Introduction to European Union law
Introduction to European Union law

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Introduction to European Union law

3.2 The expansion – changing perspectives and goals

A feature of the move to European cooperation in the 1950s was that, although the rhetoric of the founding fathers stressed the imperative for trust and commitment, some of the member states involved lacked it. France remained cautious of Germany and was not enthusiastic about extending cooperation too far. The UK was reluctant to participate primarily because it remained distrustful of political cooperation with France. This stance would see the UK remain outside the EU until it joined in 1973. Over the intervening years, the union has expanded with successive accessions, each bringing a cluster of new member states.

Different perspectives

Watch the following video clips.

  • We must look to the future
  • Vladimir Drobnjak on Croatia entering the EU
  • A history of Britain's love-hate relationship with Europe
  • Session on the rationale for the European Union (Note: this link takes you to the full lecture - if you are short on time listen from 10:12 to 41:36 minutes).
Download this video clip.Video player: We must look to the future
Skip transcript: We must look to the future

Transcript: We must look to the future

WINSTON CHURCHILL
We must all turn our backs upon the horrors of the past. We must look to the future. We must build a kind of United States of Europe.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
[MUSIC PLAYING]
[MUSIC PLAYING]
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN
Warmly welcome to our family. Our new Europe is born.
[CHEERING]
[FIREWORKS POPPING]
[MUSIC PLAYING]
[FIREWORKS POPPING]
[EXPLOSIONS]
[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]
[MUSIC PLAYING]
GEORGE PAPANDREOU
We have today been able to give a very clear message to the Western Balkans. They will become part of our family.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
[MUSIC PLAYING]
[MUSIC PLAYING]
End transcript: We must look to the future
We must look to the future
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Download this video clip.Video player: Vladimir Drobnjak on Croatia entering the EU
Skip transcript: Vladimir Drobnjak on Croatia entering the EU

Transcript: Vladimir Drobnjak on Croatia entering the EU

VLADIMIR DROBNJAK
Croatia is the first country entering European Union after accession process that differs in many ways from the previous rounds of enlargement. Croatia is the first country after Greece, in the early '80s, who are entering the European Union alone. The first country who negotiated 35 negotiating chapters, including chapter 23-- judiciary and fundamental rights.
And Croatia, if you will, is the first postconflict country, if you don't take into account the founding members in early days of the Union, that is joining European Union. Also, Croatia is the first that negotiated through a very elaborated scheme of opening and closing benchmarks: 137 in total. And one could summarise Croatia's accession negotiations as elaborated preaccession monitoring. Croatia will join European Union on 1 July, 2013, after six years of hard negotiations, thus becoming 28th member state.
End transcript: Vladimir Drobnjak on Croatia entering the EU
Vladimir Drobnjak on Croatia entering the EU
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Download this video clip.Video player: A history of Britain's love-hate relationship with Europe
Skip transcript: A history of Britain's love-hate relationship with Europe

Transcript: A history of Britain's love-hate relationship with Europe

NARRATOR
A history of Britain's love–hate relationship with Europe. If this were Facebook, Britain's relationship status with the EU would be: "it's complicated". Sometime soon, though, the British people will get the chance to either break up with the EU for good or stay together.
So what's their relationship history? Well, much of it can be explained by geography. Being an island nation gave Britain the settled borders its European neighbours long lacked, and within those borders, powerful institutions such as the monarchy, Parliament, and the church grew strong, providing Britain with a stability unmatched in other European countries. That's why when European countries signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957, Britain decided it was better off staying single.
So the UK joined the European Economic Community, as it then was, in 1973, late and reluctantly, and only in the light of imperial and economic decline, and after attempts by France to stop it. Britons have already had the opportunity to vote on membership. In 1975, they decided overwhelmingly to stay in the relationship.
But as always happens, people, or in this case, international organisations, change. Over the years, Europe transformed from an intimate free-trade area of nine countries to a political union of 28. The UK remains a reluctant member of the EU, with its citizens the least likely to identify themselves as European, and deeply worried about a mass movement of people that has seen net migrations in the UK from within the EU top one and a half million since 1997.
But none of this is to say most people in Britain are unfriendly or are itching to leave, or even that they care all that much. So will the EU and Britain still be friends, or will they block each other? We'll find out very soon.
End transcript: A history of Britain's love-hate relationship with Europe
A history of Britain's love-hate relationship with Europe
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To watch the last of these video clips please follow this link: ‘Session on the Law of the European Union’. [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] This 90 minute discussion is additional to the material in this OpenLearn course. Do not feel you need to watch it in one sitting at a particular time when studying this course.

This selection of video extracts contains themes which indicate changing reasons for joining, which differ between acceding member states. Clearly, the driving force for the UK and Ireland was the prospect of access to a large market for exports. For the Eastern European member states, in addition to access to the market, they gained the comfort of a strong alliance against the ambitions of Russia. For the Balkan states, other nuanced reasons emerge. Accordingly, you may conclude that each new member state does not necessarily share the same vision of the EU or reasons for joining the EU as its founding member states. Equally, each member state does not hold the same vision for the future of the EU. Current tensions on sovereignty are evidenced by the failure of the Treaty of Nice amending the Treaty on European Union, the Treaties establishing the European Communities and certain related acts (Treaty of Nice), which was rejected by referenda in some member states at the time.

This leads us to a series of questions, we are continuously engaging with whenever we aim to fully grasp and reflect on the European Union as a whole:

  • Is the EU a failed project? Has it stopped European wars? Is wealth being shared and distributed fairly or is it polarising between north and south, and rich and poor?
  • How have the founding ideals developed and why have we ended up with something quite different?
  • Why is it still important to have those ideals especially as some may argue that Europe as a project failed in some of its ideals in that:
    • it did not stop wars – see what happened in Bosnia or what is continuing to happen in the Crimea and South Georgia
    • there is an increasing polarisation of wealth, but there is also a commensurate improvement in the economic well-being and improved living conditions for all EU citizens.
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