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Did the formation of the European Union represent a break with past forms of

European states systems?

The formation of the European community represented a new form of states system as it aimed
at the development of economic, social and even political integration. The European Integration
has its originality in the fact that it was able to create a historical process whereby European
nation-states have been willing to transfer, or more usually pool, their sovereign powers in a
collective enterprise.The first move came in 1949 with the founding of the Council of Europe
which was a Pan-European body set up to protect democratic principles and sponsor the
integration of legal norms. After the WW2, European leaders considered the necessity of
European Integration based on two main factors; the first one was a will of creating peace within
Europe and the second one was the belief that the European Integration was the only way of
making Western Europe strong on the international scene with the two superpowers which were
the USA and Russia.

Europe in 1914 (before WW1):


In 1914, before the Great War, Europe was full of powerful empires like the German Empire,
Russian Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. An empire is a group of
nations or people ruled over by the same individual, also know as emperor.
Example of empires: Ottoman Empire, Austro-Hungarian empire (etc.)
Europe after WW1:

Different empires fell and many different nations became independent and thanks to
nationalism they started building up in each new country, new constitutions and different
political regimes. WWI, as the first modern total war, placed unbearable strains on the
physical and political structures of those empires.All the empires that fell were empires which
were landlocked and didnt have colonies.
After WW1, in Europe there has been a shift from Empires to nation states.
A Nation state is a sovereign state inhabited by a relatively homogeneous group of people
who share a feeling of common nationality.
In the 1930s countries in Europe were growing at different rates and Germany was massive
and became always more powerful.
New Dilemma arose: Dilemma of nation states as some were much bigger and stronger
compared to others.
-->Smaller nations which had recently become independent understood that things had
changed and that now if they had to face an attack they would have to face it on their own,
while in an empire they had bigger military possibilities and economic capabilities then on
their own.
The first invasion which in the end sparked WW2, was by the Germans in Poland as Poland
had access to less territories and couldnt withstand Germany.
After WW2:
WW2 was devastating also for the winners as countries like France and Britain had spent
huge amounts of money in the war. Therefore after the war, the weakened powers of Europe
had to realise their inferiority compared to the US and the Soviet Union.
In fact, historians often say that: we have switched from the Imperial system to a bipolar
system represented by United States and Soviet Union.

Is then European Integration a break or not with these past forms?

On one side, the European Union integration represents a break with previous systems. The
European Union wanted to prevent the resurgence of war and as a consequence created trades
as the free trade of goods, services, capital and people. The members of the European Union
are also more interdependent and do not have full sovereignty over their decisions and their
currency. With the creation of euro countries need to follow the instructions of the central bank.
We might think that the EU is a federal system but the major difference with this system is
that EU laws cannot be approved without the consent of the Member States.
However, it is also worth to underline that the European Union Integration is not a real break
with past forms of European states systems but a continuation of the History. The European
Union may be seen as an empire. As in an empire, economically weaker states are helped and
protected by the stronger ones. We can then see that today, as Timothy Snyder claims that the
European integration is the answer to historical problems; an answer to the emergence of
weaker nation-states that were Eastern countries that needed support. Today, European can be
compared to the Holy Roman Empire because as it is now Germany was its central power.
Some people argue that the European institutions are a convenient mask for German hegemony
however, it would be worth to underline that Germany has also a hard time being in the
European Union trying to fix the problems but without having the freedom to make decisions.
Conclusion:
The European Union can be seen as a break with past forms of European states system because
it has adopted its own special functioning. However, it has preserved some of the
characteristics of the past forms of European Nation systems. We should also not forget that
the European Union is facing similar problems that previous systems did. This was shown with
the conflict in Ukraine in 2013 when once more European states getting into conflict with
Russia over Ukraine.
Jan Zielonka compared the European Integration to a polyphony in music. He said This is why
we need a new approach to integration [...] comparable to polyphony. I borrowed the concept
from music, where it refers to two or more independent melodic lines employed
simultaneously.
Following the quote of Jan Zielonka we could ask ourselves if the solution for the European
Union is an ever closer union or for genuine diversity? Which system would be workable?
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