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Check Out Our European Integration and Current Affairs Essay

Part I

On the 9th day of May 1950, the then French Robert Schuman released a proposed vision meant to set Europe to be united and set the path for what became the European Union (Wyles, par. 1). His vision made it clear that preservation of peace was extremely needed by the European countries in order to ensure sustainability and economic growth of the member-countries. However, more than sixty years down the line and under a new union, challenges that have threatened to knock Schuman’s vision of course are evident in terms of the recession that has hit the EU as well as the rest of the world. Bearing this in mind, it is therefore imperative that European Union members remain united and work together to enhance their economic progress (Wyles, par. 6-10). The future of Europe is geared towards having a single bloc that shares common interests, and therefore, a common currency. Scholars believe that this will bring about a single, strong market, which will increase the EU harmony thus giving the possibility of the EU having a bright future. This is true, since the perception that Europe had lacked vision and was in a quagmire is en vogue. In order to achieve a common destiny, these European countries must sacrifice and compromise in order to boost productivity and the desired economic growth, which in turn promotes political stability in those member countries.

The crisis that befell the euro has brought a shift of power in Europe with Germany coming tops as the leader, while France is demoted to a subordinate and Britain opts to take the sidelines. This is a contributing factor to the weakening of the European Commission. Jean Monnet and Charles de Gaulle had competing visions for Europe. Monnet wanted an integrated Europe that had a single common market, the structure that is in current use. On the other hand, Gaulle was of the option that the countries that had big economies were the ones to call the shots in the decision making, the reason why the current European Union is failing for agree on the treaties making the noble Monnet’s idea to be forgotten (Grant, par 2-7). Neofunctionalism has brought about the creation of a common currency, which has curbed the fluctuations that arise as a result of countries having different national currencies (Cooper, par. 5). This was possible as unscrupulous traders could not put bets placed against individual currencies, which would have been disastrous during the financial crisis that rocked the EU. However, having the euro has put pressure on the EU members perceived to be weaker who in turn are forced to pay inflated interests in by bond markets in order to borrow. These countries cannot put a defense for themselves with the mechanisms of monetary policy, for instance getting devaluated. This spill over from previous regimes has led to the common currency that has led to demands for a framework that is common regarding spending. The future of the euro has been the main concern for the EU, not only because of its fragile stability, but also because it is common currency, which means it holds the future of majority of the European projects at stake. An implosion of the euro would spell disaster to the EU Member countries wreaking havoc in the economic, financial, political and social life (Ahauser, par. 8). Such a situation would lead to the global financial system collapsing, collapse of the EU member states economies, mass riots and violent confrontations arising from mass unemployment. Such an occurrence would plunge the EU into an abyss and therefore the EU institutions and members should do all that is possible to prevent such an occurrence

As shown by Torreblanca, the European Union has guided the world in practicing democracy and there it in uncomfortable to notice that democratic governance is under threat from financial priorities that have been hastened and done through the back door. The threat to democracies is mainly brought by leaders who are more economic oriented and tough financial bosses thus tend to shelf democratic priorities (par. 2). The euro crisis is also threatening to destabilize the EU democracies as shown by an almost two year period of divisions and doubts that have led to a lack in proper guidance and courage needed to put into action the European solution, which in turn has catalyzed the unpopular perception by people of the member states towards their national democracies as well as directed towards the European project. The threat of government yielding to internal pressures, especially in the Arab countries has done little to allay the fears. Also, instead of democracy being bolstered in the European member countries, the crisis is fuelling technocracy both in the national levels and the European levels through the European Commission, which in turn bosses the European Union governments (par 7-14). This article about Cameron’s ‘no’ being bad to Europe implied that the British Premier had ‘abandoned ship’ as a result of pressures from the members of parliament in his country. Britain had absconded from its duties in the European Union despite being a “top table” partner together with Germany, France and Italy. Britain had joined the then European Commission yet this in order to safeguard her interests, yet this time it was also going to the sidelines allegedly to guard  its national interests, which were viewed as narrow minded. Britain stepping aside is a big blow to the EU, as it cannot afford to have economic superpowers and their democracies not being on board. It is evident, that without the British involvement, the security and foreign policies will not be credible (Ash, par. 1-10).

With the financial meltdown and internal wrangles within the Member States of EU, it is important salvage the little that remains of the union. However, the EU’s structures and mechanisms cannot cope with the enormous economic and political issues that are facing the countries in the present times. It has run short of the legitimacy that it requires to operate effectively and efficiently. Such issues are brought about by the euro, which cannot allow the reinforcement in stability between Eurozone countries and the new members that may join in, since it is liable to greater degree in economic and political bias (Van Hulten, par 1-12). Therefore, it is only imperative that the current EU is dissolved and another European body with fresh mandate, new legislation and with a common agenda should be formed in order to allow proper development of the member countries.

Part II

One of the most compelling political challenges that lay ahead of the European Union is coming into an agreement for post 2013 Multi Financial Framework (MFF). Heated arguments over budget size are having a run ahead of debate over the direction, in which funds are spent (Stationery Office (U. K.), 2011) and the exact source of funds. Among the groups of Member States, France, UK and Germany are of the proposal that the budget should be frozen in the current level, invoking shared austerity principle, triggering a strong defense of the European Union Expenditure in countries like Poland and other Member States with similar spending characteristics. A large number of such debates and arguments lie ahead with plots and subplots the order of the day before this political bickering is brought to conclusion.

However, such altercations should not be used to overshadow the debate on how funds should be efficiently spent to support key installations in Europe. It is understandable that the most nagging worry for the presidents and their governments is how their countries and the European Union in general will get out of the financial crisis that has rocked major parts of the world (Grant, par 1). In reality, the business as usual approach will not resolve anything as per this time. For example, making a shift from high carbon to low carbon and resource efficient economy cannot be put off for another decade. This is one of the most important plans that have to be implemented after 2013. This means that no other alternative exists, but to build on this objective into the future plans in order to have a sustainable economic recovery whose consequent doings will be to promote and advocate for innovative technologies, competitive industries and creation and maintenance of stable jobs. Building on this environmental perspective(Holland, et.al., 166 ), the important priority of the incoming MFF is to ensure that their movement towards an economy that is greener, when measured both by its carbon efficiency and how the economy will perform overall in the environment. In addition, it will also be tasked with creation of jobs by harnessing and training skilled workforce, and targeting on proper investment geared towards economic recovery. With this in mind, it is, therefore, important that the environment, including the climate dimension should be integrated into the agenda and must be recognized as such (Pededrsen, Knud et.al., 3-6 ).  Therefore, one of the critical visions for the incoming MFF is to ensure that the European economy is sustainable and the environment is taken care of well, a fete that had not been achieved by its predecessors. This MFF should be able to silence the critiques and pave way to show that the European Union can take itself out of this financial quagmire and forge ahead towards achieving its objectives. 

The discussions and debates that concern the incoming MFF come at a point, where major turning points in the European Union policies are being reached. Long-term roadmaps for key areas, such as climate change, resource and energy efficiency are under development in the Europe 2020 strategy process, which includes the publishing of Common Agricultural Policy, environment funding and Cohesion Policy. All of these have a restricted dimension in budget and therefore, the priority for the coming years will have to extend beyond the agenda of Europe 2020. This entails that the succeeding MFF should not allow itself to be restricted to such an economic strategy.

We have first to understand the importance of MFF towards sustaining the European Union economy. To start with, the EU budget has to be aligned appropriately by having a look into historical opportunities that had not been fulfilled and mapping them to the future long term goals. Ensuring that there is a green environment economy that has lower carbon emissions have to be recognized and appreciated as the proper and important directions to go towards. While under the MFF umbrella, spending will have a good impact on the future infrastructure, not only in terms of energy supply, conservation and transmission, but also in terms of water, proper transport, and proper design in rural and urban structures. Such infrastructure forms the foundation of building on the green economy. High investments, however, are needed from within and between the EU Member States. Taking this in mind, the next decade in the EU should see a notable shift in public support for needs in investment that are to be made in the period running to 2020, when the 2050 green economy foundations will be laid. The European Union finances have a vital role, in such they support the investments in addition to supporting other avenues in private and public spending. This means that a clear and concise plan for innovative finance tools is a must, which includes another look into the EIB’s priorities and mandate as we forge towards this direction. MFF is also armed with a vision that allows changes to be introduced in majority of the European Union funds that aids in improving the coherence, focus and effectiveness of expenditure. Ways of minimizing high carbon investments are possible to introduce. Therefore, it is important that such changes be targeted towards reflecting proper environmental policies.

The European Union Budget Review Communication (BRC) has the potential to assist pin-pointing the need to utilize the European budget more smartly as opposed to highlighting on how much less or more funds should be spent. BRC outlines the guide for focusing finances to important priorities with strong European added value (Pededrsen, Knud et.al., 18) with the aim of helping vital projects to attain their critical mass, while at the same time filling any gaps within. There is a need to balance between being result oriented and having the Communication give proper and decisive direction for change in critical spending areas so that there may not be many open queries regarding core priorities. Such a move greatly will enhance the added value in the European Union spending. Member States should also give clear signposts in terms of their future direction in order to produce the political force needed to push forward the reforms in the European Union.

The financial meltdown could have dented the progress of the European Union. Making MFF to be effective and result oriented will be the key factor in supporting the revival of the EU economy and concurrently making sure that there is a greener environment (Burchell and Simon, 31). The EU should also focus and show a significant commitment towards the removal of financial support towards unsustainable activities and support the utilization of new and better approaches, for example climate proofing  budget. However, challenges may occur while trying to determine the exact areas of the budget that are spent in core terms. Therefore, mechanisms to provide a considerable solution to such a problem would be to put into place well considered the European Union guidelines, selective use of delegated funds, stronger monitoring, intelligent eligibility rules and proper evaluation procedures as well as general transparency insistence. The inspection and auditing culture that have been established should be supplemented and supported by positive investment (European Policy Center, par 6-9) by Member States in capacity building, while European Union assists through technical aid.

Though this may impose the European Union Member States to adjust from the norm, the attempts to have an added value approach that is result oriented dismissed should must be resisted as being too bureaucratic (Torreblanca, par 7). Better mechanisms, such as climate proofing could provide vital information regarding efficiency in the EU economies in addition to having effectiveness in the environment, which will lead to an insightful investment prioritization. The European Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is far much greater than the European Union budget (OECD, 54). However, this budget has the potential to guide the needed changes in the proper direction, obtain leverage in terms of more funding from national and European sources, support numerous strategic policies as well as build new capacities. The EU budget has had a below par performance, failed to address properly the climate agenda and with the vital degree, but there is time, albeit short, to make it count from the period starting 2014. To achieve this, the European Member States should have greater ambition and dedication (Van Hulten, par. 14). 

With the EU leaders coming into agreement over the amendment of the bloc’s treaties in order to create a permanent mechanism for handling debt crisis and having managed to bridge the divisions that enabled stabilization of the bond markets, then the European Union can embark on the process of offering short term credits or using the rescue fund kitty to bail out distressed the EU members by buying their bonds. This will ensure that the bloc’s members are brought to a near equality in terms of economic strength. No member country will feel left out and they can freely feel properly integrated into the system and their voice in voting for key installations will be heard. The European Union President, Chancellor Angela Merkel (Germany) on her address after the European Union Summit in Brussels said that she had a vision for Europe that grew closer together whether it was through varying speeds. This is to say that the vision for the European Union and in particular MFF after 2013 is a united Europe which takes care of its environment to ensure proper climate for economic development as well as proper agricultural production. The  European Union that will be able to cater for the needs of its member states and bail out her ailing economies and ensure prosperity and adequate job opportunities for its citizens (Ahauser, par.13). 

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