Uniting Europe: an introduction to the European Union
With the 2004 enlargement, the European Union (EU) has expanded to twenty-five member states and a total population of 450 million. The new Union faces a daunting policy agenda that includes finalizing the controversial European Constitution, managing further enlargement to countries in southeastern Europe, deciding whether to offer membership to Turkey, overcoming strains over trade, environmental issues, and policy toward the Middle East to build a new, post Cold War relationship with the United States, and making sure that the enlargement itself is a success. In this timely and accessible text, John Van Oudenaren explores how a political and economic union this large and diverse can hold together and accomplish the policy tasks that matter to its citizens: sustaining economic growth, dealing with aging populations and the costs of pensions and health care, raising living standards in poorer regions, preserving the environment, coping with the problems of immigration and political instability on Europe's borders, and facing the challenges of globalization. To reach these goals, the author argues that the EU must build on its existing achievements: the single market, the common currency, and harmonized policies. At the same time, the Union must reform its decision-making processes and find ways to balance the needs of its member states and the competing demands of different interest groups. How the EU will evolve is still unclear; there is no precise blueprint for its future. But the historic attempt to unite Europe will have enormous implications not only for Europe itself, but for the United States as a key ally, trading partner, and, on occasion, rival. By providing an overview of the Union's institutions, laws, and policies, Van Oudenaren provides a solid foundation for understanding its history and emergence as a global economic and political power.
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