European Union: Peril or Panacea?
The events that led to the European Union’s existence.
The European Union (EU) came into existence because of two world wars and the
Cold War and there were at least three other incidences as well. The other three incidences
were Auschwitz, Gulag, and the drop of the atomic bomb. The devastation of the world wars
brought about much distress due to the death tolls and the mass destruction. The world had
never seen the likes of such a war as WWII because it not only caused psychological issues,
but it also created a sense of fear. Thus the EU was formed. It was crucial to the survival of
Europe when the European Union was created because it gave the people a sense of security.
At the time the EU was distinguished it was a panacea; a remedy for all evils and
difficulties. However, many question the effect of the EU or if it is causing more harm than
good. In this paper you’ll learn about WWII and the devastation it caused, why the EU was
formed and the issues it solved, the advantages and disadvantages of the EU, and a prediction
of how some issues can be resolved.
World War II
When one thinks about WWII they usually think of Hitler first, as they should. He was
a man who was high on himself and wanted world domination. His greed for land was proven
by a speech he had written to his generals. In the speech he mentioned how many women and
children of Polish origin and language must be killed in order to gain the living space for
Germans (Perry, Berg, and Krukones, 2011). He had it set in his mind that once the Aryan
(the Aryan race, according to Hitler, was the perfect race of Germans or a child with two
German parents) race was established they would need the room to multiply. Once Poland’s
population had diminished he wanted the same for Russia and the entire Earth. Nothing was
going to stop this man from reaching his goal. He wanted it done quickly and without emotion.
Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg were the next to fall followed by France. There was no
stopping Hitler, so he thought, at this point.
Hitler’s gain of power over lands did not halt him from committing the most tragic of
events; the Holocaust. The Nazi’s murdered six million Jews, including on and a half million
children (Perry, Berg, and Krukones, 2011). In these concentration camps the Jews lived for
nothing except for death.
They knew they weren’t coming to the camps on vacation to get away. Instead, they were
forced out of their homes and away from their security. Once in the concentration camps they
were fed little, treated poorly, and many were lined up to go into the acid showers. Many other
prisoners were led to an area where they had to strip themselves of their clothing, stand in a line
against a pit of people already dead, and wait to be shot. It did not matter to Hitler that
innocent people were being murdered because he did not consider the Jewish people to be
innocent. He thought them to be parasites. In his mind, they stole German spouses, took jobs
away from the German people, and bought food that was meant for the Germans. He was
building his army of Nazi soldiers by putting his way of thinking into the schools to where Jewish
children couldn’t even go to school for fear of some sort of retaliation.
After Hitler’s Auschwitz (concentration camps), Gulag followed. The Soviet prison
camps were no better than the concentration camps. Hundreds upon thousands of prisons
were forced to strip naked and thrown in a cell that was sometimes no bigger than a closet.
They were crammed inside like sardines and fed only bread and a soup-like substance. There
were no sanitary provisions for the prisoners, they would get beat, and many were shot. By the
time the prison camp was closed down only a few prisoners were left because many were either
shot or died of malnutrition.
Another tragic event of WWII was that of the atomic bomb. America didn’t even want
to join WWII until that fateful day at Pearl Harbor. Japanese pilots and kamikazes pretty much
destroyed the Hawaiian base. President Truman was told about the atomic bombs and when
the Japanese did not surrender Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed. They were the first
atomic bombs ever to be set off and it frightened the Europeans and many other countries. It
urned the United States into a superpower.
The devastation of WWII was enormous. Allied troops destroyed what they thought to
be hostile areas. By the wars end in 1945, there were tens of millions of dead (Perry, Berg,
and Krukones, 2011). Germany was incapacitated and any other hostiles were silenced.
After WWII the Cold war between the United States and the U.S.S. R. came to being.
There was a thought that the Soviets would attempt to expand their territories, so the “Iron
Curtain” was placed. It became a fail safe in a way to make Western Europe feel better.
However, there was still the threat of totalitarian control.
The European Union
Soon to follow was the formation of NATO in 1949. NATO was the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization designed to guarantee peace and security throughout the land. Many
countries were sick of war and would do anything to stop the succession of another and that’s
why NATO was formed. In 1951 France, West Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium,
Luxembourg, and Italy formed the ECSC or the European Coal and Steel Community (Perry,
Berg, and Krukones, 2011). It was formed in order to secure economic cooperation. The
EEC or the European Economic Community followed soon after. The EEC created a positive
market of goods, services, people, and capital in which was available to all economic sectors
(Gerven, 2005). Eventually, the EU or the European Union came into existence after other
countries began to join the EC or the European Community.
Basically, the forces that compelled Europe’s integration were the horrors of Auschwitz
where the concentration camps were, the Gulag where the Soviet prison camps were, and the
atomic bomb (Pond, 2002). Not only that, but reconstruction had to begin somewhere and it was best suited
with the EU. The wars had caused so much chaos within the world the EU was a way out of abnormality and a
way in for normality.
Since the European Union came out from the rubble of the wars it’s hard to say if its
existence will continue. The EU is neither a union of sovereign states nor a federation,
confederation, or federal state (Benjamin, 2010). The states within the EU have to abide by
European laws and policies and everything is one entity. Yet there is a serious problem with
sovereignty and jurisdiction within the EU. The risk of the European Union’s authority is a giant
complex as well. For example, who would be willing to give up his national family, his language,
and the security of his country for one giant (Benjamin, 2010). There are also issues within the
EU that cause other distresses . One such issue is government policies created for the states,
but do not apply them to their own country. This makes the people want to reject the EU, but
most people would say that they love the EU.
A love/hate relationship is not a healthy one in any situation. The reason why the EU
was created in the first place was to give the countries within a sense of security and stability; a
place away from conflict and war. However, the EU has become a political mess where ideas
clash and policies are under speculation. The EU was a good idea when it first started, but now
it has gotten too large to account for its own people.
Positives of the European Union
Not everything about the European Union is negative. Committee members live normal
lives and not of higher standards, or standard’s in which they cannot sustain. Though, the
committee’s standard of public life is noticeably positive because of a code of conduct. The
code of conduct is determined by the behavior of the commissioners themselves, their behavior
as civil servants, and their standards of public life (Gervan, 2005). However, the EC states
that they can be completely independent in their duties, so the code of conduct has not happened. It’s like
they are a separate bureaucratic entity. Whichever way one looks at it, this could be good or bad.
When thinking of the people the European Union gave peace to its states in a post-cold
war arena. Nobody knew what the Soviets had planned. After all, they did set treat when
Hitler was still alive, but they did not know that he planned destroy the U.S.S.R. as well. The
EU was there to make sure war did not happen instead of worrying about who would win the
war once it started. The EU also created a unified currency that would eventually get its states
out of debt. At first, the currency did fall below standards. Now, however, European currency
exceeds the U.S. Dollar. The European Union created jobs for the unemployed and there was
many people unemployed. With the war’s destruction and the depression thousands of people
were in need of some sort of employment. The people no longer had to worry about resources
or food products because the EU states were unified. Basically, the EU gave the people an
identity of sorts; a sense of belonging.
Negatives of the European Union
Within the European Union there are cross-national differences that hold back the
countries or states. It seems as if the EU has neglected responsibility of nationality because of
the many issues behind it can cause. It’s difficult to get someone to stop a habit they have had
for years then it is for someone who just started. This brings the question: Is the European
Union getting too large to accommodate all of its people? The EU has gotten so large that there
is a clash of nationalities. The West, for example, has had liberated women for years, but the
Middle East has women that cannot even show their faces after they are married. Who is right
and who is wrong? The answer to that question is simple. No one is right and no one is wrong.
Since the West has thought themselves to be superior they believe everyone should be
free to choose, walk, talk, or play as they wish. However, freedom of choice is not given to
them because the West wants their choice to be there ideals of life. There are old age traditions that are
being compromised and the loss of nationality is still growing. Unfortunately, the West approaches things with
their science, their conception of state, their bureaucracy, and their nationalist ideologies (Perry, Berg, and
Krukones, 2011). That is the reason why culture and national identities are becoming lost. Social norms are
not necessarily social norms somewhere else (Duncan and Pfau-Effinger, 2000). There is not just one universal
way of living, so why does culture have to be destroyed. This is a major downfall of the European Union and it
needs to become an issue for the council and/or parliament because many people thrive on their nationality.
It’s the reason why they are who they are. Life should not be different just because somebody says it
The EU needs to stop neglecting society and focus on them. If they continue on the
same path there might not even be a European Union in the future. People do not jump off a
bridge just because their friend tells them to. Instead, they fight for their cause; for their life. It
is no different with culture or nationality.
Another issue within the European Union is foreign policy. They focus on outcomes
rather than process (Tonra and Christiansen, 2004). In order to understand foreign policy one
has to know the process of how it came to be in the first place. Instead, the EU is putting
process aside and ignoring it. Do not get me wrong because the European Union does
understand its global role when it comes to foreign policy. They just need to have a different
approach. It is time for them to completely understand the policies and procedures of the
European Union or else there will be a second reason for their downfall. The United States
would not have been able to run on its constitutional law if Congress did not follow the correct
procedures. Therefore, it should not be any different for the EU. The foreign policy should be
conducted by one single entity as well. Within the European Union each state has a say in
foreign relations. This may end up causing a conflict of interests. Even worse, if one state
wanted more goods they could choose it. That would deny a different state from getting all its goods. It is an
assembly line process that can be dangerous if not corrected.
Improving the European Union
The European Union needs to, first off, take care of its people because the nationality
issue is a predominant one. Many people are loosing interest with the EU because they’re
nationality is being compromised. The fact that countries who enter the EU need to become
democracies is not an issue compared to this one, and segregation is not a way of solving the
problem. There are already too many nationalities mixed together in order for that to happen.
Basically, the European Union needs to stop neglecting this issue and start focusing on the
people by educating classrooms and older adults on the different cultures. Students do learn
about different aspects of cultures, but they don’t really get down to the core of what it means to
be a part of that culture. It is the life-source of their existence. Their ancestors were part of
their way of life. The EU has to understand the implications of westernizing everyone is making
the people lose a part of themselves.
As for foreign policy everything has worked thus far, but the European Union is getting
bigger. Just because a certain country is in the EU doesn’t mean they should have a right to a
policy of their own. Honestly, they should study the structure of the United States Congress
because it seems that is what they tried to base the European Union off of; the Articles of
Confederation. With the Articles of Confederation each state had it’s own way of conducting
business. Once a month the Congress was supposed to meet and conduct business. At least
the EU did better than the first Congress of the United States because they meet every day.
Nevertheless, the United States had to change policies and procedures over time because of
how big the country was getting over time. That’s why the Constitution was written. It was
because the foreign policy was working against the colonies instead of for them. It is time that
the EU readjust their constitution in order to better equip themselves for the changing times.
World War II was a horrific time in the history of the world. Many ugly things
happened when it came to Hitler and his Third Reich. His methods of ruling Germany were
treacherous and the blood of millions of Jews stained his hands. The Soviets were not any
better with their prison camps, and United States cannot really say they were all that good either
because they were the first to use the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These episodes
were the reasoning behind the European Union’s birth, and even though there are discrepancy it
is fact that the EU helped a troubled nation. It brought the people together in a time of distress,
which was the reason why Europe thrives today.
Perry, M., Berg, M., & Krukones, J., 2011. Sources of European History Since
1900. Boston, MA. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Benjamin, D., Editor, 2010. Europe 2030. Washington, D.C. The Brookings
Gervan, W., 2005. The European Union, A Polity of States and People. Stanford,
CA. Stanford University Press.
Duncan, S., & Pfau-Effinger, Editors, 2000. Gender, Economy and Culture in the
European Union. New York, NY. Routledge.
Pond, E., 2002. The Rebirth of Europe, Second Edition. Washington, D.C. The
Tonra, B., & Christiansen, T., Editors, 2004. Rethinking European Union Foreign
Policy. Manchester, UK. Manchester University Press.