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Critical Analysis of the Development of the European Union in the Context of Crises

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This assignment was prepared with the intent to critically analyze the European development through crises that drive integration and collaboration, strongly focusing on the impacts of the Euro crisis and elements of the recent Brexit event. A further strategic examination was carried out to address regional integration theories in the context of the EU’s development as well as confidently evaluate the political, social, and economic diversity of its member states. Qualitative data was gathered from various sources to express views and arguments prior to the essay question with elements of its history to provide a comprehensible overview.

Analysis of European Integration

The European integration can be defined as the cooperation and mutual dependence between member states to deepen economic, social and political interconnectedness (Johnson and Turner, 2016). The EU’s liberal democratic institutions hold regular elections with competing political parties where shared decision making of legal and political systems greatly rely on consensus between the countries where a high level of trust is essential (Schimmelfennig, 2014). Both positive and negative aspects emerge from such a process as the challenges to find a common response and long-lasting solutions are ongoing due to the EU’s complex structure and colossal diversity gap between nations (Suder and Lindeque, 2018). Although European integration is beneficial in terms of enhanced globalization, higher economic and social output, it has aggravated inequality through member states’ heterogeneity and questionable leadership (Rose and Borz, 2015). Furthermore, the Single Market Program was introduced to empower and protect the inhabitants of Europe. This crucial asset addresses features of trade liberalization by reducing overlaps, streamlining border controls, harmonizing government procedures, and fostering competitiveness (Suder and Lindeque, 2018).

It can be alleged that the European Union was a reaction to the disastrous events of World War II, which agrees with the statement of integration being forged from the crisis as countries that are integrated are less likely to fight conflicts and solve their problems in harmonious ways. This integration in economic terms has made it extremely costly to fight wars which is the most significant advantage of integration (Ardy and El-Agraa, 2011).

The introduction of the euro as the official currency was one of the most significant steps of unification in the past decade. Its goal was to establish more coordinated integration through simplified transactions and fewer conversions, thus being more attractive to foreign countries in terms of international trade. However, with this attempt to move away from currency heterogeneity, some member states became to doubt its sustainability and benefits due to the increased interest rates raised by Germany, which implies the nationalistic instincts through self- interest rather than the common growth. Moreover, countries which are part of the euro release their control over to monetary policy, thus giving the right to set interest and inflation rates (Johnson and Turner, 2016).

Diversity Challenges of Member States

Each EU regime is classified differently according to the key dimensions of the European Social Model of social protection, trade unions, political and economic decisions (Alesina, et al., 2010). Central to the argument of member diversity is the national tendencies towards irrationality and divergence being an ongoing barrier to efficient integration, as states share diverse outlooks and morals, thus creating challenges of socio-economic conflict and less advanced standards of living. Moreover, Hoffmann argued that diversity prevailed and set limitations to the spillover effect anticipated by neo-functionalism (Hoffmann 2009).

Nonetheless, it can be argued that such heterogeneous models can coincide to form a diversified response and solve integration challenges in a flexible manner, which is seen with the way such challenges have fostered in the proliferation of the European strategies, reflected in the succession of the European Constitutions Treaty (Cini and Borragan, 2016).

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Impacts of Crises

The contemporary events of the 21st century, namely the Euro crisis and the most recent Brexit affair, have contributed to a rise of Euroscepticism as to how the EU integration system may be affected. However, it can be argued that these crises are simply obstacles of inevitable disagreement and uncertainty, which the EU would not only conquer but moreover grow stronger through them (Anderson et el., 2019).

The 2010 European Crisis has been largely challenging the integration process’s ability to meet its goals of convergence of the EU economies and strengthen homogeneous union among member states as reiterated in the Lisbon Treaty’s preamble (Alesina, et al., 2010). On the one hand, the Eurozone crisis enhanced integration as it fostered productivity in terms of better coordination mechanisms with institutions such as the European Stability Mechanism. It furthered the degree of interdependencies awareness which is shown through institutional innovation. Nevertheless, the Eurozone conflict had forged disintegrated tendencies with the decline of social cohesion and real economy and magnified polarization as it imposed an ever-larger gap in unemployment rates (Webber, 2019). As a result, there has been political threats, causing divisions between north and south cooperation, as well as increased inequality and poverty levels in connection to Marxism (Alesina, et al., 2010).

To conclude this debate, the Eurozone conflict had pushed the EU governance towards more effective community methods through fostering bargaining perspectives and elucidating responsibility and authority (The Economist, 2019). However, the confluence of economic divisions and social austerity have entrenched the economic gap, which largely restricted bargaining mechanisms, thus increasing Eurosceptic views of the countries of its involvement (Ardy and El-Agraa, 2011). A great level of disintegration can be seen with the Brexit event, where the legitimacy, values and strength of the European Union has been tarnished. It has affected sovereignty, security and stability of weaker nations, making them more vulnerable for outside force (Anderson et el., 2019).

Integration Theories

It is of extreme validity to examine integration theories as they aim to clarify the course and functionality of the European Union. To put this into perspective, the EU governance system is exceptionally complex and therefore implements elements of different theoretical approaches to explain its role in all of its dimensions.

To address this from a neo-functionalist perspective, this theory aims to integrate individual sectors to achieve spillover effects to expand the process of European unification. Elements of this theory shape the European integration process as it recognizes that socio-political cooperation is inevitable for an effective outcome. Subsequently, this constitutional framework highlights the benefits of a common currency and foreign security policy (Hoffman, 2009). However, this theory cannot provide semblance for the entire community no matter the supranational common interest of member states and their legislation, as diversity remains present. As a result, conflicts with nations’ individual self-interest and priorities emerge. Another pragmatic approach to EU integration is federalism as it introduces territory to its governance and demonstrates the role of the coexistent national authorities that share independent power. The event of Brexit strongly reflects upon perspectives on federalism through exhibiting independence and supremacy (Schimmelfennig, 2014).

Conclusion

To end, the creation of the European Union was largely in response to crises in an attempt to form harmony between nations. However, the magnitude of recent crises is intensified in terms of significant additional economic and social costs, thus weakening the European union and undermining integration (The Economist, 2019). Therefore, it is argued that the EU’s resilience in modern times may be unrelenting, and the implications of the contemporary crisis may exasperate political and economic disintegration. Moreover, it is insinuated that the Euro has caused significant harm for some member states, thus reducing support and trust in the government’s right-doing and effectiveness. Having said this, the consequences of the contradictive forces for political integration of the EU are yet to be unfolded, which is why my view at present remains uncertain.

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Critical Analysis of the Development of the European Union in the Context of Crises. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/critical-analysis-of-the-development-of-the-european-union-in-the-context-of-crises/
“Critical Analysis of the Development of the European Union in the Context of Crises.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/critical-analysis-of-the-development-of-the-european-union-in-the-context-of-crises/
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Critical Analysis of the Development of the European Union in the Context of Crises [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 01 [cited 2023 Jan 30]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/critical-analysis-of-the-development-of-the-european-union-in-the-context-of-crises/
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