European Union (EU) (Geo Alive) (2013)

• The EU is a supranational organization.
• Supra is a Latin prefix that means “above”.
• The EU government stands above the government of
its individual member countries.
• Because it’s supranational, the EU has been able to
remove barriers that once made traveling between
European nations complicated.
• The EU was thus able to open borders and adopt a
new form of common currency: the EURO.
• Supranational Cooperation means that the European
nations are united in certain ways but divided in
• Essential question: What forces work for or
against supranational cooperation among
• Europe is a continent made up of different
countries and peoples. Throughout Europe’s
history, certain forces have brought its peoples
together, while other forces have pulled them
• Centripetal Forces bring people together.
• Centrifugal Forces pull people apart.
• The European Union was formed to unite
countries that had been torn apart by years of
• During the 1st half of the 20th century, Europe was
at war with each other and other nations.
• In 1914, World War I broke out in Europe and
lasted for 4 years, killing some 21 million people.
• Twenty years later (1939), World War II broke out
when Germany invaded Poland. World War II
lasted for 6 years and it left a death toll of 50
million people.
• At the end of the war, Europeans wanted to make
sure that another war would never happen again.
• In 1950 a French leader named Robert Schuman suggested that a
Union of European nations should be formed.
• In 1952, six countries signed a trade agreement that formed the
European Coal and Steel Community— the 1st prototype of the EU.
• Later, this group of countries created a common market for steel
and coal products. In a common market the trade barriers, such
as tariffs are eliminated.
• The countries that formed this alliance were Belgium, France,
West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.
• In 1958, the same six countries created the European Economic
Community (EEC), which then removed trade barriers for all kinds
of products, not just steel and coal.
• The EEC came to be known as the “Common Market”. Over the
years, more European countries joined the Common Market.
• In 1993, 12 Common Market countries formed
the European Union (EU).
• The main goal of the EU is to promote peace and
prosperity (that is, economic well-being).
• The EU works towards this goal by creating jobs,
protecting citizens’ rights, and preserve the
environment. It also promotes freedom, security,
and justice for its members.
• By 2012, the EU has 27 member countries with
several other countries hoping to join.
• Centrifugal force: a force that divides people and
• Centripetal force: a force that divides people and
• Common Market: a group of countries that acts as a
single market, without trade barriers between
member countries.
• Supranational cooperation: a form of international
cooperation in which countries give up some control
of their affairs as they work together to achieve
shared goals or goals in common.
• Before the EU, each European country had its own
rules about who could live or work within its borders.
Each country had its own currency (money).
• Individual countries also charged tariffs or taxes on
goods imported from their neighbors, making theses
goods more expensive for people to buy.
• Today, members of the EU work together toward
shared economic goals.
• Many centripetal forces promote such economic
cooperation, but centrifugal forces work against unit
at the same time.
• Elimination of tariffs amongst member countries.
• Elimination of barriers for people to travel to
other member countries to find work.
• Adoption of a common currency: the EURO (2002).
• Creation of a powerful trade bloc, that is, a group
of countries with greater purchasing world power.
• Improvement of working conditions and
infrastructure within EU countries.
• There are economic differences between Western
European and Eastern European countries.
• Western Europeans are wealthier than Eastern ones.
To compensate for that Western European countries
spend a lot of money on Eastern ones.
• Many Western Europeans object to such spending.
Wages are also lower in Eastern European countries
so factories and businesses from the West have
moved there to pay the workers lower salaries.
• Eastern European workers also move to Western
countries to find better jobs therefore displacing
Western European workers or lowering the minimum
• In addition, some EU countries have decided to keep their own
currencies, while others have been denied the use of the EURO
until they can prove their economies are stable enough.
• Greece is the latest example of a member country
that’s dividing the EU theses days.
• The EU does not replace the individual governments
of each member country. Instead, the EU government
is supranational, that is, it operates above the
governments of its members, but all members
participate in the EU government.
• The EU government is made up of different entities:
– The European Commission: the executive branch.
– The European Parliament: the legislative branch.
• EU citizens are allowed and encouraged to vote on
elections for government officials and on important
issues that concern all member countries of the EU.
• On the other hand, centrifugal forces also divide the
EU politically by having their members give up some
political power in lieu of a supranational one.
• EU motto: “United in Diversity”
• EU flag:
• EU anthem: Beethoven's 9th Symphony (“Ode to Joy”).
• The EU works to create a common cultural identity
at the same time it recognizes the diversity of the
different peoples from the member nations.
• The EU is the best example of supranational
cooperation in the world today.
• Centripetal forces work toward such cooperation.
• Centrifugal forces work against unity.
• The EU works because its member countries have
been willing to give up some power—just how
much power, remains an issue.
• Some Europeans welcome unity while others don’t.
• Cooperation amongst countries is not limited to
Europe, however. A good example of it is NAFTA.

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