The history of Europe was the history of war. The wars bore the modern nations of Europe such as England, France, Germany, Russia, and Italy. Afterwards, they developed their own cultures, which are nationalities, languages, traditions and histories. Due to this characteristic mixed with these various cultures and its nation-centred international politics system of Europe, there rarely was period that ceased from wars in Europe. Furthermore, two world wars in XX century caused the collapse of all Europe’s peace and prosperity and Europe, as a result, was no longer the centre of the world. The world power was already moved on the U.S.A and the U.S.S.R. For this reason, people of Europe started to perceive the need of its combination and the European Union was made to restore political peace and economic prosperity of Europe (Nugent, 2006).
At this point, it is needed to ask that the European Union has truly fetched peace and prosperity to Europe. It strongly appears to me that the European Union has contributed to political stability and economic growth to Europe. To demonstrate it, this essay will deal with the following aspects of the historical efforts and intergovernmental agreements which the European Union has made to contributed to political stability and economic growth of Europe in XX century.
Above all, it is essential to define the mutual relation between political peace and economic prosperity. These two important factors which can decide the rise and fall of each country tend to move together. It means that it is hard to say that there is prosperity without peace or peace without prosperity. For a recent example, economic status of Ireland was almost the lowest in the European Union in the past but now is definitely regarded as a wealthy country in the European Union. This remarkable economic rise led to synchronize the decrease of al large number of armed conflicts in Northern Ireland, one of the most unstable areas in Northern Europe. In other words, this means that it is clear that political stability of a country was highly dependent on economic prosperity (Strong, 2006). Therefore, peace and prosperity are achieved separately rather simultaneously. Equally, it is needed to approach to political peace and economic prosperity of Europe in this way. Peace and prosperity of Europe through the European Union have not gained respectively but coincidently.
The first significant movement that brought peace and prosperity to Europe was the treaty of ‘The European Coal and Steel Community’. After the Second World War, it was widely diffused to aim at ‘United Europe’ for its peace and prosperity seeing Europe impoverished by war. Robert Schuman, the French Foreign Minister at that time, suggested epoch-making idea about creation of the consolidated organisation that jointly supplies and controls strategically important resources such as coal and steel. This is called ‘The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC)’ and it became the cornerstone of the European Union (http://europa.eu/ecsc/results/index_en.htm). It was obvious that this ECSC treaty brought rise of living standards to overall European society with high economic growth of each country, based on common market, common goal and common organisation. In addition, The ECSC provided with not only co-operation of the field of Coal and Steel but also political stability of Europe still surrounded with fear of war. It means that it became possible to check each other between nations of Europe by joint distribution and joint control of Coal and Steel, which is indispensible for war.
The second important movement with respect to peace and prosperity of Europe is the Single European Act of 1986 (SEA). In the period of 1971-86, Europe was in heavy economic recession. This stagnation could be regarded as a result that EC members did not successfully cope three serious incidents such as ‘the collapse of the Bretton Woods system, the oil crisis, and the resulting bad economic results’ (Ciftci, 2005:476).
Afterwards, in 1985-91, The European Union accomplished prompt growth in the process of economic integration of Europe. However, there was the budgetary crisis, which was an obstruction to progress economic integration of Europe. It was fortunately settled by Mitterrand’s consent in 1984 about sharing a great amount of the expenses with respective to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget. Consequently, these successive events extended into the creation of the Single European Act of 1986 (ibid).
Beyond all, the main issue of the SEA was the accomplishment of internal single market of Europe. The SEA became the opportunity to support institutionally development of the internal single market and deregulation. Through the SEA, the integration process of European community was changed qualitatively. Internal single market is qualitatively different concept from free trade zone between nations or geographical extends of trade. In other words, this internal single market means that each government should be pushed to adopt common standards such as technology, regulations, and norms and so on. It means that all European countries should be responsible for mutual economic benefits. More importantly, needless to say each government, European commission and supranational capitals, this progress was supported by public opinion and even many trade unions such as public consensus (Benink, 1992). It means that the SEA brought economic growth to Europe and, at the same time, drew a conclusion, national consensus which can be developed to political stability. As a consequence, it is seen that peace and prosperity of Europe were not achieved separately. They mostly come together.
The third remarkable movement related with peace and prosperity of Europe is the Maastricht treaty of 1992. This treaty brought the most innovative outcome. The Economic and Monetary Union of 2000 was inaugurated. This was definitely the climax of exertion of European Community’s countries that had accelerated European monetary integration for around 30 years and also the turning point in history, which proceeded to new stage of European integration (Grieco, 1995). As a result of this treaty, European single currency, the Euro was launched in 1999. By launching the Euro, it was vanished to lose the benefits due to extreme fluctuations in the exchange rate and became clear to know prices of other countries’ merchandise. In addition, there was no longer exchange fee. These advantages of the Euro led to more active international trade between European nations and ultimately brought the economic prosperity of Europe.
Moreover, in the Maastricht treaty, the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) was launched. The CFSP included all areas related to joint security, joint defense and diplomacy of the European Union. Despite that militarily importance of the United States of America was relatively reduced by extinction of the USSR’s threat, it was still seen that European nations was dependent on the USA. This was mainly because the NATO, which still had important role in European security due to disability regarding dispute resolution of European nations, was practically moved by the USA. In this circumstance, a bond of sympathy that Europe needed its own military strength to cope jointly increasing international terrorism and geopolitical conflicts began to be naturally formed. Subsequently, the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) was initiated according to the Maastricht treaty (Hurd, 1994). The purposes of the CFSP were ‘to safeguard the common values, fundamental interests and independence of the Union and to develop and consolidate democracy and the rule of law, and the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.’ (Nugent, 2006:90).
Hence, it can be told that the Maastricht treaty consequently begot peace and prosperity of Europe by pursuit of two objectives such as The Economic and Monetary Union and the Common Foreign and Security Policy.
To sum up, by examining three significant treaties in this essay, it becomes self-evident that the European Union has constantly pursued peace and prosperity of Europe by advancing the treaties and implementing them and they have finally built the new framework of peace and prosperity of Europe. Additionally, it is also crucial to comprehend that political peace and economic prosperity are concurrently fulfilled. It is true that the European Union has kept a large number of difficulties to stabilise national status for decades. Nevertheless, it is undoubtedly certain that the European Union will be a high-quality model of many areas where peace and prosperity need.
Benink, Harald, A. (1992). Financial Integration in Europe: Financial and Monetary Policy Studies. Dordrecht; Boston, Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Ciftci, Sabri. (2005). Treaties, Collective Responses and the Determinants of Aggregate Support for European Integration. European Union Politics 2005 Vol 6: 469-92. SAGE Publications.
Grieco, Joseph, M. (1995). The Maastricht Treaty, Economic and Monetary Union and the neo-realist research programme. Review of International Studies Vol 21: 21-40. Printed in Great Britain.
http://europa.eu/ecsc/results/index_en.htm (Accessed 09 November 2010).
Hurd, Douglas. Developing the Common Foreign and Security Policy. International affairs, Vol 70, No 3: 421-28. Blackwell Publishing.
Nugent, Neill. (2006). The Government and Politics of the European Union, 6th ed. New York, Palgrave Macmillan.
Strong, Michael. (2006). Understanding the Power of Economic Freedom to Create Peace. FLOW, Inc.