Political Science Future Roles of the European Term Paper

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Political Science

Future Roles of the European Union on the Global Stage

The European Union is one of the most dominant actors on the contemporary global stage, and its role is only expected to grow.

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Yet, the European Union is often seen in terms different from that of the traditional superpower. Few foresee the emergence of the European Union as a military rival to the United States, Russia, China, or other powers. Instead, its increasing power is seen to be economic, cultural, and diplomatic. A united Europe will see its economic cloud spread across the planet. Its values will shape human and civil rights in both the developing and the developed worlds. Europe will be a leader in the "greening" of the world economy, a primary exponent of policy calculated to combat global warming and other pressing environmental issues. The European Union is unique in other ways, as well. It is not a single, closely-united superstate, but rather a federation of nations with long and proud independent traditions. One of the challenges of the new Europe is the merging of myriad separate systems of jurisprudence, finance, and government into a workable federated system. This group of states acting in concert must stand on its own against the actions of other major powers and must make carefully considered decisions on its and its member states', roles in other international bodies like NATO and the United Nations. The role of the European Union will be proactive and formative. It will use its considerable influence and power to shape international discourse, and to change the courses of action of rival sources of power. It will affect virtual every aspect of Twenty-First Century life.

Term Paper on Political Science Future Roles of the European Assignment

The European Union is, first and foremost, an economic creation. Most of its mountains of founding regulations and strictures relate directly to the economic interactions of its member states. Prospective members must submit to these directives or face rejection of their applications. National sovereignty is governed by the demands of the marketplace. Among the most salient features of the system is its emphasis on the rights of multinational corporations to do business as they please without regard to pre-existing frontiers. "The truth is that the European Union has enlarged, remodelled and opened up. It is not and is not going to become a superstate. But neither is it going to become a superpower" (Guardian, Patrick Wintour, political editor Thursday November 15, 2007). The European Union does not exist as a single, unified state. The governmental structures that have been created are intended primarily to mediate between the different sources of power with the federation. The member states send representatives to a European Parliament, and there are various judicial and regulatory bodies that exercise supervisory roles within the system. The presidency of the Union rotates among its members helping to guarantee than no one member nation becomes preeminent. Even the language of politics is conducted in a host of different tongues - the national and recognized languages of the Union's component states. Business; however, does extend across national lines. In a globalizing word in which economic power increasingly determines political power and influence, the European Union seeks to maximize its economic influence by permitting corporations to become as powerful as they can within the boundaries of the Union itself. The development is a recognition of the increasing and pervasive reach of corporations in a globalizing world. Seeking to create a system that is stronger than already existing multi-state organizations, such as the United Nations, the European Union's approach to corporate internationalism builds on these developments:

Virtually the entire globe is now within reach of the corporations. Coca-Cola, for example, is now sold in more countries than there are UN member-nations. Another development is that the corporations are staffed by a form of global 'civil service', rather than 'national' personnel. Corporations have been far more successful than the UN in encouraging their staff to see themselves as global workers rather than ones with national loyalties. The 50 biggest corporations are economically bigger than two-thirds of the UN's 192 member-states. (Suter, 2006)

On a socio-political level; therefore, corporations and their personal can achieve a level of integration that is, as yet, impossible among the actual political organs and culturally and linguistically diverse populations of the federation. Still, these differences present real and substantial challenges for the economic as well as the political model of integration.

Unlike most modern political entities, products of the nationalist movements of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, the European Union, federation though it is, represents an attempt to join together states with diverse histories, customs, and legal traditions. On the level of language alone, the European Union faces a great challenge. Language is one of the fundamentals of the human experience, and the European continent is home to a considerable array of distinct languages and dialects. Each one encapsulates a body of tradition, of views, of culture as expressed in a literary and artistic tradition. The distinctiveness of Europe's national and ethnic cultures has long been viewed as a source of strength:

But even those who accepted the overall framework of democracy and capitalism often defended Europe's rich and varied mosaic of the regional cultures as a resource to be protected against the leveling influences of globalization. Indeed, one if the most frequent criticisms of the EU itself was that its rules were too restrictive, tending toward a bland uniformity at odds with Europe's past.

James Wilkinson & H. Stuart Hughes)

The mass of regulations that minutely governs almost every aspect of interaction between states, and that extends into the homes of every family and individual through the influence of multinational business, threatens to suffocate much that is different, even unique, about Europe's peoples. Alexis de Tocqueville noted, in the 1830s, factors of modern democracies and democratic attempts at integration and control that apply well to the policies of the European Union. Rather than encourage the development of individuals and preserve unique distinctions, talents, views, and traditions, these restrictions rob human beings of free choice and create an insipid amalgam that is merely "good for business," this "democratic despotism":

Would] be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood.... [I]t every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself.... [T]he supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided.... Such a power does not destroy.... But it enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd. (Kimball, 2003)

Europe's stated goal is the propagation and advancement of democracy, which democracy entails adherence to a doctrine of personal liberty. Too much regulation tends inevitably to crush the very freedom it purports to defend. More and more, the liberty and individuality of Europe and its peoples are being circumscribed by overly-detailed regulations that make real choice and difference nearly impossible.

Another level, on which the European is leading the charge to change the world and implement policies that are perceived to benefit humanity as a whole, is in the sphere of environmental policy and law. In particular, global warming is a European cause celebre. Attempts to regulate carbon emissions take center stage in much of the debate over how best to control or forestall the effects of too much too pollution on the global environment. David Miliband, currently the United Kingdom's Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, put forward a carbon credit trading scheme that would, if successful, not only help to alleviate the emissions problem, but also be directly linked to the further expansion of European Union economic and political power and influence. In fact, it would lead eventually to the Union's physical expansion into territories not now normally considered to be a part of "Europe.":

On environmental issues, Miliband will also propose an extension of the fledgling EU emissions trading scheme with the creation of an EU carbon bank to regulate the amount of carbon used. He will suggest that by 2030 all cars purchased in the EU should have zero carbon emissions. In another bold move, he will suggest that by 2030 "we should consider extending the single market beyond our immediate neighbours, and to the Middle East and North Africa." This extended free trade area would not be an alternative to EU membership, but complementary. (Patrick Wintour, 15 November 2007)

The European Union itself has been urged by researchers at… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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