History and Background
The European Union, with the strength of 27 nations located primarily in Europe, is the strongest union in the world. It is simply a group of countries that have decided to join forces for their mutual benefit. Although it is not considered as a separate federation, it is far more than just any free-trade association such as the ASEAN and NAFTA. It has many features similar to those characterized by independent nations. The European Union has a distinct and own flag, a national anthem, and even common currency. The major policy decisions such as the foreign policy are also centralized in the European Union.
The European Union, a geopolitical entity was created based upon several treaties and since has undergone expansions that have taken it from 6 to 27 member states. After World War II in the late 1940s many European leaders were convinced that if peace was to prevail in the region, the two chief quarrelsome nations of France and Germany had to be united at a political and economic level. First, the European Coal and Steel Community was formed with six nations including Germany and France.
Its success led to further integration creating the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM). Later on, in 1967 these institutions were merged to form the European Community (EC). Further expansion followed with more countries joining hands together; however, it was not until 1993 that this further integration created the European Union (EU). It was primarily established by the Treaty of Maastricht based upon the foundations of the former European Economic Community (EEC).
A new currency was launched in the world financial markets on 1st January 1999 called the ‘Euro’. It was accepted as a primary unit of exchange across all EU nations except the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Denmark. To ensure that the EU continues to function in an efficient manner the Treaty of Nice, February 2003, set forth rules streamlining the size and procedures of EU states and institutions. Recent events in June 2007 show steps are being taken to create an EU constitution in the form of the Reform Treaty. However, this treaty was rejected by Ireland in June 2008.
The European Union is, without doubt, the world’s largest integrated marketplace with over 500 million potential customers in 27 member states in July 2009. With this vast consumer base, the EU generates an estimated 30% of the world’s gross world product.
The EU is a very dependable, diverse, and urbane market. It is also a very open market with lower tariffs and entry restrictions. It has been successful in developing a single market through an efficiently standardized system of laws and procedures. These laws ensure the free movement of people within the member states, the free movement of capital, service, and consumer goods. Common types of policies on trades ensure a stable and smooth environment for trade seekers.
The European Union acts in an extensive range of policy areas. These areas include economic, social, regulatory, and financial sectors where its involvement is always aimed at benefiting the member states. The focus is on providing a safe and secure environment for its resident population that leads to prosperity. Through this, it achieves free travel and trade, safer food, a greener environment, better living standards and quality of life, joint action in crime and terror, and several other advantages and benefits for member states.
Given the diversity in terms of member states, the European Union accommodates a rather diverse climate and terrain with fairly mild wet winters and hot dry summers in the south and temperate to the north whereas the terrain characterizes of fairly flat structure along the Baltic and Atlantic coast and mountains in the southern and central areas.
Given this landscape structure, the region is rich in natural resources natural gas, iron ore, petroleum, lead, copper, zinc, uranium, hydropower, arable land, timber, and fish just to name a few. Moreover with a staggering population of 498 million and a growth rate of 0.108% and a healthy life expectancy which averages around 78 years this institution can very well prove to be the whale of a business. Given its economic, geographic, financial, and political framework, the EU most certainly provides immense opportunities for growth, stability, and success for any type of business.
When it comes to the figures the EU is by far the largest economy of the world (if considered as a single economy) in terms of nominal GDP and the second-largest trading bloc in the world by Purchasing Power Parity valuation of GDP. Germany an important member of the EU is considered to be the leading exporter of goods and on the other hand also the second biggest importer of goods after the United States. The economy is a major trading partner with other larger economies such as India and China. One notable fact is that 170 of the top 500 largest companies have their headquarters in the EU. Geneva, Brussels, Paris, and Frankfurt accommodate several headquarters of major companies and international organizations.
Given the current economic conditions which saw many of the worlds’ major economies go into a recession after 2007, the EU is being affected since many of the world’s major economies such as Germany, France, and the United Kingdom are located here. After a sustained period of growth new challenges have emerged for the Euro area. Output growth has lost thrust through 2008 with GDP figures declining throughout the member state economies.
This has been linked to the international financial market commotion that started in 2007 and increased in September 2008. Inflation levels also rose well above the European Central Bank’s price stability levels. The EU needs to continuously assess and respond to the changes in the world financial markets and the world economy as a whole. Adequate regulation in the financial environment is obligatory.
The EU is internally moving its efforts towards minimizing trade barriers amongst member states; adopt common policies and the convergence of living standards. European Union’s major aim has been to boost Europe’s trade position and to further strengthen its economic and political power in the global arena.
As we already know, the member countries of the EU produce nearly 30% of the total gross domestic product of the planet. The GDP growth rate stands at 1% whereas the GDP purchasing power parity is a healthy US$ 14.82 trillion. The GDP per capita is also reasonably impressive and stands at $33,400 proving that the buying power does exist in the economy. The GDP figure of $18.85 trillion is based upon 5.6% agriculture, 27.7% industry, and 66.7% services. The EU boasts a huge labor force of nearly 225 million with an unemployment rate of 7.5% and inflation stands at 3%.
The EU is a major exporter to almost all countries in the world. Give its diverse natural resources it has been able to diversify in terms of manufactured products and services. It is amongst the largest and most technologically advanced economies. Its production base includes both metal and non-metal production and processing such as metal products, chemicals, aerospace, passenger and commercial vehicles, fishing, construction equipment, industrial equipment, pharmaceuticals, shipbuilding, petroleum, electronics, and telecommunications equipment, electrical power equipment, machine tools, and automated manufacturing systems, beverage processing, and last but not the least tourism.
Clearly, the market is vast with huge potential. These industries export dairy products, motor vehicles, alcoholic beverages, aircraft, plastics, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, iron and steel, nonferrous metals, paper products, wood, machinery, textiles, meat, fish within Europe, and across the world.
The single market structure of the EU enables it to exercise free flow of goods, services, capital, and people across borders. The customs union applies an external tariff on all goods entering the market. The free movement of capital allows easy movement of investment towards poorer EU countries in terms of property purchases or dealings in the capital markets. The citizens of the EU are also free to move within its jurisdictions for any purpose (including study, work, etc).
The official currency of the EU is called the Euro, operating within the Eurozone – a group of 16 member states. It is used in all documents, transactions, and policies. The Euro is the most extensively used currency in the EU and is coming up as a formidable counterpart to the US dollar. Some countries, such as the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Sweden have special opt-outs against using the Euro until they are prepared to do so.
As the different member states vary along with their development i.e. some are developed whilst others are developing, there is a considerable amount of economic variation amongst the EU. The standards of living also vary with Luxembourg with the highest whilst Bulgaria is at the lower end of the ladder. In terms of GDP, Germany has the highest share mainly because of its wide industrial base followed by the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Spain.
Smaller countries such as Malta, Cyprus, Latvia, etc contribute far less to the EU GDP. The economic performance also varies from state to state. Italy for e.g. has the highest amount of public debt (105.8% 0f GDP), GDP per capita being highest for Luxembourg ($82,306), annual change in GDP being highest for Romania (7.1%) and in negative for Latvia (-4.6%), Inflation being the highest in Latvia (15.3%) and unemployment being the highest in Spain at 17.4%. Thus there is a wide gap in the economic statistics which is a key issue for the EU. Resources have to be relocated in order to streamline growth and production.
The services sector is the most significant part of the EU economy. It makes up 69.4% of the GDP, compared to manufacturing 28.4% and agriculture with a mere 2.3%.
The agricultural sector has a very small contribution thus it is supported by extensive subsidies with 40-50% of EU’s spending coming towards agriculture especially in the UK where these rates are extremely high. This puts the developing countries where agriculture is a main component in the export market.
Tourism is a very thriving business form in the EU. The Schengen Treaty makes tourism within member states easy and affordable. Moreover, no visa is required for travel within the EU. With a range of destinations to offer like the hustle and bustle of London, French architecture, the beaches of Spain and the Tranquility of Austria the EU attracts more tourists each year from within and from outside. France is the number one tourist destination, followed by Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom.
The European Union comprises of many member countries that have the roots of some of the most renowned multinational companies of the world and now house their global head offices. Some of these companies are also the world giants in their respective industries. For e.g. Allianz, the world’s largest financial service provider; Airbus, producing more than half of the world’s aircraft; Arcelor Mittal, the world’s largest steel company to name a few.
Financial instability across the world has led to the need for adequate regulation in financial activities. EU’s financial system keeps developing and becomes more integrated with the passage of time. Credit growth has also been upbeat with the emergence larger and more complex cross-border banking groups and insightful financial innovations have enabled the economy to diversify risks. Coordinated action is being taken to reinstate confidence in financial markets. Inflationary pressures on the other hand seem to be coming under control with inflationary pressures diminishing across the economy. The fiscal performance of the Euro in early 2009 also improved and was backed by favorable revenue growth.
Recession in the Economy
The end of the exchange rate turbulence that struck the economy and realignments within the euro area are indicators of stability. Today, all member states are exploring responses to the financial crises and ensuring their swift implementation in their respective economies.
The previous five years has seen an upturn in economic activity boosted by strong export and investment growth. Consumption has, however, remained relatively weak due to a high rate of household saving and no growth in disposable income. The Euro has appreciated steadily despite the current situations. Since the recession struck there have been three major macroeconomic alarms for the EU economy. There has been a rapid increase in energy and food prices linked to the increase in fuel prices worldwide, the global credit cycle has turned and the housing cycle has peaked in several EU nations.
The European Union follows a Common Agriculture Policy in order to increase output, consistent food supplies, markets, good return to the farmers, and ensuring levelheaded prices for consumers. Its measures include import levies, import quotas, intervention prices, direct subsidies and production quotas to counter the issues created through overproduction. The current areas of focus that are issues to reform include the quality and pricing of food alongwith return to the farmers. Moreover, environmental pollution and animal welfare are also key issues to be addressed on a regular basis.
In terms of farm land France leads with Spain, Poland and Germany following. Agricultural production in these countries has a greater share of the total EU agricultural output. The products produced by these nations include oilseeds, barley, wine, wheat, cattle, grapes, dairy products, and fish.
In terms of energy the ratio is 55-45 in favor of import that is around 45% is produced within EU the rest is imported. Nuclear energy is the major source of energy produced in the EU regardless of its source with a 29.3% share of the total energy production followed by coal and lignite, gas, (and interestingly) renewable energy, oil ends the list. Following in the lines of the European Coal and Steel Community, the EU now has legislative power in the area of energy policy.
The policies aim towards increasing competition in the internal markets, diversify energy resources, improving relations with energy rich states, increasing funding for new energy technologies and lastly, using the current energy resources efficiently. The EU is largely dependent on Russia for its energy supplies and since ties with Russia have been a little edgy, it needs to diversify its energy supply sources.
The EU boasts its infrastructure through its major airports, sea ports, buildings, railway networks, waterways and roadways. The communication and transport infrastructure in the EU is considered one of the most complex and most efficient in the world.
The EU is working to improve cross-border infrastructure within the EU to have a well established and closely knit network and collaboration amongst all the 27 member states. It is estimated that by 2010 the network would cover: 75,200 kilometers of roads; 78,000 kilometers of railways; 330 airports; 270 maritime harbors; and 210 internal harbors. The development of the EU transport policies will adversely affect the environment.
An infrastructure project called the Galileo positioning system is being built by the EU and is to be launched in 2010. It will serve as an alternative to the Global Positioning System (GPS). It aims to provide more precise measurements than the GPS including height above sea level and better positioning services at higher latitudes.
Major environmental issues that have come under discussion in the EU include all sorts of pollution, acid rain, depletion of the ozone layer and quality of air. One such example is the Water Framework Directive it’s a water policy which aims that the rivers, lakes, ground and coastal waters be of at least “good quality” by 2015. Moreover chemical waste is also strictly monitored and all harmful emissions of all kinds are regulated. An important development that took place in 2007 was that the members of the EU agreed to increase the share of renewable energy to 20% and reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 20% to be achieved by 2020. The aim is to ensure that 1/10th of all cars and trucks in the EU would be running on bio fuel. Therefore it can be said that the EU is one of the leading countries taking steps against global warming.
Moreover at the 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference, the EU proposed that it would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050, this attempt has received a further boost in the form of expansion in EU’s forests which grew by 10% and 15% in Western Eastern Europe respectively.
Education and Research
The policy for education was primarily developed in the 1980s and focused towards exchange programs and mobility. The highly successful ERASMUS programme was initiated in 1987 and since then has supported exchange activities for more than 1.5million students both at university and college levels. More similar plans are intact and aspire to encourage a wider knowledge of other countries and to share education and training practices across the EU.
Scientific development, another major aspect, is supported through the EU’s Framework Programs. This aims to coordinate and stimulate research amongst the member states where they are encouraged to combine resources and expertise to develop new ideas and technologies. The European Research Council funds these research activities.
The European Union as a combination of all 27 member states is a very large economy. These states include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The total population of the EU is estimated to be above 499 million in January 2009.
This is a staggering 7.3% of the total world population given that it covers only 3% of the world’s land. The EU is one of the most densely populated regions in the world where one third of the population living in cities with over a million people. It is also home to more global cities than any other region in the world for e.g. London, Paris, Frankfurt, Madrid and Rome. The most populous member state is Germany with an estimated 82.1 million people.
Malta lies on the other end of the ladder with a mere 0.4 million people. Birth rates overall are low but in respect to member countries Ireland has the highest (14.33 births per thousand) and Germany with the lowest (8.18 births per thousand). France is the largest in terms of land area whilst Malta being the smallest. The most populous cities are London followed by Berlin, Madrid, Rome and Paris.
Furthermore, there is sizeable movement of people across borders. This occurs in patterns, with people moving from industrialized areas like Germany to Sun belts in Spain and France and from the poorer Eastern countries of Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland to the more successful economies of Germany, France and UK.
The EU is a very diverse community in terms of religion as well. As a whole the EU functions as a secular body with no formal connections towards any religion. A nominal majority follows Christianity mainly Roman Catholicism, Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Regardless of this diversity many citizens aren’t Christian for e.g. many people in the Czech Republic and Estonia have no religious association. Over the years with the arrival of immigrants, many more religions have also been brought to the EU mainly Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism.
The EU has an equally diverse language layout. All in all it has 23 official and working languages mainly because each country has its own language. These languages include Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Irish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, and Swedish. The authorities provide translation of all official documents and texts into all the 23 different languages. German is obviously the most widely spoken national language due to Germany’s population figure followed by English, Italian and French. However, more than half of the EU’s population speaks English as a foreign language. Besides these 23 languages there are above 150 regional and minority languages including the languages brought in by immigrants such as Hindi, Chinese, Russian, Turkish etc.
In terms of their respective populations the ethnicities also vary from region to region. The largest ethnic group in the EU is obviously German (77 million) followed by French (65 million) and British (61 million). Moreover, Italians, Spanish and Polish people also range above 40 million each.
Yet again, given the diversity in the 27 member states, the EU is highly rich in terms of cultural heritage. Although policies affecting cultural matters are not in the hands of the EU and are set by each member state on its own, the cultural cooperation amongst these states is in abundance. Several events and actions are undertaken each year to boost in intercultural ties amongst the member states.
These include the European Cultural Month which aimed to promote culture; however, this event has been suspended lately. Moreover the media plus programme aims to promote audio-visual works of different nations, European Union Youth Orchestra, and the European Capital of Culture Programme (currently the capitals of culture are Vilnius, Lithuania and Linz, Austria). Grants are also given to cultural projects and a dedicated Web portal for Europe and culture is also functioning to support the networking of cultures.
Europe is also considered the hub of many sporting activities. The UK for e.g. is hosting the ICC Twenty 20 World Cup currently. Football, Rugby and Cricket are major sports played in the region and are renowned throughout the world. All EU member states and their respective teams participate in European sporting events and organizations such as UEFA, the Union of European Football Associations. Football specially has emerged as a most popular sport in the EU. The English football clubs namely Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool are famous both within the EU and worldwide.
In addition, philosophy as well has a stronghold in the EU with Christian thought widely popular. Music on the other hand has seen its roots come from the region. The EU member states were birthplaces for classical music and today incorporate a wide range of music ranging from hip hop, jazz, pop, rock and dance music.
Political Governance and the Legal System
The EU is mainly divided into three areas of responsibility also known as the three pillars. The first pillar is established through the European Community policies, the second is the Common Foreign and Security Policy and lastly the Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters. Most activities of the EU reign under the first pillar. Here the supranational institutions have most influence as compared to the other two pillars which are best described as intergovernmental pillars. Here the intergovernmental Council of Ministers and European Council make decisions.
A number of institutions regulate the activities of the EU. The political leadership is directed through the European Council. The council’s composition is of one representative from each member state which can be the head of state or government and then there’s the president of the council. The council is used to solve disputes amongst member states and seek solutions to controversial issues, policies and political crises.
The European Commission is an executive branch of the European Union and instigates new legislation and monitors the day-to-day activities of the EU. As with the European Council, here as well, there are 27 members from different member states representing different areas of policy.
The EU legislature is comprised of two halves, the first being the European Parliament and the second being the Council of the European Union. The European Parliament comprises of 785 members who are selected by the EU citizens every five years. The Parliament and the Council form and pass on legislation in a joint process. The Council of the European Union on the other hand consists of a government minister from each member state. The council carries out legislation as well as certain executive functions.
The Judicial area of the EU contains the European Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance. They are responsible for interpreting, implementing and regulating the treaties and the laws outlined for the EU. The European Court of Justice deals with cases taken up by member states whereas the Court of First Instance deals with cases taken up by individuals and companies.
The Legal System
The EU is based on several treaties signed and agreed upon in the past. These treaties set broad policy goals for the European Community and the EU. They also established institutions with the necessary powers to implement the goals.
The main legislative acts of the EU are of three forms Regulations, Directives and Decisions. The moment they are enforced, regulations become laws in all member states and each member state must fully adopt and implement the regulation. Directives require member states to achieve certain results for e.g. reductions in green house gas emissions. It is up to the member states as to how they achieve these results and what measures they take. They are legal acts that apply to certain individuals, companies or a specific member state. Although their approaches are different but the rules and regulations all have equal legal validity and apply without any formal structure.
One complicating characteristic of the EU’s legal system is the variety of procedures used to enact legislation. The two most common procedures include co-decision and consultation. In co-decision, the European Parliament can veto certain legislation and in consultation the Parliament is only allowed to give an opinion which might or might not be taken into consideration.
Many agencies have also been established for the area of justice and home affairs. The Schengen Information System is used by the EU providing a common platform for security agencies and authorities. Furthermore the EU has legislations in the fields of criminal justice, extradition, asylum law and family law. On the other hand, the European Court of Justice provides judgments on fundamental rights.
Foreign Direct Investment
The European Union has a lot of dependence on Foreign Direct Investment to generate revenue especially in the emerging markets of China and India. Mostly the EU carries out an outward flow of foreign direct investment in developing countries in Asia and Africa. In 2008 the EU’s FDI outflows fell by 28%, from 496 billion Euros in 2007 to 354 billion Euros in 2008, while FDI inflows from the rest of the world decreased by 57% from 400bn to 173bn Euros.
Within the EU, FDI dropped by 42% as compared to 2007. Given the global recession the affect on FDI was staggering for the EU. EU’s major outflows of FDI go to the USA, offshore financial centers and Canada. These investments fell throughout 2008 but investments grew in Switzerland and Russia. Of the major investors, USA’s investment in the EU fell as did the investments of offshore financial centers, Switzerland, Japan and India whilst investments from Canada and Brazil rose.
Luxembourg, France and United Kingdom were the main actors in extra-EU27 FDI flows i.e. flows outside the member states. Luxembourg, with outflows of 83bn Euros was the largest investor as well as the main recipient of FDI inflows from extra-EU27 mainly due to the importance of its financial intermediation activity. Moreover, in 2008, EU was a net investor in the rest of the world with outflows exceeding inflows. France, on the other hand, was the main actor in intra-EU27 FDI.
Reasons for investing in the EU? Prospects as a trading Partner
The EU provides many incentives for investors. It provides access to a large single market of 500million customers within a sound and stable macroeconomic and political environment and a relatively high level of income. There is a clear transparency of regulatory reform and legal certainty exists. Investment protection is guaranteed and protection of Intellectual Property Rights also present. The EU has a very strong scientific and technological research base complimented with highly qualified experts; it provides the modern, safe and efficient infrastructure allowing businesses to operate with ease.
Moreover, there exists a diverse and varied pattern of taxation and welfare systems, thus making it less expensive. A large number of incentives in the form of favorable tax regulations, tax holidays, low cost of land etc are also provided for investors in various fields. It also offers a whole range of investment opportunities including direct investment in manufacturing or services, equities, funds and portfolio investments and venture capital. Therefore, the EU is a very vibrant and attractive economy as a whole; individually each member state has its own attraction factors for e.g. UK for services, Germany for manufacturing, Austria for tourism etc. There are immense prospects for trade as well with the EU having so much to offer for both developing and developed countries.
EU: International Trade
The European Union is the largest exporter in the world with Germany taking a major chunk of the export share. In the year 2007 the EU’s external exports stood at an overwhelming $1.952trillion whilst imports stood at $1.69 trillion. The current account balance of the EU stood at a positive $52 billion approximately according to a 2008 estimate. Through trade, both at an internal and external level, the EU aims to ensure that both the EU and the trading partner can benefit from an exchange of goods and services. Internal trade amongst the member states is very easy and hassle free since there are no barriers such as tariffs, quotas and border controls. Given the Euro as the widely used currency the price levels of many commodities are the same across the EU.
Government policies towards trade
The European Union is going ahead with a global Europe perspective towards trade in the international arena. The European Union’s trade policy is a major shaper of Europe’s competitiveness in the world markets. Being an open economy, the EU aims at securing improved market access for its industries, services and investments, as well as enforcing the rules of free and fair trade. The main aim of the EU’s trade policy is to propose a new generation of free trade agreements, strengthen intellectual property agreements, open up public procurement abroad, and reinforce the EU market access strategy. Policies work towards promoting the development of economic activities, high employment and competitiveness, and environmental protection.
The negotiations and conferences undertaken by the EU revolve around three basic principles. Firstly, new markets have to be opened in agricultural goods, industrial goods and services. Secondly, a sustainable development is required to respond to the concerns of developing countries and civil society. Lastly, the regulatory framework currently in place needs to be constantly polished and improved.
The defensive instruments to ensure fair trade and defend the interests of the European companies include anti-dumping measures, anti-subsidy measures and safeguards. On the other hand, the offensive instruments to open up new markets and eliminate obstacles to trade include trade barriers regulation, market access strategy and monitoring of third country trade defense measures.
Globalization has put trade issues at the center of concerns. The opening up of new markets will definitely provide new opportunities if harnessed by collective rules and if the EU sustains competitiveness towards fair trade.
Participation in International Organizations
The European Union is highly active when it comes to participation in cross-national cooperation and agreements, regional trading blocs, FTA’s etc. The EU is represented as a unified entity in the World Trade Organization where it serves all its member states and acts on their behalf if any disputes arise. It is a dialogue member of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), a member of the International Development Association (IDA), an observer for South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and also a United Nations observer.
Moreover within the European community it is a member of the Council of Baltic Sea States (CBSS), European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Food and Agriculture Organization for the United Nations (FAO), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), World Customs Organization (WCO), European Central Bank and the G8 and G10 summits to name a few.
The EU also has free trade agreements with some major world economies such as Japan, India, USA and China in certain fields. Furthermore, it plans to seek more free trade agreements with several other countries. Amongst trading blocs where the EU or a majority of EU member states are active include the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union, European Economic Area (EEA) and SAARC (mentioned above).
Major trends affecting the standing of the EU
Recent news has indicated that Turkey and Croatia are two more candidate countries eager to join the European Union. With Turkey, the EU would be able to open up a whole new market and it will also provide easy access to the Asian and Middle Eastern markets.
The European Union elections are soon coming up along with the European Parliament elections. The changes in the workforce in the Parliament could bring changes to the EU all together, member states are working rigorously to ensure that their best expertise gets selected.
Lastly, the world economic situation seems to be stabilizing for certain areas whilst deteriorating for others. The EU would have to handle the world economy very delicately and flex its policies and actions in accordance with those in order to maintain a good footing in the global business environment.
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