With the need to have better economic, social, and political advancement, a number of European countries came together to form an organization called the European Union (EU). The EU was tasked with various responsibilities on behalf of its members. It aimed at integrating the region by fostering military security and promoting economic growth. The leaders of different nations signed various treaties to ensure the EU achieved its objectives. Through the EU, the participants were to revise their domestic laws to enhance the possibility of conducting trading activities across the borders. Furthermore, in order to develop effective management of the region, the EU established seven institutions to perform different roles in managing the region. The EU and its institutions promoted the integration of both the Eastern and Western countries by creating a single currency named the euro.
Origin of the European Union
After World War II, most western and eastern European countries opted to bring together the region in terms of economic, social, and political. The aim was to better the military security and economic growth and to facilitate a peaceful compromise between Germany and France. Initially, the EU was confined to the Western Europe nations before expanding to both central and eastern regions. In 1951, six leaders from France, Netherlands, West Germany, Belgium, Italy, and Luxembourg agreed and signed the Treaty of Paris that led to the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). The creation of ECSC promoted the aspect of free trade for some of the sensitive resources such as the military items.
Formation of EU
In order to form an organization, nations’ leaders have to meet and agree on terms and conditions. In 1993, the Maastricht Treaty was signed, which led to the creation of the EU. The accord was focused on facilitating the integration of the European political system and the economy through the creation of a common currency in the region called the euro. Furthermore, the organization aimed to establish a fused security policy, foreign guidelines, and common residency rights. To ensure it achieves the named responsibilities, the EU promoted the level of cooperation in key areas such as asylum, immigration, and judicial matters. The EU members comprise 27 countries; Belgium, Croatia, and Denmark. Other nations are Bulgaria, Austria, Cyprus, Greece, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Malta, Italy, Estonia, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Netherlands, Portugal, Luxembourg, Romania, Spain, Slovakia, Sweden, and Slovenia. The countries have agreed to abide by the laws of various treaties guiding the organization.
The main pillars of the Maastricht Treaty consisted of cooperation in domestic affairs and justice, European communities, and collective foreign and security policy. The agreement enables the EU to have powers to oversee and manage most essential operations in the region. The EU created a number of institutions to promote the effectiveness of governing the member states. Each of the bodies was assigned different responsibilities based on the main areas of concern in Europe.
The EU Institutions and their Roles in Promoting Integration
The EU developed an institutional framework to assist in defending and promoting the main objectives, values, and interests. They ensure the policies are coherent and effective to enhance the continuity of the organization. Furthermore, the bodies were to protect and present the welfare of the member states and those of the respective citizens. They were formulated according to Article 13 of the EU treaty. The institutions include the European Parliament, European Commission, European Council, Court of Auditors, European Central Bank, Court of Justice of the European Union, and Council of the European Union.
The European Parliament (EP)
The EP is part of the law-making body of the EU. The institution engages in approving the proposed regulations in the organization. The EP is made of 705 seats that are elected from all the member states. It is the only component of the EU that involves a direct election process. It is located in the following three cities; Strasbourg in France, Brussels, Belgium, and Luxemburg. The EP elects the president and vice-presidents that rules for duration of two and a half years.
In order to promote the integration amongst the member states, the EP performs the following functions. First is the debate about the legislation whereby the body can either pass, reject or amend laws. This aspect enables it to enact effective regulations and eliminate oppressive measures that might affect the well-being of the people. Second, it conducts supervision of other EU bodies to ensure they operate within limits provided by the treaties. Lastly, the parliament is responsible for making the EU budget that allows the organization to undertake its duties to meet the objectives. However, the body lacks the power of initiative hence it shares its roles with the European Commission.
The European Commission
The European Commission (EC) is the executive institution of the EU organization. Its roles are managing laws, enforcing, and initiating new policies of the EU. The body consists of 27 commissioners whereby each is representing the member country. The institution is based in Belgium Brussels where it conducts key operations. After the nomination of the commissioners by the member states, the EP approves them before commencing their duties in the organization. The nominated commissioners have an array of responsibilities.
Some of the EC’s responsibilities include initiating legislation by making proposals for policies and laws, which are then forwarded to the EP for approval. Through the process, the body ensures that the proposed guidelines are in line with the objective of the EU to promote the agenda. Furthermore, it is the role of the EC to ensure the EU nations comply with the laws whereby the EC has the mandate to take action against any member that violates the policies. Unlike the EP, the EC is the only EU body with power to propose news laws to guide the organization.
The European Council
The European Council is composed of the various heads of states that are members of the EU. This body is responsible for setting the political direction that governs the EU organization. Furthermore, the institution has the ability to formulate foreign and security policies for the EU. These roles enable the body to prioritize issues that affect or hinder the progress of the EU in their respective countries. Therefore, it plays a critical part in ensuring the set policies do not infringe on the citizens but favor them both politically, economically, and socially.
Most of the decision taken by the institutions goes unopposed unless in cases provided by the EU treaties, which call for the vote. The aspects make the body effective in promoting essential roles such as assessing the economic growth and the progress towards the set target. Moreover, it provides structural and fiscal reforms that are necessary for attaining the aims of the EU. During the scheduled meetings, the European Council outlines key priorities of each nation in the organization hence making the countries focused on their goals. In case a new regulation is required, the institution has the ability to request the EC to propose the law.
The Court of Auditors
The Court of Auditors body is responsible for auditing the EU organization and implementing the budgets forwarded by the EU institutions. It provides relevant reports to the member states bout the financial management of the EU to its member states and its citizens. The institution ensures that all the funds are used according to the respective bodies within the EU. Furthermore, the auditors oversee the participants and other countries that receive support from the organization.
Through effective auditing, the EU is able to identify and explain vividly areas in which its resources are used. Therefore, the EU remains transparent and accountable for possible challenges that might arise from financial management. Moreover, the body ensures that the available funds are used in a legal way that benefits the member states. Its activities allow the organization to improve on areas that have received less attention in terms of funding; hence EU can facilitate an additional program to meet the requirements. Through the implementation of the budget, the institution enables nations to obtain the gains from the organization to achieve their respective economic goals.
The European Central Bank (ECB)
The Euro Central Bank (ECB) institution plays a significant role in promoting the aspect of economic integration among the EU member nations. The body is the central bank of the EU region. It deals majorly with the core system of the EU, which entails the monetary policies in the area. The institution works closely with the national central banks (NCBs) of the nations within the EU. The key objective of the ECB is to maintain and check the price stability across the European countries. It imposes guidelines that help in safeguarding the value of the euro.
Moreover, the ECB provides support to the overall economic policies, which is essential in promoting the growth and development in the euro area. By defining the monetary policies and implanting them, the institutions facilitate practical trading activities which enable the member states to benefit from such measures. Furthermore, conducting foreign exchange operations on behalf of the EU nations enhances the ability and purchasing power of the euro compared to other currencies. The activities of ECB and NCBs make it possible for the region to experience proper trade involvement that favors the citizens of member states.
The Court of Justice of the European Union
The European Court of Court Justice (ECJ) is the judicial body of the EU. In other words, it helps in handling disputes and conflicts of interest that might occur within the organization. In order to promote successful integration, the ECJ institution provides clear interpretation and application of the EU laws in all the nations. The body is located in Luxemburg and consists of 28 judges and eight Advocates. The General Advocates assist in synthesizing cases to enable judges to deliver effective decisions. The ECJ engages the national courts of member states to minimize the aspect of misinterpretation of the laws.
Furthermore, the body is responsible for hearing cases dealing with member state issues. The ECJ has the mandate to command EU nations to comply with the stated laws. Similarly, in case of conflict between the regulations and the treaties agreement, the institution has the ability to render the proposed law null and void. Therefore, the ECJ ensures that all the policies and guidelines provided by the various treaties are adhered to enable the EU to meet its core objectives.
The Council of the European Union
The Council of the European Union (CEU) is a sensitive EU institution that involves budget approval and the aspects of decision-making. The body tends to share responsibilities with the EP in some specific areas of concern. The CEU is composed of government elected ministers from the EU nations. The council is flexible, and in most cases, when the issue being discussed is on economic background, then the ministers that have knowledge in the sector are involved. This approach makes it possible to accommodate and address different challenges affecting the member states with the proper insight. Some of the roles include legislative, economic, developing foreign policies, and budget. Performing the duties effective allows the organization to work towards its set objective of promoting the social, political, and economic growth in the euro region.
In summary, the effects of World War II contributed massively to the formation of the EU organization. The desire to have an effective economy, strong political background, and social development prompted the Western European nations to create the EU. The EU and its various institutions have played significant roles, such as formulation and implementation of monetary policies, which are essential in facilitating trading activities across the EU nations. Furthermore, the bodies have created laws that ensure member states comply with the treaties agreed to enhance the integration of the region.
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