The European Union

All states feel the same pressures felt by other states, therefore, alliances are made in order to become stronger as a unit and to confront a common problem or a superior power. The European Union is the best example of multilateral state cooperation. The post Second World War period and post cold war period saw a dramatic rise in the number of states being created. When the Soviet block collapsed, many suppressed states re-emerged on the international scene and proclaimed statehood.

Becoming a state is clearly important for nations; it shows certain strengths within a country and projects the right image on the global political scene. Being a member of an IGO like the EU ascertains that a state has met the minimum social, political and economical requirements. Multilateral cooperation is the way forward and European states realise this as they tackle global issues together. EU states have agreed to give up power to external authorities in return for a stable controlled political, economical, social environment. The essay will deal with how the EU has developed due to global developments like 9/11 and how the role of IGO’s (intergovernmental organizations) and NGO’s (nongovernmental organizations) have influenced the role of the states in Europe.

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The increase in the number of IGOs and NGOs has been staggering over the past century. The numbers have risen dramatically from 37 IGO’s and 176 NGO’s in 1909, to 154 IGO’s and 1,255 NGO’s in 1960; currently at the start of 2003 there were 243 IGO’s and 28,775 NGO’s1. The increase shows that multilateral cooperation is rapidly increasing.

The most well known IGO is the UN (United Nations) currently headed by Kofi Annan. Created in 1945 the UN then had 51 member states and was initially given basic capabilities for monitoring peace keeping operations and installing collective security. ie: monitoring cease-fires or truce agreements. In the post cold war period the UN took a much more important role in its peace keeping mission. With the dismantling of the Soviet Block in 1989 new opportunities for the UN to step up its tasks as world peace keeper arose. Secretary General of the United Nations at the time, General Boutros-Ghali saw the potential and his famous report released in April 1992, “An Agenda for Peace”, demanded states cooperation to provide support for a range of enhanced UN capabilities:

1. To seek to identify at the earliest possible stage situations that could produce conflict, and to try through diplomacy to remove the sources of danger before violence results;

2. Where conflict erupts, to engage in peacemaking aimed at resolving the issues that have led to conflict;

3. Through peace-keeping, to work to preserve peace, however fragile, where fighting has been halted and to assist in implementing agreements achieved by the peacemakers;

4. To stand ready to assist in peace-building in its differing contexts: rebuilding the institutions and infrastructures of nations torn by civil war and strife; and building bonds of peaceful mutual benefit among nations formerly at war;

5. And in the largest sense, to address the deepest causes of conflict: economic despair, social injustice and political oppression. It is possible to discern an increasingly common moral perception that spans the world’s nations and peoples, and which is finding expression in international laws, many owing their genesis to the work of this Organization.2

The UN had been crippled during the cold war what with the Eastern and Western blocks in conflict. Both the US and Russia are part of the five powerful permanent members, which means they also hold a right to veto in the UN Security Council. Accordingly Russia would veto any new membership of a country allied with the west and the US would do the same to allies of the eastern block. Therefore, when Boutros-Ghali saw the opportunity to enhance the UN’s position after the events in 1989, he urged member states to give the UN more capabilities.

Currently, the new framework for action devised by the EU after Kofi Annan’s visit to Brussels in May 2001 has enhanced relations between the EU and the UN. European states now have objectives similar to that of the UN in times of conflict:

1. Make more systematic and co-ordinated use of EU instruments to get at the root causes of conflict.

2. Improve the efficiency of actions targeting specific causes of conflict (the so-called “cross-cutting issues” such as trafficking in drugs or human beings, illicit trade of diamonds and small arms, competition over scarce water resources etc).

3. Improve EU capacity to react quickly to nascent conflicts.

4. Promote international co-operation with all EU’s partners (partner countries, NGOs, international organisations such as UN, G8, OSCE, ICRC as well as other regional organisations). 3

The role of European states in times of conflict has been drastically enhanced as can be seen in the EU’s “New definition of a framework for action”. Due to the presence of a new major NGO, al-Quaeda, and their acts of terrorism, European states are now even more involved with global cooperation in times of conflict. However, the attacks of 9/11 also brought forth European political disarray as states disagreed on the course of action to take against terrorism. What Britain and the US perceive as “rogue states”, is not in line with French and German views. Consequently, the EU was made to look divided and reminiscence of the days when France and Britain were “great powers” was present.

British collaboration with the US inflamed several European states like France and Germany but also triggered a massive response from EU citizens. The French and Germans want Europe to be seen as a unit on the world arena, and to a large extent it is. Therefore, when Britain constantly sides with the US despite other European states and UN opposition it creates tension. This scenario showed EU member states that there is still a long way to go before Europe can harmonise military and political global issues. Britain sees itself personally allied to the US, france, germany don’t and can’t disregard US demands however, they would like Europe to be allies to the US and not individual states.

Economically, Europe has also changed in the recent years due to the affects of globalisation. There has been a drastic trend in European and world economic affairs. Markets are becoming more international, the flow of goods, capital, services and labour between countries is growing incessantly. Globalisation’s first step was when the Bretton woods system of stable exchange rates was abandoned in 1971/72. In turn the abandonment of exchange controls led to free movement of funds between strong economic nations. More recent developments like the Eurozone have also facilitated exchanges between multinational companies. This shifted the power between private companies and states.

State duties were reduced and utility markets like water, power, and telecoms all became open to various private competitors. Large regional companies like Daimler-Chrysler went from being a big national company to dominating global markets. Globalisation has enabled multinational companies to benefit from individual advantages various states can provide them with. Resources like: low wages, availability of resources, closeness to markets, quality of research, and quality of skilled labour all help multinationals to reduce costs and increase profits. The effect of globalisation on states has also been significant. Companies now pressure states into giving them concessions like:

1. tax exemptions

2. establishment costs

3. Land to build on

4. development grants

5. social and environmental costs

However, there are numerous drawbacks to globalisation and disparities of income worldwide and nation wide are worryingly high. Trade tends to be limited to a triad of strong economical regions: North America, East Asia and Europe. Figures show that 76% of investment goes to developed countries while only 24% goes to into developing countries. These figures prove the growing disparity in income. Some argue that globalisation raises standards of living by creating jobs in developing countries. The real fact is that multinational companies exploit poorer countries.

Globalisation doesn’t just affect countries on an economic level; it also affects individual cultures in what is seen as “westernisation”. McDonalds can now be found in over 119 countries around the world. Traditional landscapes and cuisines are being spoilt by the presence of such establishments. Another drawback is that multinationals are more than ever profit orientated. When companies remained national they had to concentrate on giving back to the community. As was recently seen with the Dyson example it is easy for multinationals to move location in order to maximise profits. However, globalisation is not all negative as it has created larger markets for multinational companies to compete in. As a result consumers benefit from lower prices, increase in choice of products and cheaper goods.

Like many trends, globalisation has many advantages and drawbacks. It has dramatically changed the corporations behave, invest and save. There has been a dramatic rise in cross-border mergers but also in hostile takeovers. Employment is becoming more unstable as MNCs change location as soon as the political, social or economical environment impedes profits. The competition aspect has to be seen positively, wider range of choice in consumer goods and cheaper products can only benefit consumers. From a western point of view globalisation is the way forward and foreign investments benefit all western states as a whole. For developing countries, globalisation is increasing the divide on all levels between them and developed countries, making it constantly harder to compete and trade. The increase in employment is a plus side but it doesn’t counteract the negatives and until they do the future for developing countries looks worryingly precarious.

European states are changing and adapting to global issues everyday. The European Union is gaining global respect and is finally considered as possible challenger for global dominance with the US. European states are projecting on the global front that cooperation and integration on a large scale is possible. Despite the occasional global embarrassment due to conflicting opinions (Iraq) a solution is always negotiated and Europe is progressing as a whole. The fact that 10 countries are set to join the EU in may 2004, shows the potential and strength the EU has. Current European states are at the forefront of global developments and are seen to be able to deal in a competent modern manner with global developments. Member states have put faith in external powers and have tried to resolve global issues through IGOs, they posses a post-modern attitude to dealing problems.