S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Happy Anniversary to the European Union

50th Anniversary -I was a young bride when the Treaty of Rome (1957) established the EEC, the European Economic Community. France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux communities came together to establish a common market, customs union and common policies. It was the forerunner of what is now the European Union.

Over the years, 9 amendment treaties and five treaties of accession make the EU what it is today. In 1972 the United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland joined original group of countries, along with Greece in 1979. Spain and Portugal came in 1985. Austria, Finland and Sweden joined in 1994, bringing the total to 15 Member States. In 2003 the Community grew to 25, with the accession of Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia. Reference: European Union - Delegation of the European Commission to the USA.
Current News - Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU on January 1, 2007. Slovenia has adopted the Euro, the EU currency. Irish became the 23rd official language in the EU in 2007. On Friday, the European Union again condemned the death penalty as Iraq looks to execute Saddam Hussein's two co-defendents. EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso (of Protugal) will be in Washington On January 8 to meet with President Bush.
Also on January 1, Germany took over the EU presidency. Chancellor Angela Merkek met with President Bush on Thursday. Europa has the story of the German EU Presidency. To quote,
The European constitution will be high on the agenda of the incoming German EU presidency. Other priorities include growth and jobs, improving freedom, security, justice and stability for all Europeans, and tackling climate change.
Under the motto "Europe – succeeding together", Germany took over the EU presidency on 1 January. This rotating six‑month position gives each member country the power to advance certain issues on the EU agenda. Over the course of its tenure, one of the German priorities will be the future of Europe
Other Questions - From the Daily Mail in London, Christopher Booker asks, "What if Britain HADN'T joined the EU?" His article begins,
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which launched what was eventually to become the European Union. Whatever our European partners may get up to in commemorating this historic moment, in two months time, it is safe to predict that celebrations here in Britain will be pretty muted. It is unlikely that cheering crowds will be turning out to watch fireworks exploding over the Thames.
Although all our major political parties are totally wedded to our membership of this vast political project, the EU's own polls have consistently shown that the people of Britain are less happy to be part of it than those of any other country in Europe.
2007 - And Kirsty Hughes, writing for BBC News, asks a more important question. To quote from her opening and closing paragraphs:
Can Europe move forward in 2007?Now that the parties celebrating the accession of two new countries to the European Union are over, the EU finds itself once again staring at an uncertain future.
The bloc, now of 27 countries, is still in a state of disarray 18 months after French and Dutch voters issued their clear "No" to the Union's draft constitution.
And the constitutional impasse has contributed to a growing "enlargement fatigue" not only over Turkey - whose membership talks are now partially suspended - but also over the various western Balkan states queuing up to join.
. . . At the earliest, a new constitution might be agreed and ratified by 2009 and such a new deal might release enough energy to reduce enlargement fatigue and lessen the dividing lines over whether or not to build a Fortress Europe.
But the odds are not high for seeing a re-energised, newly confident and dynamic EU in 2007.
Will Turkey be invited to join the EU? The final question in this post is one that looms over both Europe the Middle East. Geoffrey Wheatcroft writes in Guardian Unlimited that it will not happen. To quote,
Despite the chorus of pious hope, Turkey is not going to join the EU. There will be no place at the table for Ankara in any foreseeable future, and the most profound reason is geographical.
. . . In the end, the problem is less cultural or economic or religious than simply geographical. This is something we have only slowly woken up to, but it explains why Turkey will not join for a very long time, if ever. Bildt says, solemnly and dubiously, that "there is no doubt that Turkey is a part of Europe", but a French politician has put it another way: can we really have a Europe that extends to the borders of Iraq? Many ordinary Europeans seem to know the answer to that better than their rulers.
Fifty years ago, World War II was not a distant memory as it is today. Our recent allies were Turkey and Russia. Germany, Italy and Japan were recent mortal enemies. But very soon the United States and the Soviet Union were locked into a Cold War that would last for decades.
The world is a much smaller place fifty years later. Today there is no Soviet Union; there is an expanding European Union. And residents of Bulgaria and Romania, who sat under the thumb of the Soviet Union 50 years ago, are now celebrating joining the EU. Russia remains outside; tensions over Russia's energy dominance in Europe is a concern to the new EU presidency of Germany. And discussions about energy policy were on the agenda as the presidents of Germany and the USA met just a few days ago.
The world has shrunk to a village of elbow-jostling neighbors, competing for shrinking resources, and bullying each other. The US and EU live right next door to each other.
Previous EU posts search on South by Southwest.

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