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European Integration Is On The Way Of Become An International Actor

European Union plays an important role in international system.  European integration is on the way of become an international actor. We examine economic, political, security and social policies in international system for European Union. We can say that European Union is not international actor or actor. Also, we mention about enlargement and deepening issues in the EU process. European Union aim is to establish economic cooperation and provide peace in its border. European Union has an expansion of economical, social, political and security policies by reaching its border. With The Hague Summit, enlargement and deepening issues became important role for shaping of European Union.

Economic field caused trouble in integration process. Therefore, requirement of political integration caused a tendency of deepening for affiliation. EU’s target to reach that first one about continuity of peace relations between states, second one is interdependence common interest; thirdly sovereign states establish a political authority in a federal structure. We can say that European integration process reach to target in economic integration but political and security integration are still controversial issues in the progress.

In 1957, with the Rome Treaty, European Economic Community (common market) and EURATOM was established by Germany, Italy, France and Benelux. By this means Rome Treaty presented capital, goods, service, and free movement of people. We can give example: lift/remove tariff or custom duty between member countries, application of common customs tariff to the third countries, improvement of capital and labor force, free movement, common agriculture and transportation policy[1]. These examples showed us that the aim is to provide to continuity of stability and welfare with the establishment of economic integration. EURATOM created the common market for using peaceful means about using atomic energy such as EU set up a nuclear power industry; make safety and health regulations for the exchange of nuclear material and equipment[2].

In 1951, with the Paris Treaty, European Coal and Steel Community were created to prevent German-France conflict. The main purpose was to gain political integration with the idea of “The United States of Europe”. For instance, with these organizations, Germany gained its political reputation after WWII. France extended agricultural product market with its industrialization and France had a political initiative. Free trade, free movement and common tariff were associated by the European Community on the July 1, 1967.

In 1992, Maastricht Treaty converted into “European Union”. EU has two main logics in the framework: Deepening and Enlargement. Mainly, the main method is“integration”. Integration method based on cooperation and association of politics in sectoral field and most importantly supranational structure became important role than national structure.

Every enlargement process has some problems. EU needed to the new instrument instead of structural reform such as deepening ways. Correspondence is an important principle in integration process. An enlargement process purpose was to resolve problems and EU’s interest.

We can look at the Maastricht Treaty, this treaty revise to the founding treaties. Maastricht Treaty converted into EU and common market, free movement labor force, etc. was substantiated. Geographically, European states removed discrimination East and West and wanted to spread generally in Europe. Economically, in 1986, The Single European Act prompted Economic and Monetary Union and with the Maastricht Treaty made a decision about transition of single currency. This treaty provided to the ended of bipolar system. EC considered inadequacy of foreign policy and wanted to participate Common Foreign and Security Policy. After the distribution of USSR, Copenhagen Criteria was stated to purpose that Central and East countries started to accommodate in relations. After the Maastricht Treaty and Copenhagen Criteria, European Union target dynamism with the increase its population and surface area. In this way, EU wanted to intensify efficiently as an international actor.

Austria, Finland and Sweden have an important role in international system for EU as an actor. These three countries as an example model other countries about enhancing of welfare and trust. These countries contributed to union about the issue of substantial, tradional, and democratic as a homogenous group. With the referendum results, Austria, Sweden and Finland became member of European Union in 1 January, 1995. However, negatively referendum result, Norway did not become a member of EU.

Amsterdam Treaty (1999) and Nice Treaty (2000) innovate such as democratization, transparency, closer to the citizen and people, defining their own identity. For providing transparency not only creation of “European identity”, defining as a concept, but also remove the legitimacy of the democratic process is an important point. With the Leaken Summit, EU gains to identity attain constitutional statute and acquire its authority in foreign policy.

On the other hand, Bulgaria and Romania are problematic states and as a candidacy states in 2007. According to EU, high unemployment rate, low social attachment and increasing crime rate became increasing in this region. However, health expenditures, level of education and organizational form are a similar/resemble with EU. Also, EU wants to in hold to the Balkan countries, because EU taking control of its own supervision for international system[3]. The aim is to accommodate relations between difference states.

We can look at the security issues. A security issue of EU goal is to want to be a model of cooperation, welfare, reconciliation and stability in neighbor countries. Creation of International Community, international organization and reputation of law in international system is identified by aims of European Security Strategy. Peace, security and development play an important role in European Union foreign policies. After the Common Security and Foreign Policy, European Security and Defence Policy met operational size. “ESDI is giving it a certain capacity to deal with conflicts in third countries in the form of peacekeeping and peace–making missions”[4]. ESDP give primacy Balkans and Caucasus, but not slight Africa, Asia and Middle East. EU missions to ensure the stability, to support the transition to democracy, justice system and security border is intended to help with the police forces. For example, NATO is an international actor to the responsibility of EU’s security. The development of ESDI has some factors: firstly, the end of Cold War and abolished of Soviet’s threat, EU has less addictive to NATO, second factor is about economic integration is achieved and also EU needs to complete political integration, third factor one is the continuity of wars in neighboring countries.

With the Paris Treaty (1954), Western European Union was established as security organization. The members of EU wanted to create its security system and animate to WEU instead of assign its security to the NATO. With this aim, EU created to the ESDI with the Maastricht Treaty (1992). However, broke up of Yugoslavia between 1991-92, Bosnia War in 1992-95, and in 2003 USA intervention to Iraq showed us, there is an inconsistency between member countries in EU foreign policy. Then, an ESDI purpose is to EU intervening decision-making process in international crisis and provides to have military force. Whit this way, EU can act independently with no NATO. ESDI’s main source is a democracy because ESDI want to move liberal and democracy values of EU to the instability regions. For example, Finland and Sweden are peaceful approach.

On the other hand, after the 9/11 events, EU reciprocate to sign legal favor agreement with the USA for preventing terrorism. With the globalization, there are some problems such as rapidly increasing population, organized crime, conflicts and poor countries, these problems affected directly EU. In addition, EU wants to increase integration with the enlargement policy, but on the other hand EU gets closer to the instability regions. With the global system, OSCE, Africa Union, ASEAN, Mercosur have an important role in international system. Consequently, we cannot say that European Union is international actor or not, because EU was not successful about military intervention. EU did not provide to union about defence industry, there is no cooperative venture in investment area, and defence plans do no deal with scope of international cooperation. In addition, European Union has low capacity about military possibility than NATO and USA. This situation showed us that USA and NATO have high military force and this condition is an obstacle to the EU to be as an actor in international system. We can give example of Turkey. European Union does not want to become a full-membership of Turkey (Turkey is Islamic region) because of ideological and psychological, ethnic, politic side, geopolitics, historical, Cyprus problem and economic condition. These reasons caused EU externalized Turkey from the ESDI. EU does not want to become member of Turkey, Syria, Iran, Iraq, etc. We can say that this reasons are slowed the extension of EU in the global system.

Also, European Political Cooperation was created in deepening structure. The aim of EPC was to provide to consult each other member countries about foreign policy issues. In international area, the important point is that adaptation changing of political and economic condition and hold together member countries. EPC prompted to balance economic weight of the community and start to role in international foreign affairs. EPC played an important role in Middle East peace negotiations and Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.

We can look at the globalization side. The concept of globalization is an increasing trade flows between countries and the concept of materialize capital investment as an international economic. Multinational corporations, international media, the internet are indicator of globalization. So economically, globalization is a suitable for states interest. EU goals to create an international community based on sovereign states. With the globalization, EU encounter to the different cultural values. Globalization is as a process a continuing process. Economically, the aim of the EU was to reduce trade barriers and adopt common external tariffs and some non-tariff barriers. “The role of EU is as a global actor by looking at its Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). It examines what role EMU and the European Single Currency-the euro- play in contributing to making the EU an influential global actor”[5].

Economic and political integration are main important role of the EU in the global system. The first and most important policy is about Common External Tariff was established and based on custom union. Economic integration has very effective role with the Delors Commission about “1992 Project”. With this way, free barrier is constructed. For example, GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) and WTO (World Trade Organization) have been negotiated with third countries. And also Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has important role external inferences.

Single European Act is known “association agreements”. EU wanted to enlarge in its border and neighboring countries, because EU started with Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) for industrial products. “Some EFTA countries and most CEECs have now joined as member states of the EU, pushing the EU’s borders further north and east”[6]. With this way, EU has role as an international actor for economic integration. For example, Uruguay Round developed the multilateral trade regime and created the WTO. EU wanted to actor same other actors like USA and Japan. Also, we can give example for economic integration: with the “European Economic Area Agreement (EEA)” was created and involve “four freedoms”: free movement of goods, services, capital and people.

We can give important state is China. China is an important factor for EU, because EU has a grant balance of trade deficit with China. China joined WTO and with the accession of China, cutting tariffs and removing many NTBs. China’s transition is to open society based on rule of law and respect for human rights, integrating China into the world economy, raising profile of the EU in China. EU creates a model for its institutions of regionalization and globalization. “Whereas its economic weight and trade power have been largely recognized, current debates are scrutinizing its increasing political and military capabilities in the formulation of common foreign, security and defense policies”[7] (Hill and Smith 2008) . EU wants to have a powerful actor in order to balance other powers such as the US, China, Russia, India. We can give example powerful states: Russia and USA. EU wants to work more closely with Russia to ensure “energy supplies”. EU depended on energy of Russia. And USA is the biggest trading partner of EU with the signing of Transatlantic agenda, the purposes of EU, promoting peace, stability, democracy, throughout the world, responding the global challenges, expansion of world trade. Transatlantic Economic Council in order to consolidate the economic relations, it is a political body. The parties agreed on plan for closer cooperation on crisis management and conflict prevention. The parties began to cooperate in environmental issue. Crisis management means that imply to aim is to found political solution with the using different military force. The prevention one is diplomacy, second one is about providing peaceful area to stop violence.

In addition, social policies of the EU have some policies that the freedom of movement of workers and harmonizing different social standards of the member countries. Health and safety conditions, equality between men and women are adopted with new provisions in the work place.

In a conclusion part, we can mention about European Union is on the way become an international actor. We can analyze that European Union succeed about economic integration, but fairly European Union is not a global actor. However, European Union continues it’s developed and enlarges in the globalization process. Main aim of European Union is to begin with political structure. If EU achieves political structure, supranational structure can be established. Consent of states is a common economic integration can be succeeded. This situation is a policy decision. If the issue of unity in diversity solves, EU can achieve politically. EU goes to the democracy element with Lisbon. With the Lisbon Treaty, EU extends QMV beyond services. EU has a now intergovernmental structure. Intergovernmental facilities decision-making process and enlargement process, and most importantly member countries can easily leave. We can say that balance between intergovernmental and supra-nationalism became the backbone of the community level. We can say that EU wants to have overall foreign policy approach of effective multilateralism. “Globalization restricts the impact of decisions made within a national framework. If democracy shall continue to be effective, it can no longer be referred to as a concept, exclusively bound to the national state”[8]. On the other side, culture is an important part of creation of identity. If European Union achieves to spread of difference culture, EU can influence in world politics as an international actor. European Union should protect to other cultures by the differentiated and flexibility decision. Operational policy is monitored by the EU’s powerful institution with the different cultural elements. Culture, science and technological innovation are seemed to encourage others to follow EU’s model in global process. EU has economic, political and security interest to defend. EU emphasized the achievements of European integration based on the values of freedom, human rights, the rule of law and democracy, also promoting of peace and prosperity to the regions. If security integration is succeed by all states, political union can be obtainable. European Union may be successful in the future. If European Union reorganize its institutions in changing world politics and specify its new policies, European Union can speedy step about political union.


  • Federiga BINDI, editor “The Foreign Policy of the European Union”/ Assessing Europe’s Role in the World, 2010.
  • Enzo CANNIZZARO, “The European Union as an Actor in International Relations”, Kluwer Law, 2002.
  • Bart GAENS, Juha JOKELA and Eija LIMNELL, “The role of the EU in Asia: China and India as strategic partner”, November 2009, Finland.
  • Salim GÖKÇEN, “Balkanlar’da Bölgesel Yaklaşım: Avrupa Birliği’nin Balkanlar Politikası”, 2023 Dergisi, Kasım 2004.
  • Joachim Alexander KOOPS, “THE EUROPEAN UNION AS AN INTEGRATIVE POWER?” / Assessing the EU’s ‘Effective Multilateralism’ towards NATO and the United Nations, Brussel University Press, 2011.
  • Finn LAURSEN (editor), “The EU in the Global Political Economy”, Brussels, 2009.
  • Carolyn RHODES, “The European Union in the World Community”, USA, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1998.
  • İrfan Kaya ÜLGER, Avrupa Birliği Ansiklopedisi, 1.seri, TÜRKAB, İstanbul 2003.

[1] İrfan Kaya ÜLGER, Avrupa Birliği Ansiklopedisi, 1.seri, TÜRKAB, İstanbul 2003, ss.36-39

[2] ÜLGER, a.g.e, ss.32-33

[3] Salim GÖKÇEN, “Balkanlar’da Bölgesel Yaklaşım: Avrupa Birliği’nin Balkanlar Politikası”, 2023 Dergisi, Kasım 2004, ss.73-74

[4] “The EU in the Global Political Economy”, Finn Laursen  (ed.), Brussels, 2009, p.40.

[5] Laursen, op.cit., p.46.

[6] Laursen, op.cit., p.20.

[7] Bart GAENS, Juha JOKELA and Eija LIMNELL, “The role of the EU in Asia: China and India as strategic partner”, November 2009, Finland, p.38.

[8] Enzo CANNIZZARO, “The European Union as an Actor in International Relations”, Kluwer Law, 2002, p.114-115.

Yazar: Zeynep YILDIRIMÇankaya Üniversitesi, Siyaset Bilimi ve Uluslararası İlişkiler mezunu.

23 Nisan 2012 Pazartesi

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Tek Yorum

  1. The actors in international politics are knowed generally their soft or hard powers. For EU, this situation means that “strong economy (until recently)or weak politics”. Basic problem is “completely don’t have a voice in international relations” for EU. EU must be “a soft power” primarily conflict areas in the world. Against USA who has a hard power, EU must give priority to its soft power.

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