World War II, the economic community of Europe has sought to regroup and move forward. With this in mind, the European Union took its first infant steps in the early 1950’s in an effort to unify the splintered nations of Europe into a strong economic collective superpower which would allow it to effectively conduct business and trade with the huge nations of the world such as the United States.
Since the EU’s inception, however, the claim has been made as to whether the EU is an exclusionist organization which admits some nations and bars others from enjoying the same membership and benefits. In this paper, the question of whether or not the EU is exclusionist will be answered through the use of comprehensive research and logical conclusion. The Origins of the European Union Despite the popular misconception that the European Union was established as a weapon against Communism, the reality is quite different.
While the pursuit of a unified and free Europe was certainly an issue as the 20th century dawned, the reality is that the concept of the EU first came about as a remedy against the worldwide economic depression that came as the spoils of World War I . The concept that ultimately formed the Union faded in and out of the consciousness of the European community until the shock of World War II, which once again brought to the forefront a better appreciation of the value of economic power and freedom.
This power and freedom, it seems, would only be possible with the strength of numbers, necessitating members for this new coalition. Gaining Membership in the EU Since the EU was truly born out of the rubble of World War II to provide a brighter future for Europe, it would be tempting to say that the Union was exclusionary much like a club that only wants the most desirable members, but research indicates the opposite from the beginning of the formalized Union. The foundation of the EU, by its very nature, gives little indication of having been designed to be exclusionary, evidenced by this passage from the EU Constitution:
“Any European State may apply to become a member of the Union. It shall address its application to the Council, which shall act unanimously after consulting the Commission and after receiving the assent of the European Parliament, which shall act by an absolute majority of its component members. The conditions of admission and the adjustments to the Treaties on which the Union is founded which such admission entails shall be the subject of an agreement between the Member States and the applicant State.
This agreement shall be submitted for ratification by all the contracting States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements. ” As plainly worded as the above Constitutional passage is, it also has some ambiguity and latitude to it which bears consideration. First is the term European State within the passage; while it would seem fairly obvious that this is meant to be interpreted as any nation on the continent of Europe, there are areas of debate on this point.
Because there is no qualification of what this term means within the text of the EU Constitution, nations such as Great Britain were able to gain membership into the EU based on that nation’s acceptance by the other EU member nations. This acceptance seems to be largely based on the fact that Britain had the economic clout, standard of living, and palatable governmental system that made it worthy to belong to the EU and make meaningful contributions to the Union overall.
Conversely, in the early 1950s, nations such as Turkey, Malta and Cypress were originally denied for membership in the EU not because of their geographic locations but because of their philosophical, economic, political and moral locations on the scale of popular opinion; in other words, these nations were declined the privilege of EU membership for reasons varying from their poor economic conditions, undesirable political systems, lack of human rights protections for their citizens, and the like.
However, in an act of extending some sort of inclusion to these nations, throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s, each nation was offered, and ultimately accepted, an invitation to sign Union Association Agreements, which afforded the nations some of the benefits of belonging to the EU but not the power of ruling on Union policy or membership. Is the EU Exclusionary Based on Gender Issues?
The role of women in the global economy, specifically in the areas of their ability or inability to join the workforce and enjoy the same employment opportunity as their male counterparts, has emerged not only in Europe, but also worldwide since the days of World War II, when women stepped out of their traditional roles as homemakers and stay home parents to replace the earning power that was lost when their husbands left jobs to serve in military duty. Female activism has advanced the cause of women in world affairs ever since.
This being understood, an essential question is whether or not the EU uses its power to specifically exclude women from economic affairs within its member nations, or more importantly, excludes nations from Union membership if the nations offer equal rights to women as they do to men. From this viewpoint, the evidence suggests that no organized exclusionary effort exists within the EU; to the contrary, the EU has worked to promote equal pay and professional opportunity for women both within the Union and beyond.
In light of evidence that suggests that the EU does not operate in an exclusionary manner from the viewpoint of the female gender, but rather promotes the cause of women as part of a vibrant European economy, the question remains of whether this desire to support women’s causes has motivated the EU to resist membership requests by nations which traditionally hold women as inferior to men and suppress their ability to earn equal wages and seek equal opportunities to their husbands, brothers and fathers.
There is indication that the EU is exclusionary in these cases, for better or for worse. A classic example of this is the decades long campaign by Turkey to join the EU. In addition to civil rights and economic shortcomings, Turkey was originally frowned upon by the EU because of the Turkish tradition of subordinating women . In response to these types of charges being leveled at Turkey, the nation has made some efforts to address the concerns that have been expressed by the EU.
Exclusionary Expansion of the EU Over the decades, the EU by example and specific mandate, has expanded from a territory that exclusively encompassed the geographic boundaries of central Europe to include outlying areas such as Great Britain as well as eastern Europe and beyond. Despite this branching out and increasing physical territory, the claim remains that even in these new areas of expansion, the EU exercises exclusion . This accusation warrants closer evaluation of the issue at hand.
While it appears that exclusion is not evident in the expansion of the EU, other than the selective nature of a nation’s acceptance as a member or lack thereof, there is an indication that isolation has resulted because of EU expansion. Specifically, in the case of Russia, isolation seems to be an inevitable occurrence. When the U. S. S. R dissolved because of the collapse of Communism, Russia emerged from the chaos and found itself with a paralyzed economy and little prospects for growth within its borders, making trade with other nations virtually a necessity if the newly formed Russia were to survive or grow to any extent.
Because the EU had expanded into eastern Europe and viewed Russia in a less than favorable light, the possible trading partners for Russia were reduced to a great degree, as many nations were taken into the fold of the EU and therefore followed the EU party line on trading partners . Admittedly, this isolation does tend to look like exclusion, but the exclusion is not the result of any organized effort on the part of the EU to outright exclude, but rather is the side effect of the EU’s overall goals and objectives. These goals and objectives do need to be understood, however, in order to fully comprehend the mindset and ambitions of the EU.
Underlying Agendas of the EU If the EU does not seem to have an explicit exclusionary mission, what in fact is the Union’s agenda? This question has theories attached to it that cover a wide range of possibilities, many of which are too outlandish to be given serious consideration in a valid work of research. However, one theory which merits consideration is the belief that the EU seeks to blend its member nations into a homogeneous European superstate without the borders, culture and diversity that makes Europe the rich tapestry of humanity that it is after thousands of years of human endeavor.
The EU blending smacks of Socialism in many cases; documentation exists to allege that the EU has made attempts to ban the display of member nation’s individual flags at EU events or on EU property, the EU has sought to impose laws and regulations upon member nations that override those nation’s own legislation, and of course, the creation of the Euro, which is the EU’s own form of currency which seeks to devalue individual currencies such as the British Pound and German Mark.
Political power also lies at the heart of the all-inclusive nature of the EU; in some cases, the EU Constitution clashes with those of member nations, and the question arises as to which set of constitutional guidelines take precedent . It is feasible to expect that in future years, the EU could adopt a system of representation whereby the power and influence of the EU could be used in issues which directly effect the EU, while member nations would be able to function individually in issues which are strictly domestic in nature.
By doing this, the EU could preserve a level of power and influence, and member nations would still maintain a sense of identity and autonomy while preserving the culture and rights of the citizens that reside in a given nation . This would also address the concerns of those who have serious reservations about the homogenization of Europe and beyond that the EU seems to be making happen whether by design or specific intent. While courts of law may be the only effective way of answering such complex legal questions, the debate is sure to continue to emerge as the EU grows in scope and influence.
It should be noted, however, that problems such as these, for better or for worse, are indicative of an inclusion of more members, rather than exclusion as has been alleged. Conclusion As this paper began, the question was posed as to whether or not the European Union is an exclusionist grouping? While the research and evidence indicates that the EU is not an explicitly exclusionist grouping by edict, design or practice, it is a selective one.
Admittedly, some nations are denied membership into the EU, but in those cases, the circumstances clearly show that the denial is based on solid reasoning, more times than not, the simple fact that for whatever reason, the nation seeking admittance would not add to the strength of the Union and may in fact cause harm to the Union itself. Ultimately, the EU must look out for not only the interest of the Union overall, but also the interests and advancement of the individual member nations.
An all-inclusive membership policy would water down the potency of the EU and defeat its ultimate aims of strengthening the European economy and promote security and prosperity. No one should mistakenly assume that if the EU denies membership to an inappropriate potential member that the Union is being outright exclusionary. Rather, the greater good is being protected and the leaders of the EU should be commended for not acquiescing to the whims of rogue nations who would strong arm their way into the distinguished ranks of the EU and poison it from the inside out.
In conclusion, if the EU continues to be selective, and not exclusionary, the future will be bright for the Union and its members. References Jasper, William F. 2002. European Superstate in the Making: Over the Course of Half a Century, the Architects of the European Union’s Various Incarnations Have Lied to Conceal Their True Goal of a Socialist Regional Superstate. The New American, May 6, 23+. Muftuler-Bac, Meltem. 2000. The Impact of the European Union on Turkish Politics. East European Quarterly 34, no. 2: 159.
Muller, Karis. 1999. Problems of European Union Citizenship Rights at the Periphery. The Australian Journal of Politics and History 45, no. 1: 35. Nash, Michael L. 1997. The European Union and Secession. Contemporary Review, May, 247+. Northcutt, Susan Stoudinger. 2005. Ellina, Chrystalla A. Promoting Women’s Rights: The Politics of Gender in the European Union. International Social Science Review 80, no. 3-4: 167+. Pinder, John. 2001. The European Union: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Schmitt, Hermann and Jacques Thomassen, eds. 1999. Political Representation and Legitimacy in the European Union. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Springer, Beverly. 1994. The European Union and Its Citizens: The Social Agenda. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Wallace, William V. 2002. “Enlarging the European Union -An Overview”. In Perspectives on the Enlargement of the European Union, ed. Ross, Cameron:1-18. Boston: Brill. Warleigh, Alex, ed. 2002. Understanding European Union Institutions. London: Routledge.
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