European Union (EU): The Rationale Behind its Formation Essay

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            The development of representative parliamentary institutions and the codification of mans fundamental rights constitute processes which are fundamental for any liberal democratic politics. This paper will argue that developments on fundamental issues on liberal democratic politics are, however, not solely restricted to the domain of the nation-state.

For the past half century, the European Unions (EU) Parliament has undergone a remarkable transformation from an assembly endowed with supervisory power to a directly-elected legislator, co-deciding most secondary legislations on equal footing with the Council of Ministers. While human rights were not institutionalized in the founding Treaties of the European Communities, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) began to make references to fundamental rights in its jurisprudence since the late sixties (Stone Sweet, 2000).

The recent development on this area resulted to the codification of fundamental rights in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and, most recently, in the Rome Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. Yet, the process which underlie these two developments is fundamentally different to that of parliamentarization and institutionalization of human rights in nation-states. In the EU, these processes have not been triggered from below by civic protests or even revolutionary movements, or as a result of the intervention of foreign powers.

            The phenomenon we refer to as constitutionalization is the process whereby the EUs institutional architecture and legal order increasingly come to reflect the fundamental norms and principles of liberal democracies. Thus, the central focus of this paper is to identify the dynamics and mechanisms that bring about the parliamentarization and institutionalization of human rights.

We will answer the following fundamental issues: Why and under what conditions have human rights become increasingly enshrined in the EUs legal architecture? Why has the European Parliament (EP) come to acquire powers over time that resemble those of national parliaments more than those of any parliamentary assembly of an international organization (Malamud and de Sousa 2004; Rittberger, 2005 p. 2-3)?

            We will argue that for explanations inspired by both rationalist and constructivist institutionalism these two phenomena constitute a puzzle which has not yet been resolved. To counter this state of affairs, we propose to analyze the EUs constitutionalization as strategic action in a community environment (Schimmelfennig, 2003). According to this approach, community actors may resolve to use the liberal democratic identity, values and norms that constitute the EUs ethos strategically to put social and moral pressure on those community members opposing the EUs constitutionalization.

Theoretically, strategic action will be most effective in a community environment if constitutional issues are highly salient, constitutional norms possess high international legitimacy and resonate well with domestic norms, and if constitutional negotiations are made public. In a first attempt to test our argument empirically, we conduct a Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) of the EUs constitutional decisions from 1951 to 2004. While the results generally confirm the hypothesized conditions, they reveal salient facts thus far the most relevant condition of EUs constitutionalization.

            However, the European Union”EU for short”is an organization that brings together many European countries for their economic and political development. The end of World War II, statesmen from warring nations looked for ways to work together in the future. The two world wars that Europe experienced resulted to massive death and destruction.

In this regard, European politicians wanted a better way to solve their disagreements without resulting to bloodshed and misery among the populace. At the outset, the first alliance formed by few European countries were aimed at running their respective nations coal and steel industries resulting to the EUs massive growth and development including the increase of its membership to 25 separate countries across Europes diversified political landscape.  The institution has its own parliament, court of justice, foreign relations, trade and commerce and majority of its members using the same currency, the Euro.

Who belong to the EU?

            Todays European Union grew out of the European Coal and Steel Community, which was set up in 1951. At that time, there were just six members: France, West Germany (now Germany), Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. In 1973, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark joined the organization, which had changed its name to the European Community. Greece joined in 1981, Spain and Portugal in 1986, and Austria, Sweden and Finland in 1995 by which time the groups name was changed. Following the signing of the 1992 Maastrichts Treaty, the European Community became the European Union. Ten more countries joined in 2004: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia (The History of European Union, 2007, n.p.).

Why was the EU Establish?

            The people who establish the union in 1951 aimed at promoting peace among the member states and decided that the best way to guarantee peace was for people to trade goods as freely as possible across transnational borders. Thus, each nations wealth would depend partly on the wealth of the others, so each would have an interest in others prosperity (EU Grolier Encyclopedia of Knowledge, pp. 246-251).

            The first aim was to get rid of barriers to trade such as customs duties. These are the taxes paid when goods are moved from one country to another. It is also easier for workers from one country to find jobs in another. Later, other goals became important too. Some people wanted member nations to work more closely together politically, so that major decisions will decided by the union as an institution. Today, people still argue about which powers should be kept by each member nation and which should be passed to the EU as a whole (EU Grolier Encyclopedia of Knowledge, pp. 246-251).

How the EU works?

            The four main parts of the EU are the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers and the Court of Justice. The European Commission, which has its headquarters in the Belgian capital, Brussels, is made up of representatives from each of the member states with a job of overseeing the smooth functioning of the EU and upholding EUs rules on fiscal responsibility and accountability. The commissioners also put forward new ideas for the community to act on (European Union. New Standard Encyclopedia, pp. 304-311).

            Any measure proposed by the Commission has to be approved by the Council of Ministers composed of government ministers from every member state. The Commissions suggestion also has to be approved by the European Parliament, which meets in Strasbourg, France. There 732 European Parliament members (in 2004) who are elected by voters across Europe having different representations depending on the size of their population. The parliament possess veto powers (turn down) on new laws passed by the Council of Ministers. It can also refuse to accept proposals on how EU plans to spend its budgetary allocation (European Union New Standard Encyclopedia, pp. 304-311).

            As the fourth body, the Court of Justice brings together judges from every member state and together they settle disagreements between member states and among different EU organizations. Also, citizens of member states have the right to appeal to the Court of Justice if their national laws is in conflict with those laid down by the EU as a whole (Barzini, 2003).

Below are the names of the European Union Commissions Presidents:

European Union Commission Presidents


Facing the Future. The European Union is still growing. Other nations, including Romania and Bulgaria, hope to join soon. For more than half a century, EU has succeeded in its main aim of keeping its member states at peace with each other inspite of its political and economic diversity. Notwithstanding its shortcomings, it never failed to spread prosperity across Europe and beyond. It is ever ready to face various challenges if EU wants to be relevant for the next 50 years.

EUs Constitutionalization

            Integration theorists have for long debated the causes of transfers of sovereignty from domestic to the supranational level. The theory-oriented causal and empirical analysis of constitutional negotiations and outcomes has been a stronghold of rationalist liberal intergovernmentalism which regards economic interdependence, commercial interests, bargaining power, and the institutionalization of state commitments to bargaining outcomes as the central factors in the institutional development of the EU (Moravcsik, 2000).

Other rationalist studies on the delegation of competences to EU institutions inspired by principalagent theory have focused on the Commission or the ECJ (Pollack, 1999; 2005) while neglecting other aspects of constitutional politics such as parliamentarization and the institutionalization of human rights. It has been demonstrated that these processes are difficult to explain on the basis of both rationalist intergovernmentalist as well as constructivist premises (Rittberger, 2005).

Rationalism and constitutionalization

            From a rationalist perspective, actors in constitutional politics seek to institutionalize competences and rules of decision-making which are most likely to maximize their utilities in future political bargains for which, however, the constellation of actors and preferences is uncertain. In order to determine what kind of rules maximize an actors utility, rationalists make auxiliary assumptions regarding those interests and preferences integral to their utility function. Rationalist explanations for institutional choices in the EU stress a number of functions exercised by institutions which induce political actors to delegate sovereignty.

First, institutional choices can reduce the transaction costs associated with decision-making and thus carry efficiency-enhancing effects. For instance, slimming a legislative procedure by reducing the number of readings or, more drastically, reducing the number of veto players involved in decision-making may speed up decision-making or reduce the potential for stalemate or non-decision and hence reduce the costs of decision-making.

However, especially with regard to the latter example, attempts to improve the efficiency of institutional arrangements may carry significant distributional implications. Actors may challenge existing institutions not merely to improve the efficiency of decision-making but also to improve their capacity to affect policy decisions (Tsebelis, 1999; Knight, 2002). The second strand of literature thus looks at actors as policy-seekers, who prefer those institutions which best help them to lock in their preferred policy-streams.

Conclusion and Recommendation

            In this paper, we have analyzed the deficiencies of extant rationalist and constructivist analyses of EU parliamentarization and institutionalization of human rights. As an alternative, we proposed to analyze these two processes of constitutionalization as strategic action in a community environment. Theoretically, this approach provides a causal mechanism and conditions under which, in the absence of efficiency, common interests, and a constitutional consensus among EU member states, parliamentarization and the institutionalization of human rights will progress in the EU.




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