The “narrative” of the European integration is relatively simple. After two World Wars tore through Europe, leaving the continent a mass of rubble, there was only one thought dominating the minds of Europeans: this cannot be allowed to happen again. Thus, beginning with the integration of the French and German coal and steel communities (two industries essential to war making) the now 27, soon to be 28, nations in the European Union have become so economically dependent on one another that war is virtually impossible.
However, the motivation for European integration is not the only aspect critical to the EU’s narrative. Politically, European integration has always been viewed through two different lenses. While the EU was originally envisioned by Schuman as a “European federation,” many have fought to maintain the power and independence of the nation state within the European framework (Schuman Declaration, 2). This debate regarding the exact function of the European Union remains to this day. Both camps agree that their system would serve the original purpose of ensuring peace, so then why the conflict? As the Union has grown, the needs of the nation states have changed. European countries are no longer only looking for a sustainable peace; they now seek “prosperity, with business and trade… protection of the environment… and influence in external relations” (Pinder & Usherwood, 9). This has meant that the governing institutions in the European Union have a larger role to play than simply managing the coal and steel industries. Thus, the balance of power between European institutions and national governments has been in constant flux. In particular, the Council of Ministers generally represents an intergovernmental position whereas the European Parliament promotes a more federalist approach (Pinder & Usherwood, 10).
Given the current economic and political crises facing the European Union it is clear that 60+ years of a common European history is just the beginning. Daily, EU institutions are dealing with new problems and acting in a way that is setting precedent for the future of the Union. And in accordance with the debate of national vs. institutional power, member states continue to push back against anything that could be considered too much oversight. Particularly in the case of economic recession in individual member states, given how interconnected European national economies are, it will be very interesting to witness how the EU will proceed to protect the European economy in the face of individual crises’.