The European Union is living proof that transnational cooperation and the creation of supranational political and legal institutions can be successful. Throughout the decades of its evolution, the European Union brought the underlying ideas of peace, prosperity and internal market to an unprecedented level of political and economic integration. Its model is bound to inspire other regional integration projects and urge them to implement best European practices.
The success of the European integration project is often associated with the initial push for cooperation after the World War II. The intensification of trade relations was necessary to restore the post-war Europe. However, the major drive came from the search for assuring a lasting peace and security on the continent. The phrase plus jamais de guerre – no more war – became the departure point for building a new integrated and prosperous Europe. That endeavor has been successful on a very large scale – not only the economies of individual countries have grown due to membership in the European Union and its preceding models (e.g. the European Communities), but the principle of no more war has actually been fully realized as no single military conflict has taken in the European Union since it came into existence and till now. It seems that integration has removed the risk of future conflict between unequal economies and military powers within the EU. This success provides a precedent that economic integration is key to peace and security. In turn, it attracts countries in other regions to embrace economic cooperation models inspired by the European success. (Eilstrup-Sangiovanni & Verdier, 2005)
Peace leads to stability, and stability enables prosperity. It is, thus, no wonder that the economic success of the EU is also attractive worldwide. By and large, the European model is built on the belief that tearing down barriers to the free circulation of goods and services is the road to prosperity. EU institutions have built a complex legal framework that allows to protect and sustain the free movement of persons, goods, services, and capital within the Union. The area of free circulation covers the entirety of the European Union and even extends to some non-EU members (e.g. Norway and Switzerland) and together comprises the so-called internal market. The building of this model required the liberalization of fiscal policies, deregulation, and harmonization of European legislation. As a result, the European Union has become the largest economy in the world that includes countries with the highest standards of living. Through the action of EU institutions, underdeveloped regions have received help in build new infrastructure, attracting investment and achieving prosperity. The economic success of European integration that has translated into the tangible prosperity of individuals and companies is undeniably inspiring to other integration projects that want to follow the example of deep and comprehensive supranational structure that works well for prosperity.
Finally, the European Union presents some unique examples of developing effective common policy in areas that were not even tested by other international organizations, for example, the competition law, the common foreign policy and the monetary union. It is the last example that is especially outstanding in the economic sense. Based on the belief that national governments cannot effectively respond to challenges of monetary policy, the European Union embraced the ambitious agenda of common monetary policy, including euro as the common European currency. (Frieden, 2002) With the exception of a few member states, which chose not to participate, the monetary union has largely been achieved in the EU. The fixed exchange rates in the hands of European central bank had a meaningful effect on facilitating intra-European trade and investment. EU monetary policy also remains the unique example of supranational success in this area and an inspiration to other regional projects. (McNamara, 1999)
All things considered, the EU has emerged as the most successful model of political and economic integration. Its achievements in peace and security, economic prosperity, and beneficial common policies continue to inspire and serve as examples to other aspirants of regional integration.
- Eilstrup-Sangiovanni, M., & Verdier, D. (2005). European integration as a solution to war. European Journal of International Relations, 11(1), 99-135.
- Frieden, J. A. (2002). Real sources of European currency policy: Sectoral interests and European monetary integration. International Organization, 56(04), 831-860.
- McNamara, K. R. (1999). Consensus and constraint: ideas and capital mobility in European monetary integration. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, 37(3), 455-476.