For over half a century, the European project has promoted political and economic integration. Economically the union represents a leading trading power and a common currency. The original desire of an ‘even closer’ Europe arose from the desire to rebuild and prevent another war after 1945. Also to promote not only peace and security but also economic growth.

It was originally founded on the goal of achieving four freedoms: freedom of movement of persons, goods, services and capital. These four freedoms can also be referred to as free trade area, a customs union, a common market and an economic and monetary union. Free movement of goods is essential to the creating and running of the customs union and the common market.

A free trade area involves the removal of customs duties between member states, however the members of a free trade area decide themselves their external policies and any duties payable by third party countries wishing to export goods to those countries.

A customs union builds on above by creating a common external tariff, presenting a common position to the outside world. The same duties are imposed on goods entering the customs union regardless of where they are imported from. Once imported, the goods circulate freely as union goods throughout the union.

A common market adds to the above, the free movement of the factors of production (goods, persons and capital) and a competition policy.

An economic union would be all of the above plus the creation of a common currency.

The ambitions of the union have extended far beyond the original objectives of a common market for goods and services and now include the aim of developing common foreign and security policies.

The movement towards the integration of European  countries started soon after the 2nd world war. This integration was politically and economically motivated. In 1950, the Schuman plan was devised whereby the raw materials of war (coal and steel) would be placed under the control of a organisation and so the European coal and steel community (ECSC) was created. At the same time, the move towards greater economic co-operation and the creation of a European trading area was underway. The results of these developments took the form of the treaty of Rome, establishing the European economic community (EEC) and the European atomic energy community (Euratom).

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It was the EEC which had the biggest aim, seeking to create a common market and close co-operation between member states. Art 243 vested the community with the power and legal personality to pursue the following economic activities: a common external tariff, provisions for free movement of labour, business and capital, adoption of common agricultural policy, common transport policy and approximation of laws of member states, eliminate inequalities and to promote equality and take into account environmental protection.

In 1992, the treaty on European union was signed which brought into being the European union. This goes far beyond the ...

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