Expansion of Europe and Europe today
Although Margaret Thatcher had already raised the question of whether the UK benefited from its membership in the European Union and despite the failure to create a unified system of collective European security, independent of the NATO alliance, and an increase in Euroscepticism in the West, the European Community managed to create a common market and free flow goods, labour and capital in 1986.
This reaffirmed the sense of being European. With the adoption of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, the European community took the formal appearance, which is the most similar to the one we know – the European Union with 12 members (France, Germany, Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Denmark and the Republic of Ireland).
In addition to these, the countries of Scandinavia, Austria, Switzerland also belonged the West European circle of civilization and had a close cooperation with the European community in the past decades, and belonged to the free world, as well as some parts of Central Europe.
In 1995, Austria, Finland and Sweden entered the EU. The democratization of the former Eastern Bloc very quickly led to significant results.
Central European countries such as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and, in particular, Poland will experience great economic growth.
The transition made in these countries was very successful.
The countries which were synonyms for underdevelopment and poverty for forty years have become recognizable for their progress in just a little over a decade.
European development funds have been used in a pragmatic manner and a lot has been done to popularize European values.
Unlike the said countries, the former Communist Yugoslavia, which was an exception in the communist world because, unlike the “national democracies”, it was much more liberal and economically developed thanks to Western loans and forcing the third path through the Non-Aligned Movement, due to internal centrifugal forces after the de-monopolization of the Communist Party, was torn apart by a bloody civil war from 1991 to 1995.
Its territory will become home to new countries, of which Slovenia will be economically most advanced.
Most of the countries with the socialist background understood the advantages of the European way of functioning of the system and the quality of life, and quickly reoriented themselves to Europeanism.
Some countries have done so because of economic prospects, some because of the distance they wanted to have toward Russia, such as the Baltic countries.
This will result in their accession to the EU in 2004, which has been, at the same time, the largest enlargement of Europe so far, because at the same time, since ten countries joined the Union together. After that, three other countries that belonged to the former communist world (Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia) also joined the EU.
This expansion in membership has significantly complicated the European system, which has been upgraded and reformed each year in a way.
The old members that established the European system and made it a distinguishing one are not completely satisfied with the new look of the Union, which can be seen in the efforts of European leaders to pay particular attention to the issue of further development of the EU on a daily basis.
British referendum on which it was decided that Britain should leave the Union lead to a particularly complex situation in the EU. With Britain, or not, it is clear that the EU has its own identity, its horizons, but also its problems.
Although Europe has been uniting during the post-war decades, this continent has lost its global primacy After 1918, it became apparent that America and Russia assumed world domination.
In the meantime, forces like China had come closer to them and disturbed this bipolar world.
The growing presence of Chinese investors in the territories considered “European” is an indication of the new re-composition on the world stage.
Europe seems to be undermined by the Freudian “narcissism of small differences” which makes it torn between the glorious past and the uncertain future.
Its present frames are too narrow for the tradition it carries.
However, human rights and individual freedoms, cultural peculiarities and a pragmatic way of thinking are things that Europeans still cherish.
The last one hundred years have been everything but one hundred years of solitude.
Bound between America and Russia, Europe kept struggling and rose from the ash two times. It has learned so much from 1917 until today.
Cultural memory filled with imperialism and holocaust demanded a change of mind and view of the world.
As a result, the education system flourished and Europe began to promote tolerance.
Many “non-Europeans” and “Euro-sceptics” outside the EU, remain silent before the fact that the best universities are in Europe. They do regularly accept the European lifestyle as a civilization achievement.
This comfort of life in most of the countries of Western Europe is being preserved selfishly.
Despite the changes in education system, every single “upheaval” wakes up the intolerance code.
The current migrant crisis is the best indicator of the fact that we are tolerant only in cases where this tolerance should not be shown in action.
Since September 11, 2001, the common fear of terrorist attacks in the United States has become an integral part of European life.
Terrorist massacres across Europe act as a fuel for European radicalization.
Since Islamic extremists have been taking the responsibility for these killings, the anti-Muslim sentiment has rapidly increased in Christian Europe, with all this leading to the popularity of the right and nationalist movements.
In many countries, these already exceed 25% of voters’ support.
The future of security does not seem to be optimistic.
The hope remains on the experience between the two world wars that Europe has and from which it can learn a lot.
All European institutions that emerged after the Second World War were created to prevent mistakes from the past.
There is a segment which has not been mentioned in the course of this essay and which has been deliberately left for the end – globalization.
The phenomenon that appeared with the emergence of mass culture and production and intensified after 1989.
Globalization that erases cultural, racial and state boundaries rests on the exchange of ideas and economic experiences, leading to the strengthening of internationalism, but also to certain negative phenomena.
It is true that in the world of globalization, illiteracy is being reduced, life expectancy increases, poverty rates are being reduced, the standard of living improves, although, in contrast to these, there is a growing level of environmental destruction, the strengthening of international corporations and the reduction of workers’ rights, as well as a growing hegemony of consumer philosophy.
Joseph Stiglitz rightly named his renowned monograph “Globalization and its Discontents “.
The EU, as a community based on internationalism, could not be immune to globalist trends, so it became their promoter and their hostage.
Time will show how much and how globalization will change the European continent, but it is certain that this trend leads to more Europeans.
I honestly believe in Europe
As someone who comes from a country that is on the road to EU, I can see European advantages and disadvantages.
Taking into account the history of Montenegro, its disappearance in 1918, its revival in 1945, its restoration in 2006 as well as our socio-economic indicators, I believe that it belongs to the union.
Montenegro has been a part of the European cultural circle for millennia and its entire cultural heritage has European flavour.
Today, Montenegro is the state union of all its peoples who inhabit it, so entering the EU will be a continuation of the construction of the Montenegrin civil road.
For Europe has been overcoming all challenges and has always been returning to itself.
From the continent that used to send the “undesirable ones” to concentration camps to the continent on which LGBT population begins to enjoy the rights guaranteed by birth, Europe has become a brand in many ways.
And when thinking about its future, Europe should not be afraid of migrants but Europeans.