This year the European Union celebrates its 60th year in existing as an international organization to promote collaboration and free-movement for its members’ citizens. It is following through one of the longest peace times in Europe in modern time and have been through both bad and good times. During the last few years the union have been facing some of its biggest hardships ever and the future for the union is more unclear than ever.
After the second world war, most parts of Europe was left in ruins. Not even half way through the 20th century, two world wars had occurred, both originating from Europe. Europe has had a long history of conflicts between the many states and regions that have come and gone. Something had to be done in order to prevent further devastating conflicts between the countries in the region. The first step of collaboration was the ”European Coal and Steel Community” that started in 1951 between six countries. The European Union arose from this collaboration six years later in 1957 trough the treaties of Rome which stated that a ”common market” should exist between the members of the community. Over the years the union have grown and consist today of 28 members. Although that number will soon be changed to 27, due to the decision of the UK to leave the EU last summer.
Over its 60 years history, the union has witnessed several major changes and happenings in the region. In its creation the ”cold war” had just begun, and Germany and other part of the region was divided by an iron curtain in the form of the Soviet Union. In the 90s, all of this had changed and many of the boarders that had existed was teared down. Until the 21st century everything seemed to work in the union’s favor and the expansion and development continued. Over the last few years though, the union have been facing several setbacks that have left it in an unsure state. Things became crucial after the financial crisis in 2008 and the impacts it had on many countries economies like Greece that was left in shambles. The war in Syria and the refuge crisis, as well as the many terrorist attacks in European cities have continued to deepen the problems in Europe and the union on how to handle the situation. With Brexit, UK leaving the union, it will lose some of its magnitude and importance as a global player in the world. Voices are also raised in the member states that the union dictates and control too much of their own sovereignty.
All these challenges are currently burdening the union.
Being born in the 90s here in Europe makes it hard to imagine a time without the EU. Some say that this year might be crucial for the future of the union, with the election of a new president in France, and the federal election in Germany. With UK leaving, Germany and France will be left as the strongest bearers and protectors of the union. If the results in either countries would be in favor for an EU skeptical leader, the fear is that it might be the end of EU as we know it today. A common complain with EU is the bureaucracy and the many regulations it creates. Many people do not know how the EU works and how the policies are being made, even though the policies can have important consequences for people in the member states.
It is easy to understand that if you only focus on the downside of the union’s work and do not see or take part of all the positive effects, you would want to leave it. Over the years EU has helped to create a more open and freely Europe with more collaboration and understanding between countries, and have helped to hold Europe together in its longest modern peace-time ever. With that said, EU is not perfect and much will have to be done in order to cope with the changing times and challenges. It is not possible to live on old merits forever. Making people aware of the work in the union is of vital importance in order to give people a better picture of the work of the union. It seems like people in Europe know more about how the American politics work than they do about EU politics. Important players in this sense are both news media and the members of the European Parliament that represent their constituency, their home countries. Mostly they are only heard from every five years when the election for the parliament is held. To hear more often from these members in the news about their works and progress in different questions can benefit people’s regular knowledge of what they are doing and how things are going.
“The nearest question is whether EU will succumb these hard times, or manage to raise again.“
EU has been through a lot over its 60 years history and is facing a decisive moment in its existence. The nearest question is whether EU will succumb these hard times, or manage to raise again. The future may be unsure, but the union has been through hard times before and will work hard to solve the current challenges.