Following World War II, there was a profound political motive for peace and security within Europe and, as a result, European integration began (Pinder, Chapter 1, para. 7). Belgium, France, Italy, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg were the six countries that really began this process with the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community. As Pinder notes, the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community was really the first step “in a process of political as well as economic unification” within Europe (Chapter 1, para. 11). After the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community, European integration continued with the Treaties of Rome, setting up the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community, with a focus placed on creating a common market and open borders for trade between the six countries (Pinder, Chapter 2, para. 8). The success of this would lead to other countries within Europe applying to join; thus, the Community expanded in 1951 from six countries “to fifteen by 1995, and to 27 in 2007” (Wallace et al., 5). Many steps were taken along the way, including the signing of various treaties seeking to enhance political and economical integration within Europe. This would ultimately lead to the Maastricht Treaty which would establish the European Union (Pinder, Chapter 2, para. 12).
The history of how the European Union was created was not as simple as the first paragraph depicts. Throughout the entire process, the balance between member states and an actual European Community was difficult. As Wallace et al. notes, the European Union is “built out of three original separate Communities, each with different powers, characteristics, and policy domain, complemented by other ‘pillars’ of organized cooperation” (5). As a result, consensus was not always guaranteed. The European Union has now emerged as a partnership model with a key feature of its policy process placed upon cross-agency coordination (Wallace, 10). This emergence; however, has led to the fragmentation of member state’s national governments (Goet et al., 9). What has become evident, is that the peculiar institutional structure of the European Union has become a challenge for governments (Goet et. al., 9).
This history of struggle between the European Union (particularly the Commission) and the European member states suggests that the current economic (and governance) crisis will only heighten this struggle. While European member states will want to have more control in how to deal with the issues plaguing their economy, the European Union has become a dominating influence, something that some member states don’t appreciate. Thus, the current economic crisis will challenge the relationship between the European Union and its member states. However, European integration has gone too far for a reversal. In order to get pass the current crisis, member states and the European Union will have to work together and continue to build towards a more integrated Europe once dreamed about 60+ years ago.
***Note: I downloaded the book from Pinder on my Kindle so I had to use paragraphs instead of page numbers. Hopefully that is okay.