Europe is gradually emerging as the world’s new superpower. Experts believe that within a couple of decades, the European Union will equal – if not surpass – the United States as the dominant economic force on the world stage. At present, the EU is enormously prosperous and technologically advanced. It encompasses four of the Big Seven economic powers: Germany, Great Britain, France and Italy. Moreover, geopolitically, it includes a unified Germany in further union with its historic rivals, France and Great Britain. Add Russia to the mix and the implications are mind-boggling. The emergence of the continental superpower raises the prospect of a union more formidable than the United States, stretching from the Atlantic across Eurasia to the Bering Sea.
Europe was a united entity during the era of Roman Empire. However, it got disintegrated into smaller units later. The situation changed when the rise of nationalism led to the unification of countries in the 1870s (e.g. unification of Germany, unification of Italy etc). Nonetheless, this was not without conflicts.
- Conflicts and rivalry between European counties created many wars – including World War I (1914-18) and World War II (1939-45). Europe then recognised that too much nationalism is also dangerous.
- The first steps were to foster economic cooperation: the idea being that countries that trade with one another become economically interdependent and so more likely to avoid conflict.
- The result was the European Economic Community (EEC) created in 1958. It increased the economic cooperation between six countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
- Since then, 22 other members joined to create a huge single market (also known as the ‘internal’ market). It continues to develop towards its full potential, under a new banner – European Union (since 1993).
- The process acquired a political dimension with the creation of the European Parliament.
- What began as a purely economic union has evolved into an organization spanning policy areas, from climate, environment and health to external relations and security, justice and migration.
Why the EU can?
- The European Union (EU) has been called an emerging superpower by scholars and academics like T. R. Reid, Andrew Reding, Andrew Moravcsik and some politicians like Romano Prodi and Tony Blair.
- The EU has an economic, political, diplomatic and military influence.
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