European Union 50 years ago today, the Treaty of Rome was signed. It brought into being the European Economic Community, including France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. The idea of European integration had existed since before the Second World War, but it took that devastating war – and the external threat of the Soviet Union – to convince the states of Western Europe that they should unite to survive. 50 years later, the EEC is the EU – the most powerful international organization, and one of the largest political entities, on the planet, with 27 member states, 493 million people, and a $15 trillion economy.

So what exactly is the European Union? Allow me to quote myself:

The European Union is one of the largest and most complex organizations to ever exist. It is multi-faceted, partially intergovernmental, partially supranational. As Christiansen wrote, “the EU is increasingly seen as a system of multilevel governance, involving a plurality of actors on different territorial levels: supranational, national and subnational”. According to Everts and Keohane, “For most Europeans… the EU remains a baffling and distant organisation. Even Brussels insiders find it hard to explain how the EU works and who is responsible for what”.

Sounds confusing? There’s a reason for that. I’ll try to explain clearly… (the next two parts are from a case study I wrote for one of my 300-level papers last year)


The European Union was established by a series of treaties, negotiated by the governments of member states. The treaties provide for several supranational institutions, some with legislative power. The structure of the European Union is very complex, with several types of institution having different and overlapping powers, and different ways of making decisions. Some decisions are made by Qualified Majority Voting, and more important decisions are made by the unanimous consent of member states.

The three most important institutions are the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. The European Commission is analogous to the executive arm of a national government – it proposes and implements legislation, supported by thousands of civil servants in several Directorates-General. The European Parliament and the Council of Ministers form the legislative arm. The Council of Ministers represents national governments of member states, passing EU law and co-ordinating policy. Some decisions are made unanimously, others by Qualified Majority Voting, with voting powers weighted by population (but biased toward smaller states). The European Parliament is intended to oversee and monitor the activities of the other institutions, and can amend or veto some EU legislation, and, by adopting a motion of censure with a two-thirds majority, force the resignation of the entire Commission.

These institutions are appointed in different ways. The Commission consists of 25 commissioners, each chosen by a member state but not instructed by their government – they should represent the interests of the EU as a whole. The 25 members of the Council of Ministers are ministers in each national government. The European Parliament is the most democratic, including 732 members (MEPs) directly elected by EU citzens, with between 5 and 99 seats reserved for each country in the EU. In the last election more than 155 million voters out of 350 million took part – one of the largest elections ever.

There are three main legislative procedures – codecision, assent and consultation. Most EU laws fall under codecision, where Parliament and the Council of Ministers must agree to an identical text of the law. Assent requires a majority of Parliament, but Parliament cannot amend the law. For areas considered the most important, including the Common Agricultural Policy, Parliament can be consulted, but has no real power. The details of these procedures, worked out over several treaties, are complex, even labyrinthine.

In addition to the three main insitutions, the European Council or EU summit consists of the heads of state or government for each member state. While it does not have legal powers, it sets the direction of the EU and is a forum for intergovernmental negotiations.

The other two main institutions are the European Court of Justice, which hears disputes over EU law between member states and EU institutions, and the Court of Auditors, which audits the EU budget. Financial bodies include the European Central Bank and the European Investment Bank. Advisory committees include Committee of the Regions, Economic and Social Committee, Political and Security Committee. Also, the Ombudsman investigates complaints against any EU institution.

Agencies are secondary bodies set up for specific purposes, including agencies for transnational and economic issues such as the environment, external borders, drugs, diseases, and police cooperation.

The European Union is one of the largest and most complex organizations to ever exist. It is multi-faceted, partially intergovernmental, partially supranational. As Christiansen wrote, “the EU is increasingly seen as a system of multilevel governance, involving a plurality of actors on different territorial levels: supranational, national and subnational”. According to Everts and Keohane, “For most European… the EU remains a baffling and distant organisation. Even Brussels insiders find it hard to explain how the EU works and who is responsible for what”.


The first iteration of the European Union was the European Coal and Steel Community, which coordinated coal and steel production in the initial six member states. Early European federalists thought that economic integration would be a politically acceptable first step that would result in later political integration – an idea similar to the later theory of functionalism. Economic integration has been the most successful aspect of the EU, but the EU also controls agricultural , fisheries and environmental policy, and regulates or influences several other areas. The EU is also attempting to develop a Common Foreign and Security Policy.

Economic integration has included development of a customs union, guarantees of internal freedom of movement for EU citizens and capital, anti-monopoly laws, removal of trade barriers, harmonisation of regulations, indirect taxation with the goal of creating a single market. Notably, most of the EU member states have adopted a common currency, the Euro, giving up control of monetary policy to the EU.
The Common Agricultural Policy is a politically significant part of the EU due to the political influence of the farming lobby in some member states. The CAP subsidies form the largest part of the EU budget. It is essentially a protectionist plan aimed at shielding European farmers from global competition, for the reasons of preserving emergency food supplies and sustaining a traditional way of life for rural people.

Foreign policy cooperation has been included in EU law since the 1985 Single European Act. Progress on defense and security policy has been slow, but an independent military unit, the European Rapid Reaction Force, was formed in 1999. While NATO continues to be responsible for Europe’s defense, the EU has recently taken over some peacekeeping missions, particularly in Macedonia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The future

The EU faces an uncertain future, with the threat of Russian energy diplomacy, Islamic terrorism, Middle East instability and illegal immigration. Then there’s the hassle about Turkey’s potential accession, with problems relating to Cyprus, Armenian genocide-denial laws and so on (read: European worries about Islam). And they have ridiculously complex and laughably inefficient procedures, can’t decide whether to have 27 completely different states decide everything by consensus or by majority vote, and of course they have trouble putting together the most basic, coherent foreign policy. Not to mention the death of the proposed EU constitution, and growing Euro-skepticism among libertarian, nationalist, xenophobic and economic-protectionist European voters.

But let’s not dwell too much on the negative. Is the EU, overall, a force for good in the world? Sure. Apart from the outrageous farm subsidies, that is. You can blame Brussels for increased regulation in Western Europe, but the EU has offered a framework for the peaceful breakup of countries in Western Europe, and most of all it has offered incentives – and set strict standards – for the opening of economies and the improvement of governance in Eastern Europe. I hope the process continues in the former Yugoslavia, too. And the accession of Turkey might just be the best possible outcome for relations between Europe and the Muslim world.

You can generalize from the success of the EU to the success of transnational organizations generally. As I’ve written before, integration and fragmentation (“fragmegration” according to Rosenau) are two of the most important trends in the world today. But increasingly, in my opinion, fragmentation is more important than integration. Integration seems to happen out of necessity, as in the birth of the EU 50 years ago, and in many of the more mundane parts of the EU and UN which affect our daily lives. But at the moment, and especially looking at the EU, it seems that there is ever more dividing than uniting us. The EU has had its day, in my opinion. It might get bigger, but it will not become more united.

2 Responses to “50 years of the European Union”

Congratylations. Ypur text is a veru good and plain explanation about what the EU is and will be useful for many people that often have a noy very good idea of this fantastic apolitical and economical achievement in Europe.


The truth about Macedonia…

• Simple answers to frequently used Slavic arguments
In this section we will attempt to answer a series of arguments used frequently to question the Greek identity of Macedonia.

“Greece officially denied the use of the name Macedonia after the Balkan wars.”
This is a very inaccurate argument. There are several examples of state institutions and private businesses using the name Macedonia which operate in Greece since the early 1900s. These are just a few of them:

The “Macedonia” newspaper (1912)
The Society for Macedonian Studies (1939) [web site]
The museum of ancient Macedonia (1961) [web site]
The museum of the Macedonian struggle (1979) [web site]
Greece has been actively using the name Macedonia since its liberation from the Ottoman empire. If Greece’s official position was to “deny the existence of Macedonia” how would it be possible for hundreds of private companies to be named after Macedonia?

“Greece has changed the “Macedonian” names of locations in the Macedonia region.”
The Greek names are older than the Slavic ones and most of them have their roots in ancient Greece. The Greek names of the towns in Macedonia are also mentioned in the Bible. A characteristic example is Thessaloniki. This city was founded in 315 bc by the Macedonian king Kasssandros and it was named after Alexanders’ half sister – Thessaloniki. How could the Greeks change the name from Solun (as the Slavs claim) to Thessaloniki in 1912 if that was the original name? The name Thessaloniki is even mentioned in the bible by St Paul. Why did he address his letters (epistoles) to the people of Thessaloniki and not the to the people of Solun?
What about the Greek names of towns inside FYROM used during the Ottoman times? Did Greece change them as well?

“Today’s ‘Greeks’ and ancient ‘Hellenes have no relation between them.”
How is it possible for the people who live in the same region, speak the same language and have the same names and culture not to be descendants of the ancient inhabitants of the region? Similarly we could say that today’s Egyptians are not descendants of ancient Egyptians and today’s Chinese people are not descedants of ancient Chinese.
The name ‘Greek’ is in fact ancient as well as the famous philosopher Aristotelis verifies:
“…and she was not there forever, but after the cataclysm of Defkalion, which occurred in the Hellenic area, in fact, in the ancient Hellas, which was around Dodoni, and it changed many times the flow of Acheloos river. In that area live the Selloi and the ones that were once called Graecoi and are now called Hellenes…” [Aristotelis Meteorologika, I, 14]

“There is a large Macedonian minority in Greece”
There is no “Macedonian minority” in Greece because there is no such nationality. There is a small group of people who speak a Slavic dialect which is in fact different from what is claimed to be the “Macedonian language” These people are not a “Macedonian minority” as they consider themselves Greeks. There is also an even smaller group of Slav propagandists who are trying to create a Macedonian minority in Greece. Anyone who didn’t consider him/herself Greek could and should have left Greece during the exchange of populations in 1919.

“One million people in Greece consider themselves Macedonians”
In the 1996 parliament elections in Greece the political party of the people who claim to be a “Macedonian minority” gained 3.485 votes (official result). In the 2000 parliament elections they didn’t take up part at all. Of course there is no doubt of the integrity of the election procedures since Greece is a member of the European Union. If there was such a large number of “Macedonians” in Greece (1/10th) wouldn’t be easy for them to stand up against the “Greek occupation”?

“Greece acquired illegally Aegean Macedonia in 1913″
Greece acquired 51% of Macedonia in 1913 as a result of the treaty of Bucharest. International treaties are not illegal. Furthermore Greece in 1913 was not a powerful country to acquire any land it desired. This land was “given” to Greece because it historically belonged to Greece and its residents were Greek.

“What gives Greece the right to name another country? This issue is straightforward, every country has the right to call itself whatever it wishes.”
This is a misleading statement. The author knows very well why Greece is objecting to the use of the name Macedonia. In fact every country has the right to chose its own name as far as it does not belong to another country’s history. The name Macedonia belongs to the Greek history. Greece has the right to protect its history and heritage.

“Saints Cyril and Methdje (or Kirl and Metodi) were not Greeks but Macedonians.”
Saints Cyrilos and Methodios were Greeks born in Thessaloniki and this is well known to all Christians. Pope John Paul the B’ in an official apostolic homily to the entire Catholic Church proclaimed that Methodius and Cyril “Greek brethren born in Thessaloniki” are consecrated as “heavenly protectors of Europe”. John Paul B’ repeated this statement in a speech delivered in the church of Saint Clements, in Rome. You can see the original document here.

“Greece stole the Macedonian history”
Greece does not ‘steal’ history. It has its own lengthy and respected history. It is the only thing that Greece has plenty of it. The Greek history and culture is respected by all the countries in the world. People who don’t have their own history need to ‘steal’ someone else’s…

“Linguistic science has at its disposal a very limited quantity of Macedonian words. A very limited quantity in this case is a quantity indeed, that Greeks cannot ignore.”
This argument proves the Greek point that the “Macedonian language” was a Greek a dialect. There only exists “a limited quantity of Macedonian words” because the Macedonian dialect had “limited” differences from the Greek language.
How could it be possible for a separate “ancient Macedonian language” to disappeared after what Alexander had achieved?

“If Philip united and not conquered the Greeks why did Alexander leave 25.000 men of his army in Macedonia when he is about to face the strongest and most numerous army in the world?”
No sensible leader would go on a quest taking ALL his army with him and leaving his homeland unprotected!
And of course he did not leave 25.000 men in Macedonia because he was afraid of the other Greeks. Macedonia had lots of real enemies at its northern border (Illyrians, Dardanians,Paionians etc).

“If Macedonians were Greek then why only 30% of Alexander’s army were Greek?”
The right question to ask is ‘why as many as 30% of Alexander’s army were from the rest of Greece?’ After all Macedonians and Greeks were supposed to be enemies! The Macedonians ‘conquered’ the Greeks according to the Slavic version of the Macedonian history. The fact that a very significant part of Alexander’s army were non-Macedonian Greeks shows the truth.

“Ancient Macedonians did not take part in the Olympic Games”
This is another false statement. It can be easily proved that people from Macedonia took part in the Olympic Games. For a list Macedonians who won the Olympic Games the click here.

“Ancient Macedonians fought against Greece.”
This is another misleading statement. It is well known that the ancient Greek states were largely independed of each other and that often led to wars between them. Some well-known examples are the Peolloponisian was between Athens and Sparti, the Athenians quest in the island of Mitilini, the brutal war between Sparti and Thebes and many more. A war between two ancient Greek regions did not mean that one of them was not Greek.

“There are no ancient monuments written in the Macedonian language because Greek archaeologists destroy them when they are recovered.”
Even if we accept that this is true it still doesn’t explain why aren’t there any monuments in the rest of Macedonia!
What about the ancient monuments in FYROM and Bulgaria?
What about the ancient monuments on Alexander’s route in Asia?
Why aren’t there any “non Greek Macedonian monuments” ?
Oh, I know why! The Greek archaeologists must have destroyed them as well !!!

“If in fact, “Macedonia is Greece”, how come they feel the need to emphasize, to shout, and to proclaim over and over again? After all, we never hear them proclaiming that ‘Thebes is Greece’, or ‘Sparta is Greece’ “.
If the Salvs wanted to name heir country “Republic of Thebes” or “Republic of Sparta” who would shout out “Thebes and Sparta are Greek”. But they are claiming to be Macedonians so we shout that

If you have an argument which is not answered in this page please email us. © Real Macedonia 2001


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