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Eu politics, Europeanisation

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Europe can be seen and studied through the examination of particular countries or indeed as a mode of movements, ideals and ideas.  The European Union is a civilization which has distinctive traits in the social and political areas.  Individually, all of the EU members have their own history, their own customs, traditions and norms.  The EU encompasses all of these differences and has weaved them together to create a kind of civilization that differs dramatically from any other recognized civilization.  European Union civilization tends to be in the most part expansive and dynamic.  Of course the EU cannot be described in terms of being a state as it lacks the fundamental aspects which are attributed to states.  For instance it lacks a recognised army and a police force, but what it lacks in some areas it more than makes up for in its economic prowess.  With the largest economy in the World, the EU is well placed for further expansion, or further europeanisation.  This has been the key word in recent years.  Throughout this essay one shall be trying to assess and give examples of what europeanisation is.  In addition to this, one shall be assessing what, if anything this can tell us about the transformation of Europe.  Firstly, one must have an idea of the definition of europeanisation.  This topic is hard to define as it is such a broad set of circumstances, however one would argue that the main definitions of europeanisation are as follows.  It can be described as a process in which a typically non European subject, be it a nation or culture adopting a number of European features such as a common language or a common currency.  A further way in which it can be defined is as the growth of a European identity over and above that of ones own national identity.  Lastly, this phenomenon can be described as a process by which EU political and economic areas become part of national politics.  One shall be using the example of the adoption of the Human Rights Act of 1998 to highlight this fact.  One shall be firstly assessing the definition of what europeanisation means on an economic level, moving on to the incorporation of typically European laws into ones own national policy, moving on to discuss the effects of the Maastricht Treaty and emergence of Monetary Union.  One shall also throughout this essay be alluding to whether or not europeanisation can tell us anything about the transformation of Europe.  Let us begin by assessing the argument that EU member states economies are becoming increasingly europeanised.

It has been argued as one has mentioned that the economies of EU member states are becoming hugely europeanised.  One shall be looking at the example of Britain in order to highlight this point.  In the text ‘Developments in British Politics’ Dunleavy, Hefferman, Cowley and Hay pay homage to this view.  The afore mentioned are comparing the level of direct foreign investment in 1998 of developed countries, developing countries and the UK.  From this text one is made aware that for the most part the British case follows the trend for developed economies.  Even though this must be considered to be a plus point Dunleavy and co state that since 2000, inward direct investment levels to the British economy had fallen more than in almost every other developed economy.[1]  On deeper analysis of this evidence it is revealed that the mentioned trend has been for a deglobalisation of the British economy, and as a result Dunleavy and co suggests a shrinking in the size of the manufacturing base for this.  Let us now suggest that it is not globalization that is the key here, but rather europeanisation.  The afore mentioned figures failed to take into account the extent to which international trade and investments that the British economy is involved in are at a regional or global level.  On deeper analysis one may argue that not only the British economy but others have not so much globalised in recent years, but have europeanised.  Dunleavy and co also state in this text that the share of British export trade destined for EU markets has tripled since 1955.[2]  This is clear evidence of europeanisation which one would argue ties nicely into the very definition of europeanisation in the manner that the British economy is becoming less dependent on gaining success in global markets, instead becoming more dependent on gaining a competitive advantage within the EU markets, adhering to ones third definition of europeanisation.  Let us now point our attentions to the second part of this question.  What can this tell us about the transformation of Europe?  One would state at this early stage that it seems, with the example of the British economy that the EU may be transformed in the manner that there seems to be a growing interdependence amongst the economies of EU states.  A further way in which the British government has been reshaped by the hands of europeanisation is by the judicial applicability of EU law.  One is made aware by Dunleavy and co that one of the most important judicial reforms has been the incorporation into law of the Human Rights Act of 1998.[3]  Significantly, there now lays an inherently European aspect to the activities of the British judicial system which again ties in with the definition of europeanisation one has already stated.   This dimension as no doubt everyone is aware has had a strong impact on the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.  One would argue that there may be a slight paradox here.  On the one hand the British government wishes to impose restrictions on migrants and asylum seekers in the name of national interest, however, in the age of europeanisation signs a legally binding document to give the very people they wish to restrict more rights.  This brings one on to the question of what can this tell us about the transformation of Europe.  One would state that it is clear to see that with the adoption of judicial reforms in EU member states that there seems to be an ever closer union on the cards.  Let us now assess the information provided regarding what it can be said europeanisation actually is.  From our first example it is apparent that in some part, europeanisation is the integration of member state economies.  Some would disagree and attribute to that of globalization, however from the information provided it can be said to be of europeanisation.  Now let us take our second point.  Europeanisation in this sense came from the incorporation into the British judicial system of an inherently European act.  Both these examples are very different definitions of what europeanisation is, however as one has previously noted it is such a broad subject area which encompasses many differing views that this is always going to be the case.  So, can europeanisation tell us anything about the transformation of Europe? One would argue that yes it does, paying particular attention to the points that have been made.  Europe seems to be getting transformed due to member states adhering to some form of common aspiration.  One must also state that it is not only Britain who has been placed under the umbrella of europeanisation.  Perhaps a reason for this common goal is shared in Peter James’s text ‘Modern Germany’.  James dates this reason for the economic unification of Europe back to the end of World War Two.  James states that Germany was ‘ruined’ by war and the economies of France and Britain subsequently damaged.[4]  Perhaps this was indeed to be the beginning of europeanisation.

The powers of national parliaments have also been limited by europeanisation.  There has been a shift of policy competencies from the domestic to EU level which limits the powers of national parliaments by reducing their functions so that they are merely incorporating EU directives into national law.  This being said, it must be pointed out that europeanisation can be said to possibly restrict state sovereignty.  Perhaps this may tell us that in the future the EU, while limiting member states sovereignty wishes to be seen as a lone state with its own sovereignty.  This restriction of sovereignty is exercised in many other forms.  In order to understand this concept, one shall be focusing on the euro and Monetary Union, noting Italy and Greece’s painful adaption.  The Maastricht Treaty is key to the concept of europeanisation as a whole.  It encompasses all three of the definitions of europeanisation one has posed and led to the creation of the euro and in turn created what is commonly referred to as the pillar structure of the European Union.[5]  The point of this example is that a dual coalition of bankers and technocrats advocated successfully for a monetarist approach that in turn led to drastic changes in domestic monetary policy.  In order to join the Monetary Union and adopt the euro there are certain convergence criteria to be met.  Inflation rates are to be no more than one point five percentage points higher than the average of the three best performing member states.  A state is to have a budget deficit of less than three percent of GDP.  In addition to this the average long term interest rate must not exceed that of the three member states with the lowest rate.[6]  All of these that have been mentioned are very important whilst answering the question of what europeanisation actually is.  In this case of the euro and monetary union one would state that in this sense europeanisation is the case of the process by which the EU is trying to heighten growth by adhering to a particular set of  convergence criteria in order for enlargement and expansion.

The final aspect one shall be discussing is that of European integration.  In the text ‘The politics of new Europe’ it is immediately made clear that this integration is the process of political, legal and economic integration of states into Europe.[7]  Also in this text, the forms of integration are realized.  In Lehman’s terms the EU operates a single market across the EU territory and the single currency is used between members of the euro zone.  The EU even has economic relationships with nations that are not even part of the union.  A free trade area has been set up which eliminated tariffs on goods among member states.  There is also a customs union which includes all European member states.  Indeed it must be said that it is not only economic integration that is key to the term of europeanisation.  There are also means of social and political integration.  Included in this are the areas of education and health.  Its legitimacy arises from the Charter of Fundamental Rights.  So how can this concept of integration be linked to the definition of europeanisation?   With reference back to ones very opening definitions of this, one stated that europeanisation can be described as a growth of European identity over and above ones own identity.  With the integration and planned expansion of the EU this example bodes well with this definition.  It further encompasses another of ones definitions by which EU political and economic areas become part of national politics.  With reference to the single market, customs union and the euro zone, it is becoming difficult to differentiate between ones own national state and the EU.  So to answer the second part of our question of can europeanisation tell us anything about the transformation of Europe.  In the case of integration it is abundantly clear that europeanisation is the key to transformation.  It provides the EU with political, economic and social legitimacy which is key to further expansion and transformation.

As one has mentioned, the aspect of europeanisation is very broad and difficult to define.  There are areas in which one has not assessed such as the centralization of environmental policy making and those groups who feel that they have lost our because of the single European market.  For the most part however the views on what europeanisation are quite clear.  In ones opinion europeanisation is firstly a process in which a typically non European subject adopts a number of European features.  This can be those such as a common language or a common currency.  Secondly, it can be defined as the growth of a European identity over and above ones own identity.  Thirdly, this can be describes as a process by which EU political and economic areas become part of national politics.  Moving on to the second part of the question.  Europeanisation can indeed tell us something about the transformation of Europe.  As one has agreed that europeanisation encompasses social, political and economic areas, and the EU is a powerful actor in its member states spheres, it is clear that with the continued europeanisation of political institutions Europe will continue to enlarge and transform.


  1. Budge & Newton, The Politics of new Europe- Atlantic to Urals
  2. Dunleavy, Hefferman, Cowley & Hay, Developments in British Politics
  3. James, Peter, Modern Germany, Politics, Society & Culture
  4. Story, Jonathan, The new Europe, Politics, Government and Economy since 1945


  1. Colomer, Josep M,Political institutions in Europe
  2. Knapp and Wright, The government and politics of France

[1]  Dunleavy, Hefferman, Cowley & Hay, Developments in British Politics, Page 265

[2]  Dunleavy, Hefferman, Cowley, Hay, Developments in British Politics, Page 266

[3]  Dunleavy, Hefferman, Cowley, Hay, Developments in British Politics, Page 266

[4]  James, Peter, Modern Germany, Page 199

[5]  Story, J, The new Europe, Politics, Government and economy since 1945, Page 508

[6]  Sakwa and Stevens, Contemporary Europe, Page 202

[7]  Budge and Newton, The Politics of the new Europe, Page 48

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