The European Union (EU) is an economic and political body that has both intergovernmental and supranational features. This community is made up of twenty eight countries which are all located in Europe. The European Union was formed back in the year 1956 by European countries totaling to 6 in number but it was called the European Economic Community (EEC). From that time hence forth, the body has grown tremendously to what it is today. It has been able to absorb more members and has also increased its powers by the addition of new policies to its remits, (European Union 2007).
The EU has been able to establish one market that endeavors to guarantee the free movement of goods, services, people and capital between the countries that are members of this Union. The European Union maintains one trade policy common to all member states, on regional development as well as fisheries and agriculture. The Union has approximately 500 million citizens and is estimated to generate a GDP of €11. 4 (US$ 15. 8) trillion in the year 2007. This community observes the summits of the G8 and also represents all its member states to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The institutions of the European Union include; The European Commission The European Parliament The Council of the European Union The European Council The European Court of Justice The European Commission; This was formally referred to as the Commission of the European Communities. It is one of the governing bodies of the EU and forms the executive branch. It has a cabinet government made up of 27 commissioners. Each member state gives a representative to become a member of this commission. The commission is headed by a president who serves a term of five years after which elections are held.
The main function of this commission is the proposal of legislation, implementation of decisions made, upholding the treaties that the union enters to as well as conducting the day-to- day activities of the union. The official languages of the union are German, French and English. The commission has its offices in Brussels and is divided in to smaller departments that are similar to ministries. These departments are called Directorates-General (DGs). Every department is charged with a specific area of service or policy. Each DGs is lead by a Director-General who is answerable to a commissioner.
The European Parliament; Also known by the terms EP or Europal, this institution of the European Union forms the parliamentary organ that is elected directly. This institution in combination with the Council of European Union makes up the bicameral legislative branch of all the union’s institutions. This legislature has over the years been said to be the most powerful in the world. Its powers are however limited by the decisions of all the member states through the European Union, (European Union, 2007). The parliament has 785 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who serve the largest cross-national autonomous electorate worldwide.
It is elected directly after five years. The powers vested to it however, do not include legislative initiative unlike most of the national parliaments. This institution is charged with the responsibility of the Union’s budget and also the appointing of the other institution of the European Union namely the European Commission. The Council of the European Union; This council forms one of the only two legislative institutions and is different from the European Council. The other legislative institution is the parliament and has been discussed above.
This council is made up of 27 ministers each coming from every member state. The precise membership of this council is however dependent on the topic of discussion. For instance, when tabling a discussion on agriculture, only the ministers of agriculture in the 27 states form the council members. The members are answerable to the national electorates. The council only consults the parliament for assent. It is hence more powerful than the parliament. There is no permanent presidency in the Council of European Union. This position is rotated among the member states at an interval of six months.
The secretary General to this institution is very powerful and represents the foreign policy of the Union, (European Union 2007). The European Council; This is the EU council that consists of ministers from each and every member state of the European Union. There ministers act as ambassadors to the union as they represent their countries to the Union. This council is mandated with the responsibility of making the last legal decision regarding all the critical matters mainly based on the proposals coming from the either council in this regard represents and safeguards the interests of the respective national governments.
The European Court of Justice; Abbreviated as the (ECJ), this institution is hosted in Lexembourg. It is made up of Advocates General and Judges appointed by the governments of the member states. The functions of the European court of justice are; • Delivery of all the legally binding views on the agreements that are proposed between the European union and other international bodies, • Examination of the viability of all the material things that age carried out by all the other institutions of the European Union.
• To clarify on the European Union law, rules and regulations if and when requested by national courts on making preliminary judgments. • It is the mandate of the European Court of Justice, to take immediate action against any member state that infringes or goes against the law of the European Union. Any persons who may wish to for instance to challenge the legislation of the EU or by any chance compel a member country to implement legislation of the EU is not allowed to directly state the case to the European Court of Justice.
Such cases first go through the local legal system of the country in question and the appropriate domestic court where necessary thereafter refers the case directly to the ECJ, (European Union 2007). Compare briefly regional economic integration in Europe with universal trade and Payments liberalization, are they compatible Trade flows both local and international have grown over the years. Trade composition has also substantially changed with remarkable expansion of the service sector and the role plated by the developing nations in international trade.
The result has been the decentralization of activities, new opportunities opening for the developing countries, as well as intra-industry trading. The universal trade and payments liberalization has allowed nations to export the products that they can expertly make and import what is insufficient in their country. For instance, the US produces as well as exports aircraft due to its high potential in skilled labor while China which has less advantage produces and exports apparel. Such strategic benefits resulting from free trade are indicators of liberalization and the gains that come along with it.
Other benefits from the liberalization include; consumer savings due to increased competition, the low cost of goods and services; Higher salaries and creation of more employment opportunities; the realization of gains in total productivity factor; The opportunity of less developed nations to increase their income and productivity to the level of developed nations among others, (United Nations ,2007). The regional economic integration in Europe attempts to make one market that will guarantee free movement of products, labor and capital between the member states.
This is in a bid to make trade cheaper and the access and movement of goods and services easier without necessitating legislations and tariffs. Considering the zero tariff level and minimal customs procedure within various regional groups, it is evident that the most significant barriers to trade flow are long forgotten. It is for this reason that I feel that there is compatibility between the regional economic integration in Europe with universal trade and payments liberalization, (European Union, 2007).