'European Integration since 1945 has contributed to saving rather than undermining the European nation state' - A discussion
Essay 2005 10 Pages
European Integration since 1945 has contributed to saving rather than undermining the European nation state. Discuss.
European integration has been undergoing a special development recently. 2005 has been a decisive year for the future of the European Union and its member states. The draft of the Constitutional Treaty due to be ratified by the European member states has not been accepted by the Dutch and the French people. What impact do those decisions have on the European nation state? Do they state that European integration has saved the nation state implying that there will be no future federal European state? In what way has European integration undermined the nation state since 1945?
The nation state can be defined as “a specific form of state, which exists to provide a sovereign territory for a particular nation, and derives its legitimacy from that function. In the ideal model of the nation-state, the population consists of the nation and only of the nation: the state not only houses it, but protects it and its national identity” (website 1).
After World War II most European nation states were in a disastrous situation as far as their national identity, the economic and political situation were concerned. Economically the nation states suffered from the world’s recession, inflation and unemployment. The situation was so insecure that Rose (1996, p. 42) draws an analogy to Weimar Germany where the uncertain political circumstances (lack of belief in democracy) triggered World War II.
In 1945 the continent was split into two antagonist political, socio-economic and military blocks which led to the period of Cold War (1949-1981/91). The Western countries founded NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) in 1948 as an antagonist to the communist countries which aligned to the Warsaw Pact in 1955. At the same time an end of the European nation states’ power over their colonies could be observed. Another trend was the beginning of a first European movement (see website 2). Priority after the Second World War was given to the “creation of a viable frame work for international trade and finance” (Gillingham 2003, p. 73). For the same reason the treaty of the ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community) was signed in 1951, to make sure that the European nation states profit as much as possible from coal and steel production which was one of the most important branches and put large parts of the unemployed post-war population back to work. Although the ECSC was founded for economic reasons it later became a basic element of the EEC (European Economic Community).
A bigger step towards European integration was the union of ECSC and EURATOM (European Atomic Energy Community) to the EEC by signing the Treaty of Rome in 1957. A new body of European constitutional law with the power to override national courts was created. Symbolically the signing nation states transferred part of their sovereignty to the EEC. Only a few years after World War II the opposing nation states became equal partners and founded their own economic community. That the community did not only focus on economic matters but dealt increasingly with political and other affairs were proven when media and literature got rid of the adjective “economic” during the 1970s and the EEC linguistically became the EC (European Community). The 1950s and 1960s turned out to be decades of economic growth all over Europe. Therefore it was easier for the nation states to think in terms of European Community and to push the integration process forward instead of concentrating on national matters only.