Pros and Cons of the European Union

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When the six countries signed the Treaty of Rome in 1958, it was solely an economic union, known as the European Economic Community (EEC). Over the years, other European countries joined and in 1993, its name was changed to the European Union (EU), with 28 member states. From merely having an economic objective, EU is now an economic and political partnership among these European countries and has expanded its policies to the environment and development aid.

However, despite the good intentions of the EU, its existence is still with contentions. With rumors of the United Kingdom, which joined in 1973, is leaving the EU zone, opinions from supporters and critics continue to surface.

List of the Pros of the European Union

1. Strong Economic Ties.
Proponents of the EU claim that since more and more countries have signed up to join the union, member states opened their doors to free trade, thus, expanding their markets and increasing their GNPs. Moreover, tariffs between these countries are reduced. These practices are important to strengthening the economic relationships among the 28 member countries.

2. Free Movement.
With the signing of treaties, citizens of member countries can move freely to and from other countries in the EU. This means citizens can work, live and study in these countries and be able to share their skills and knowledge as well.

3. Global Environmental Governance.
With the EU aiming to mitigate the effects of climate change and the large number of member countries having the same goals, saving the environment on a global scale. The EU also has moved to protect the habitat and species in Europe which can motivate and inspire other countries in the world to do the same.

List of the Cons of the European Union

1. Not Free Trade but Customs Union.
Critics of the EU contend that this partnership among member states offer internal free trade but it is not without external taxes or tariffs. By doing so, a member country gives up its own trading and tariff policies and signs a treaty with the rest of the members. In effect, even if a country trades with another non member country, it cannot do so without the EU negotiating on its behalf.

2. Loss of Autonomy.
Opponents for the EU posit that since member countries signed treaties, they are bound by the rules of the European Union. This can prove to be a disadvantage because they have to be dictated by these rules instead of making major decisions on their own. They also lose their control over their products and commodities when it comes to selling and manufacturing. Moreover, leaving the EU is not as easy. Once you have joined, it will be difficult to leave without conflicts.

3. Control Over Member Countries.
Groups who are not happy about the EU say that the European Commission, which is the executive body, will serve the interest of the EU and not its member countries. If a certain member state is in conflict, the EU will step in to the point of overthrowing the incumbent leader, just like in the case of Greece, where it had to give up its fiscal sovereignty during the Greek crisis because the European leaders gave an ultimatum. In order to be spared from financial collapse, Greece had to accept the austerity measures drafted by the EU. It cannot be denied that the European Union has its pros and cons. What is important is that its advantages outweigh its disadvantages.