The European Union referat





The European Union

The European Union





History


The EU was founded in 1945, at the end of the “Second World War”. Europe was in ruins and had to be rebuilt. The new Europe was to be very different from the old one.


European empires were falling apart

The countries of Europe were no longer the world’s most important political power

The governments of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg moved towards a more formally united Europe.


In 1957 they signed the Treaty of Rome, which set up the European Economic Community (EEC), now known as the European Union.


The EU has 25 member states, 10 of them since 2004, these are: Estonia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic. Momentarily 3 countries apply for the entry to the European Union: Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey.


The main aims of the EU are the four freedoms, which are

Free movement of capital

Free movement of people

Free movement of goods and services

Free movement of labour


Further the member states agreed to do the following:

Removal of all trade barriers between member countries

All EU members have the same external tariffs

Co-ordination and common policies in the fields of agriculture, defence policy, economic policies, foreign trade, social affairs, etc.


In spring 1998 the European Council decides which member states formed part of the currency union (Euro). All member states have to comply with the convergence criteria which were set out in the Treaty of Maastricht. The five points were inflation, interest rates, national budget deficit, national debt and exchange rate. 2002 the single currency was introduced. It shall become a world currency.


In February 1992 twelve member states signed the Treaty of Maastricht (treaty of economic, monetary and political union). The commitment of the Treaty of Maastricht was for example:

To create a European Central Bank

To adopt a single currency

To adopt a joint foreign and security policy

To promise more money to Spain, Ireland, Greece and Portugal, the Community’s poorest members.






The EU institutions are:

The European Commission

The European Parliament

The Council of Minister

The Court of Justice



The European Council

The Economic and Social Committee


The referendum for the entry of Austria took place in 1994, it was a clear decision by a 2/3 majority, when they were asked to join the European Union. Only 39 per cent would still vote for the EU now.


The agreement declined because only some prices for basic farm commodities got reduced (as promised by the Austrian politicians), prices on most other goods remained at their old level or rose. The Austrian population is disappointed by the fact that many consumer goods are cheaper in neighbouring EU countries so they travel regularly to foreign towns.


Achievements and Problems




Achievements:

Each member country stopped charging taxes on imported goods which helped to create:

A large home market,

cheaper goods,

a wider range of goods, and

a better standard of living for community citizens.


Problems:

But in Austria consumer goods prices have not fallen as quickly and as sharply as expected.


Achievements:

On the other hand if you join something late you have to wait longer to see the advantages.




Achievements:

Another achievement is freedom of work. All citizens of the European Union are free to seek jobs in any Community country.


Problems:

But critics maintain that Austria’s EU-memberships has led to rising unemployment. Further unemployment in EU countries is currently running at 18,2 millions, or 11 per cent.






Achievements:

The Schengen agreement makes travelling faster inside Schengenland, travellers do not have to show their passports when crossing frontiers.


Problems:

But traffic on Austrian motorways has increased. International crime, terrorism, drugs and illegal immigration could be increasing in this frontier-free zone.


Achievements:

Therefore tougher checks on travellers arriving from outside have been introduced.




Achievements:

A big bloc can exert influence on world affairs, because one country is too small and insignificant to stand alone.


Problems:

EU-memberships could bring about the loss of national identity and culture. The smaller countries might be dominated by the big fish: Germany, France and Great Britain.




Achievements:

The Community with a market of 340 million people offers Austrian business major opportunities.


Problems:

But Austria is a net contributor to the EU budget, it contributes more to the budget that it receives in payments from the EU.


Achievements:

But the money is not spent in vain. The Community helps regions and groups with economic difficulties.


Effects of enlargement


The eight East European governments have laboured hard to adopt a mountain of EU rules and standards, but its gross domestic product amounts to less than one twentieth. The East Europeans have made many sacrifices, the current 15 members have made none so far. For the first three years, they will share a modest pot of money originally envisaged for only six countries. The money is given in form of agricultural subsidies and regional development grant.












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