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  Why is the EU anniversary’s champagne notsweet?

Èeslovas Iðkauskas, political analyst
2007 04 04

On 25 March the European Union celebrated its 50th anniversary.

The beginning of the history of the European Union should be related to three European Communities: the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 in Paris, and the European Atomic Energy and European Economic Community established in Rome in 1957.

The official title of the European Union (EU) appeared in 1993 when the Maastricht Treaty, signed on 7 February 1992, entered into force.  This and other below indicated Treaties are considered as the key legal instruments providing the background for co-operation of the EU Member States:

The Treaty of Rome signed on 25 March 1957, and establishing the European Economic Community.

The Single European Act (SEA) was signed on 17 February 1986 in Luxembourg (entered into force on 1 July 1987). The SEA was the first major revision of the Treaties of Rome on the establishment of the European Communities.

Treaty of Amsterdam signed on 2 October 1997, amending the EU Treaty, the Treaty on the Establishment of the European Communities and other related acts.

The Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (Constitutional Treaty) has been elaborated in the Convention on the Future of Europe (August 2002 – June 2003), and in June 2004 adopted by the leaders of the European Union. With a view to making the Treaty operating, each EU Member State will have to ratify it.

According to Newsweek, currently a unified Europe is a confederation of global importance. According to its economic power, none of the similar structures managed and are not going to overtake the EU.  Today the EU represents its 27 member states with nearly 500 million population. The European values are disseminated all over the world and in many cases they are more attractive than the American ones. The EU is increasing, and not declining, as indicated by certain skeptics beyond the Atlantic Ocean.

However, the head of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso admitted that problems do exist: economic indicators of the EU decreased below the global level, certain legal issues are also unresolved - the EU Constitution is still blocked by the referendums of France and the Netherlands, rejection of Constitution increases psychological passivity of the Europeans.

Moreover, demographic situation of the majority of the EU Member States is very bad. The natural birth rate is further decreasing. It is anticipated that by the year 2050 the ratio of the employed and pensioners in the EU will be 2:1 (today – 5:1).

A certain anxiety characteristic of the EU Member States was reflected in the inquiry ordered by The Financial Times and organized on 28 February-12 March. It revealed unoptimistic moods within the Community and attitudes of the citizens towards their future. Pursuant to the data of the inquiry, 44% of citizens believe that after a membership of their country in the EU, their life has worsened, and only 25% of the European respondents said that their life after the membership has improved. Although there are a lot of complaints and many respondents consider the EU as too bureaucratic, only few of them believe that it would be better for their country to withdraw from the EU. 22% of citizens of Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy are for the withdrawal of their countries from the block; meanwhile 40% of respondents are convinced that withdrawal would not be a good decision.


A.Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, which has taken over the presidency of the EU, described the future of Europe in 50 years in the following way (newspaper La Repubblica): „We will have to accept the challenge of China, India and Latin America, therefore the Europeans shall act effectively and collectively <...> Everybody shall understand that we must protect our values together, and that we will manage to combat terrorism. However, in order to do that, we shall work very hardly...“

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