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Course Essay

 

Political Aspects of European Integration

 

By: Yaroslav Sinitsov, EUBL

 

Has the EU reached the limits of integration?

 

Introduction

 

Before answering this question, let us face some obvious facts. So far,

the European Union has been the most advanced and successful alliances

of the independent countries in the modern history. One cannot deny that

it is only the EU which established – at least in the first pillar – a

new legal order for its Member States, by which they voluntarily shared

their sovereignty based on the rule of law in order to achieve the

common task, as set forth by Article 2 of the Treaty Establishing the

European Community: ‘...to promote throughout the Community a harmonious

and balanced development of economic activities, sustainable and

non-inflationary growth respecting the environment, a high degree of

convergence of economic performance, a high level of employment and of

social protection, the raising of a standard of living and quality of

life, and economic and social cohesion and solidarity among Member

States.’ But as with any other international treaty, there is always

room for diversity in interpretation. If the right to interpret the

Treaty provisions and other Community legislation had been vested in

Member States, the EU would have been nothing different but just another

international treaty nicely falling within the general system of public

international law, where no contracting party can be bound against its

will. The EU is unique to have the European Court of Justice which,

unlike any other international tribunals, has a compulsory jurisdiction

and an exclusive authority to interpret the Community legislation. By

widely interpreting the EC legislation and relying not just on the text,

but also on ‘the spirit’ of the Treaty, the European Court of Justice

has actually developed its own doctrine which is now seen as one of the

important sources of the Community law. This doctrine has played a

crucial role in implementing EU policies, since the text of the Treaty

and other Community legislation cannot cover in detail all aspects of

integration.

 

Main Part

 

But why integrate? What makes people act against their cautious

political interests? The answer was given by Jean Monnet, one of the

founding fathers of the European Communities and a lover of aphorisms -

“People only accept changes when faced with necessity, and only

recognise necessity when the crisis is upon them”. Although I completely

agree with the first part of Monnet’s saying, I would like to replace

the word ‘only’ with the word ‘better’. A deep crisis is probably the

most powerful impetus to bring people’s and countries together, although

not the only one. This is exactly what happened immediately after the

World War II. The need for fundamental political and economic change in

Europe was extremely strong. As the Cold War commenced and the Iron

Curtain abruptly divided the continent, integration became a means by

which the Western Europe could defend itself, in close co-operation with

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