Is the EU an Economic Giant and a Political Dwarf

Subject: Politics & Government
Pages: 6
Words: 1698
Reading time:
7 min
Study level: Undergraduate


European Union (EU) was established in the year 1993 after a series of treaties and trade agreements, between some European countries. With most of its policies originally from the previous European Economic Community (ECC) and European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the EU is one of the world’s largest economic unions and political influencers in recent times. However, EU influence is largely confined within the 27 European member states. The key objective behind the establishment of the EU was to harness good relations within European countries politically and in greater magnitude, for commerce purposes. In this context, European countries felt that they too needed to promote regional interests. European Union is a well-organized function that has a representative parliament of the member states; in this regard, the role of the EU has been large too; improve the cooperation between governments of the member states with the inclusion of some of the most sovereign issues of a country (Cini, 2007, p. 103). EU has emerged to be a key influencer of international economics and politics; making it one of the most influential international organizations in the globe. However, the EU has always acted behind the shadow of the United States and other greater superpowers like Russia and China, raising questions about its political agenda in Europe and the world. From my point of view, European Union is an economic giant and a political dwarf. This thesis researches whether the European Union is just but an economic giant and a political dwarf. To effectively evaluate this argument, the paper shall provide an overview of both the political and economic aspects of the European Union. It is widely evident that the economic functions of the European Union play a significant role in making the EU an economic giant, at the same time, the political system that governs the EU is on the verge of failing, making it a political dwarf.

Main Body

One of the significant achievements of the European Union is the establishment of a single integrated market that functions within the territories of its member states. This is heightened by the fact that EU member states have a common monetary union, which is principally referred to as the Eurozone. Statistics reveal that the European Union is the largest economy in the world; having a global Gross Domestic Product of approximately US $ 15 trillion, which represents a 21 percent market share of the global Gross Domestic product country (Cini, 2007, p. 110). The EU is also one of the largest trading partners with countries such as the United States. EU involvement in Europe trade and international traded has been tremendous over the years. There are more opportunities from trade as there is diversity in the commodity of goods and services being traded upon (Kirmani et al, 1994.p. 99). The conventional policy of free trade has been used as a model in international trade where economic goods are exempted from trade barriers such as tariffs and customs duties. With models such as European Monetary System, there has been the creation of a common currency; the euro, many countries are trying to integrate to create a common currency to ensure they are not affected by economic downturns and fluctuations of currency rates during international trading (Hinkelman, 2005, p. 68). EU opinion of national borders is not that of security and barrier towards national and welfare prosperity and so its inception was to challenge this traditional perception. Through such policies, the EU has facilitated the rise of both inter-industry and intra-industry trade within the region. In this case, the EU draws its agenda from larger regional interests. With each state with different or similar objectives, the only way to achieve them is through a systematic approach that respects each country’s interests, and at the same time, the interests of the counterpart country are realized (Chen, 2002, p. 2). In addition, the EU has been of greater significance in participation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and has shown that larger membership and larger representation of interests have much influence on international trade than a single country’s interests (Staab, 2008). From the above information, it is evident that EU influence on international trade is unmatched, the EU organization and mode of governance are explicit and commendable.

The economic success of the European Union is EU economic policies governing competition and internal markets. The EU has the responsibility to ensure that there is no unhealthy competition in its internal market. This is achieved through the regulation of competitions, merger approvals, economic liberalization, and resolving issues related to antitrust. The EU has the mandate to handle all foreign policies that concern its member states; this includes member states’ representation in United Nations and the G8 or G20 summits. EU is also to offer consultation services and advice regarding trade and financial management to the member states. The EU has been mandated to ensure that there are no barriers of trade that may hinder better trade relations of member counties in international trade. This is done through legislative policies that are within a standardized framework. The economic growth and development of Europe, especially the member states of the EU comes first as a key objective. This is harnessed through promotion of local industries and investors. The Common Agricultural policy is one of the significant economic aims behind the establishment of the European Union. The policy serves the sole purpose of enhancing agricultural production within the region. Other policies that play a significant role in determining the economic strength of the European Union include: the Energy policy; which attempts to diversify the supply of energy within the region. In terms of infrastructure, the EU is focusing on the implementation of transnational infrastructures within the region. Examples include the Trans-European Networks which is aimed at integrating the transport system within the member states.

The political structure of the EU plays a significant part in upholding its regional and global strength. The principle of EU governance is based on the competencies that were agreed during the signing of the treaties (Medrano, 2003, p. 225). It is evident that the political influence of the European Union within the region is unmatched. On a global perspective, its influence is yet to be realized. Internal political influence is primarily due to the fact that some governing policies override the national policies during implementation, thereby giving the union superiority compared to the sovereignty of a member state (Ginsberg, 2001, p. 46). This means that the member states will relinquish some of its internal affairs to the management of the European Union institutions. Despite its success in influencing regional politics, there has a number of drawbacks concerning the ways the member states adhere to the EU policies. Taking an example of the recent chasing away of the Romania immigrants from France was an example of how the EU may not have an influence in politics. In fact, these immigrants have not been welcomed in any of the European countries amid Romania and Bulgaria joining the European Union a few years ago. This has put the EU into crossroads; the EU position and policy of human rights and freedom of movement and settlement of Europeans in any country of choice have been contradicted by some member states such as France. It is evident that EU have started to lose it’s political glimpse as some of the European countries are seeking autonomy in some issues such as, EU stand on war against terror. An example is the division that was experienced on war against terror in both Afghanistan and Iraq by the United States. While some of the countries like Britain were more than ready to join in the war some other countries like Germany and France were more reserved into joining the campaign. EU involvement in Europe politics have also for along time been fiddled with the issue of losing national identity according to some pro-nationalist that are largely aligned to Britain, Spain and Germany (Medrano, 2003, p. 247). It is important to note that EU is not a state and so can not have a collective policy towards international politics or rather foreign policy. Obviously, this will render EU as political dwarf unless, its key policy on international relations and politics are based on a collective position (Roy, 2001, p. 9). However, Roy (2001) contradicts this argument by alleging that a political dwarf would not accomplish the success that EU has accomplished by reshaping the world view on trade and other key aspects as humanitarian aid. To be realistic political policies are shaped by strong stands on policies and good military co-operation and capabilities, an element that is yet to be seen in EU for so many years (Antonenko & Pinnick, 2005, p. 129). EU does not have a collective policy that concerns joint military efforts and so each member state is at libertyt o join non-European countries in international operations.

It is evident there the political objectives of the EU are long overdue to be realized. In the global arena, the political power of EU is not felt, primarily due to the divisions by the member states in terms of political perspectives. Key factors such as controlling the foreign policies, the defense policy; which are significant in upholding the political position of the EU are in the hands of the member states. It can be said the EU is federalized, however, the most critical dockets that can be used maintain its political power are at the disposal of the member states.


European Union cannot be overlooked in terms of economic strength. Its success is reputable and unrivaled in the whole world. In fact some of the key business and commerce practices and developments can be attributed to the EU perception on trade in our recent times. However, EU initial objective to be a key influencer in trade and politics within Europe and beyond Europe is only half achieved. It will take another few years before EU successfully integrate the whole of Europe and have a clear direction in both continental and international politics, but as for now it will remain a political dwarf, second to other economies like united states, China and Russia.


Antonenko, O., and Pinnick, K., 2005. Russia and the European Union: prospects for a new relationship. New York: Routledge.

Chen, N., 2002. Intra-national versus international trade in the European Union: why do national boarders matter? Washington: Center for economic policy research.

Cini, M., 2007. European Union politics. London: Oxford University Press.

Ginsberg, R., 2001. The European Union in international politics: baptism by fire. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.

Hinkelman, G., 2005.Dictionary of international trade: handbook of the global trade community includes 21 key appendices. Petaluma, CA: World Trade Press.

Kirmani, N., Calika N., and International Monetary Fund, 1994. International Trade Policies: Background papers. Washington: International Monetary Fund.

Medrano, J., 2003. Framing Europe: attitudes to European integration in Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom. Princeton, NJ: Princeton university press.

Staab, A., 2008. The European Union explained: institutions, actors, global impact. Indianapolis: Indiana university press.