What’s the Point of the European Union? | Let’s Talk | NPROn February 8, 2020 by Raul Dinwiddie
Some see it primarily as a peace project that grew out of a desire for stability and security after two world wars devastated the continent. Others argue it’s a super-state that infringes on the national democratic freedoms of its member states. Either way, one thing is clear: The EU started out as a trading bloc in the aftermath of the Second World War. In 1957, France, West Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Luxembourg signed the Treaty of Rome creating the European Economic Community. Their hope was to avoid conflict by trading
with each other. As membership grew, it became a fully fledged single market, allowing the free movement of goods and services, and what started as just an economic union has also become a political union. Today, the EU is based on the rule of law. Its members remain sovereign, independent
states, but in matters of mutual interest, they delegate some of their decision-making powers to key EU institutions, of which they are all a part. Those institutions create policies ranging
from climate, health, human rights, education and research, foreign relations and security, to justice and migration. All of its 500 million citizens are entitled to live, study and work anywhere they wish within the EU. The bloc is also, in part, a monetary union, with 19 of its members sharing a common currency, the euro. Of course, in a 2016, a narrow majority of the British electorate voted to give up its membership and – as the “Leave”
campaign put it – “take back control” from Brussels. It remains to be seen what impact this very first departure of a long-term member will have on the union.