European Union

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In May 2004, 10 new countries will join the European Union. These new countries will be Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Many European citizens already believe that their national identity is being lost within the European Union, and this enlargement puts it at risk once again. The European Union has already had many successful enlargements such as the United Kingdom in 1973 and also Greece in 1981 and most recently Sweden in 1995. So therefore there should not be any problems with expansion again.

However the expansion under consideration today is different then before. It is unique because the area would increase by 34% and also the population would increase by 105 million that will also involve the membership of different cultures and histories. Eastern Europe and the Balkans would benefit significantly by the enlargement because of the single set of trade rules, a single tariff, and a single set of administrative procedures. The European union’s website advertises that, “Enlargement of the European Union will be a historic achievement, ending centuries of division.

Europe reunited means a stronger, democratic and more stable continent able to gain full advantage from an Internal Market of 500 million people. ” (europa. eu. int/pol/enlarg/overview_en. htm accessed 17/12/03) History shows a different picture. Nationalism becomes more and more outdated. People have more contacts than ever with others of foreign regions either by modern means of communication or physically by the liberal legislation concerning the movement between states.

Europe is in a process of growing together, the European Union is striving to bring a united Europe and many representatives of the EU believe that people will learn to be European’s. Those who fear the loss of national identitiy are able to see the power that the EU holds over it’s nation states. Foucalt believes that, “Where there is power, there is resistance” (Foucault, in Storey, 1998, Pg 97). Power is a two-way relationship yet one side of the relationship is the dominant and the other the inferior.

Within the European Union, the EU will always be in hold of the power, leaving the nation states as the inferior. Foucault’s belief is that it is only natural for the power of the EU to be resisted. Citizen’s of the member states see the loss as culture and heritage as a result of the EU’s power over them, and are resisting against it. For those who are ‘anti-EU’, the European union is seen as being inherently violent: enlargement intrinsically undermines cultural heritage, democracy, ecological health, economic well being, and social cohesion.

Many see the expansion of the European Union as globalisation. Globalisation is the process of goods and services being distributed on a global scale and the decreasing importance of the nation state and its boundaries. It is as a result of this, other nation states are able to have increasing influence over each other, in a process described as multinationalism. In its most contemporary and widely perceived form, globalisation is often considered to be the increasing interconnectedness of people and societies across the world, and the coming of a ‘global village’.

The term global village suggests oneness, a shared community, language, culture and currency. In effect it is what the EU is striving for: unity and strength found in uniting with one’s neighbours. As the example of the European Union shows, it is not just the world economy that is now subject to globalisation, but also virtually all issues with which the traditional nation state has been concerned. It is perhaps as a result of increased world trade that culture is becoming ‘global’, with trends in the worlds of entertainment, fashion and leisure extending as far as from the USA to Russia, Australia and Japan.

The many different languages of the European Union makes communication difficult and widens the gap between regions. With 12 members there are 9 official languages in normal use; however if there are 30 members then there could be up to 25 languages in use. “Language continues to be seen as an important element of national identity; it is accorded such political and social importance that the participants in the EU are willing to devote enormous resources to ensure the national languages are not displaced by English and French. (Sanguin, 1998, pg 49)

Official working languages of the EU are mostly English and French but Sanguin states that public settings are often in national languages. This has resulted in 40% of administrative budget in language services and half of EU employees working in this sector. This is just one example of how the European union are striving to keep the nations states language and uniqueness while still being members. Hoffman believes that those who try to protect national identities are a threat to world peace.

In the nuclear age, the fragmentation of the world into countless units, each of which has a claim to independence, is obviously dangerous for world peace and illogical for welfare. ” (Hoffman, 1998, pg. 158) Hoffman goes on to say that an enlarged and unified European Union will bring only peace if that is what the nation states allow. Of course both sides have important arguments. Despite all pan European affords made the Europeans don’t consider themselves Europeans, but Frenchmen or Germans or English. Nationalism and patriotism is an undeniable fact.

People are raised and socialized in there own mother tongue and culture. There is no such thing as an all-European culture. People don’t consider a government which has to represent not only different people but different peoples to be capable of solving their inner problems. “While the apparently growing strength of regional political and economic institutions scuh as the European Union, in the latter part of the 20th century, might appear to suggest a decline in the role of nation states, to the benefit of both local and supernational political entities, it is by no means clear that such ‘hollowing out’ is occuring”. Unwin, 1998, pg336) The claim that the European Union is eroding domestic culture is one of sceptic’s.

Globalisation has long been making nationalism out of fashion, and creating a global market. This process has gone too far to stop now as places and distences become of fadeing importance and the non-place, and cyber space becomes an important part of modern culture. The European Union’s enlargment is just one example of how globalisation is taking place across the globe, bringing together nations; reuniting neighbours once at war.

Of course globalisation does not signal the end of other social spaces. The rise of the global village does not eliminate the significance of localities, countries, and regions. Nor does the spread of trans-world connections abolish territorial governments or dissolve territorial identities. The global coexists and interrelates with the local, the national, the regional, and other dimensions of geography.

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