Assignment 1: What is the European Union? 

Students with their new friend in Riga

by Steven MacDougall

Since its founding, the European Union has been tied together as a collection of interdependent nations who preemptively and voluntarily joined to create a body of nations that together have more global weight than the United States.  The EU has changed significantly from just a small economic group of six nations to now being so intertwined that it would be almost impossible for one of the twenty seven current nations to go to war with any other member nation.  For a war plagued continent, the prosperity and peace that the EU has brought is a welcomed view of a bright future for all the nations.  People living in this growing community can proudly say that they are European and not part of anything less than that.

by Jake Schoenfeld

Looking into the EU, it is very clear to see that they are an extremely proud and codependent community of Europeans and not just citizens of their respective countries.  The EU is a collection of nations who voluntarily and preemptively banned together to bring peace, stability, and unification to a part of the globe that was once and is still reminded of the horrors of countless wars.  To truly understand what the EU has done for it’s members and for Europe, one must understand the complete and utter chaos and devastation that Europe and it’s citizens have been subject to for hundreds of years.  The EU is creating a union of countries unlike what the world has ever seen and has grown from a small beginning of six nations to twenty seven and still growing.  The EU has allowed for people who live in Europe to call themselves Europeans.

By Justin S. Dooley

The European Union (EU) is a community of countries brought together to unite Europe and establish rights for the citizens of these countries. The EU was created for the unification and not protection of Europe after the second world war. Europe had been seriously hurt by the two previous wars and looked for peace within the continent. Through this is why we see an emphasis on social rights and not military protection, there is no military force of the EU. The EU puts the majority of power into the hands of the individual country and limited power in the EU. The main objectives are to establish and protect social and economic rights for the member nations and their citizens. Each nation is obliged to follow laws passed the EU but are otherwise free to rule within their democracy. Member nations must have and be able to protect a democratic system of governance.

By Abbey Keifer

The European continent was devastated during the first World War with
the incredible loss of life. After the second World War occurred, the
countries of Europe vowed peace and to never let something of a
similar nature happen again. Consequentially, they formed an economic
trade system which served to bind them deeply together. The system has
expanded to a completely voluntary Union. 27 nations now belong to
this alliance, with more countries begging to be accepted into the
social, political, and economic bond. Each member nation has given up
some rights for the greater European common good. The system of laws
dictating the protection of the European countries is extremely
complex and reflects the modern nature of the new Europe.

By Sara McLaughlin

The European Union is a unified collection of 27 European nations, voluntarily working together to improve the region. The EU was formed after the fall of the Soviet Union in order to bring peace and prosperity to the historically war-torn area. Though it is made up of several states, the EU functions much like a single government with judicial, legislative, and executive branches in place to gain optimum results in the political, social, and economic arenas. The open borders between EU member states allow for flowing ideas, labor, people, and goods across nations, allowing growth for all. As the EU continues to develop, it is becoming one of the most powerful players in international politics, holding more votes in international organizations than superpowers like the US and China. Nations are lined up waiting to join EU and take part in its promising future, as nothing like it has existed before

By Lindsay Swenson

Today’s European Union began as the Steel and Coal Community after World War II. After the horrors of hundreds of years of warfare, which Americans will never be able to fully understand, European nations sought peace and stability. The community of six nations grew into today’s group of 27 European nations through increasing economic, social and political
integration. The EU’s ability to adapt and evolve coincides with their goals
of long-term stability and efficiency.

Nations may lose some sovereignty and culture, but gain an effective welfare
state, protection of human rights, and stability through unity. Many people
in the EU view themselves as Europeans rather than as Belgian or French as
mobility across Europe increases and a more common culture emerges. Although there are currently issues with the Euro and member states, Europeans are proud of their ability to maintain stability and do not doubt the strength of the EU.

By Kaiti McGill

The European Union was founded on the ideal of peace as a means of ending war is Europe. The system is unprecedented and, therefore, hard to initially understand. Membership is not only voluntary, but requires upholding high social, political and economic standards. Even so, there are many countries wanting to be considered for membership. United under the EU, these countries provide a balance to the United States. While similarly powerful, the EU focuses on providing its citizens with free healthcare and its allies with foreign aid while the US focuses on its military operations. While many have expressed doubt, the EU continues to prove naysayers wrong.

By Derek Kiszely

The 20th century was undoubtedly American-centric. The 21st century, I
believe will revolve around the European Union. The EU is an economic
superpower of epic proportions. In fact, considering the enormous
economic influence the EU wields and will continue to possess it may
be more appropriate to call it the European Empire. The EU has the
potential to eclipse America as the “shining city on a hill”, become a
beacon of hope, and an ideal to strive for.

The EU is not without its flaws. The EUs refusal to create a
formidable EuroArmy, for instance, could turn out to be a big mistake
if Russia decides to take back the Baltics. The EU cannot forever rely
on America to come in and save the day.

If the European Union were personified by a character (lets call him
Eunice) his personality would be elitist, pretentious and annoying. He
would be kind, slow to anger, maternal even, fair (but a bit bossy)
and careful with his money. He’s also secretly a bit naive. He acts
like he knows what he’s doing in the hopes that people will assume he
knows what he’s doing when, in reality, he’s just winging it, so to

When the financial crisis almost made Chernobyl look like a stove
fire, The EU keep it’s cool and was able to weather the storm, much to
the surprise and perhaps chagrin of many who were eagerly writing the
EUs obituary. The EU proved its ready and able to take it’s rightful
place in the world stage as a superpower. The question is whether
America has realized that her understudy is ready for his solo, and is
going on whether she likes it or not.
By Sam Miller

After multiple world wars throughout the past century a heightened level of peace and prosperity has emerged in the form of a union of European nations. Admission into the EU requires each nation to solidify itself in order to ensure the security of the community. It is the new Ivy League. You can’t just apply because you have a diploma; a thorough background check is needed. The EU monitors financial data and economic stability, human rights, education, and a multitude of other characteristics in order to uphold its reputation and global standing. The European Union is most likely the best organization of united member states since America completed the feat in our nation’s past. While questions remain, we can be sure that in 60 years what has emerged from the coal and steel community of Europe has been for the betterment of citizens from England to Estonia.

By Amanda Cairns

Twentieth century Europe faced what seemed to be irreparable damage as countless losses from two world wars left a continent in disarray. From these tragedies emerged the European Union in hopes of preventing future wars on the continent. But what is the European Union? The EU is a difficult concept for such a militaristic country that has never faced war on their homeland like America to grasp because the purpose of its existence was to prevent neighbors from settling disputes with violence. It is an entity unlike anything the world has seen before—a community of twenty-seven nations with economic, social, and governmental ties that bound them.

By William Stirn

The European Union (EU) can be described in many different ways. It must be viewed from different lenses to fully understand why it exists and what it means to its citizens and others worldwide. Historically it was created after World War II as the coal and steel pact to help rebuild Europe but soon grew into an entity hoping to stop war in Europe from ever happening again. Generally it can be seen as cohort of countries and nationalities binding themselves to one system to stay safe. Moving away from an imperialistic strategy the EU worked to end militarization and work together to make this idea a reality. The social aspects that profoundly wedge themselves into the political spectrum make the EU unlike any other system on earth today. Socially the benefits are astounding. With high taxes each citizen can see the results of their dues personally. Overall the EU is an extremely impressive collection of nations working together in a way never perceived before.

By Kristin Downs

The European Union put simply is a economic and political union of
states.  It originated from the European Coal and Steel Community and the
European Economic Community in the 1950s.  Both the ECSC and EEC were
international organizations used to help promote unity in Europe after the
Cold War.  The EU takes this promotion of unity a step farther by
incorporating legislative and judicial power into the system.  Each country
must apply and meet various qualifications, some that not even the U.S.
could meet, to become a member of the EU.

Although a simple definition can be given it is a complicated system that
has many dimensions.  The EU tries to adhere to the concept of unity and
diversity but it can become unclear as to how this can be possible.  By
joining the EU each country maintains most of its sovereignty but also must
give some up in order to work together for a common European good.

By Jane Nicholson

As Europe was let in turmoil post World War II, serious measures needed to
be taken in order for countries to progress as individual, but also as a
whole of Europe. The EU’s foundation was the European Coal and Steel
Community and the European Economic Community, both in which nations entered after the War. It was within these communities that European countries united, freely, by choice of their own, to work together for social and economic benefits. Each participating member state had freely surrendered parts of their sovereignty, as well as meet a number of strict
qualifications in order to be apart of this union of nations.

It is important to understand that this unification of these European
countries was not at all militaristic; the unification was preemptive and
social, as well as economic. To this day with twenty-seven member states,
the EU continues to grow, uniting European nations to what some may consider a European Federation.

By Matt Verboon

Five days into our trip has taken us to Brussels, Bruges, and
Luxembourg.  We have been to the epicenter of the EU -the council and
parliament in Brussels and to Luxembourg to see the European Court of

The EU has been called many things and through our classroom
discussions, reading of the “The State of Europe”, and discussions
with EU officials and common citizens, we have been given many
different ideas of what the EU is.  There has not been full agreement
within the classroom discussions and there are still many of us that
skeptical if it has progressed beyond a common economic community.
The one thing we have all agreed on is that it is a brand new
experiment into tackling the complexity of governing a group of
people.  It is continuously evolving and although it has been close to
brink of breaking apart over various disputes, it is still here and

By Claire Tamer

It’s like a brotherhood

After spending five days in Burssels studying the European Union, visitng its various institutions and getting a first-hand look at how it functions I’ve decided the EU functions like a family.

Each country brings something different to the table: a unique talent, language, culture, history and more. Many of these countries have grown up together over the past few decades to a point where they prefer peaceful coexistence. With help from the European Parliament, Council and Court of Justice, these brothers work together to achieve political and economic influence around the world.

At the same time, Each country retains much of its own personality and independence while receiving direction and aid from the family. By looking at the EU this way, it’s easy to grasp the benefits for the member states.

By Kathleen Henry

The European Union is the political, financial and social union of 27 states in the continent of Europe. The EU originates from the European Coal and Steel Community.  The ECSC was founded by the Treaty of Paris in 1951, and with that, 6 states began the process of unifying Europe after WWII.

The European Union is sui generis, or completely unique, in the fact that the world has yet to see a geopolitical system that uses a portion of a state’s sovereignty to benefit a continent.

The EU works to create not only a common economy and governing system but one unified European culture. The EU has delivered over half a century of peace, risen standards of living, and a common currency.

The European Union is a global leader in regards to women’s rights, humanitarian efforts, health care, and more socio-political issues. The EU is something that the US and Americans can no longer ignore.

By Bill Wollman

If there is one thing I have learned about the European Union in our
whirlwind of a trip so far it is that it is impossible to make a
generalization about it. Europe is filled with paradoxes and
contradictions that make pin pointing the essence of the EU extremely
difficult. For example, we learned that Europeans are generally
stationary, however, they have basically removed all borders between
member states, allowing about 45,000 people to commute to Luxembourg
from other countries each day. However, if I had to name one thing that
all of the union shares it would be a common mentality. No one in the
EU claims their system is perfect, as details such as governmental
structure to sizes and locations of buildings are constantly
fluctuating. What the EU does have, however, is a common mentality of
a united Europe, free of war, where good such as democracy and
diversity can flourish. A political power without any need for
military might, but rather in possession of the power of diplomacy.
The European Union is a bold experiment and it is essential that
Americans recognize the implications of it.


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