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European Union Overview

Produced by Raymond Crawford, Cleveland High School, 2000

Day I: Introduction

European Union Overview:
The European Union is a collection of independent states with common goals and concerns. Several common problems as well as several common solutions bind the confederation together. The first concern is economic. The European community has several different currencies and various rates of exchange. To unify the European community one of the first goals involves a standardization of exchange rates. This is best done through a device that would lock exchange rates based on a common currency. The Euro-dollar best meets this need, but many problems have surfaced when this solution was first proposed. Each member state has developed their own currency through a process based on the needs of their people and a belief that their currency best reflects the uniqueness of their people. Furthermore, each member state wants to maintain control over the valuation of their currency. Countries believe that to submit their currency to forces outside their control is to forfeit their sovereignty. England believes that the common goals of the European Union are essentially sound, but reject the use of a common currency. It is not surprising that other countries have various concerns that mirror those of England.

Trade barriers would not exist in the European Union and therefore outsiders would be hindered by price fluctuations within the union. The undue pressure on trading nations would establish price fixing within the union. Much of the non-member states would have to align their prices based on the prices set within the union. It would create a problem in other states that could not export goods to countries within the union and might destabilize a country's economy. Competition for markets has been an ever-present problem in Europe. The conditions of confederation would need to address these concerns. Competition for market share could destabilize the financial pillars of some of the nation state members.

National citizenship is the next area of concern for the European Union. Each member state has established a national identification device to ensure that their citizens are identified as members of. a certain state. The European Union has an identification plan that would identify each person as a member of the European community and identify that person's member state. This concept would allow people to move freely from one state to another without passports or other identification requirements. With free mobility within Europe, problems could surface concerning right to work laws, social benefits, medical care, land ownership, and a mixed bag of legal concerns. This concept also challenges the sovereignty of member nations.

Importation of varied cultural norms is also part of the concerns of the union. The cultural norms that helped establish the individual states in antiquity are the very same norms that a causing people to question the validity of a European Union. The differences are striking. Italians in southern Europe do not share the same beliefs as Danes in the north. Each major religion is represented in Europe as well as many minor religions. It might be understated to say that much of the strife that has raged through Europe has been as a direct result of religious differences. Certainly, no one cause can explain the reasons that war has raked over Europe many times over, but one constant theme is the idea of fundamental differences of cultural groups. The European Union concept might be the best chance for these varied groups to unify.

Unification will add stability where little or none existed before. Most literature on the subject supports the idea in principle, but much can also be stated concerning the differences that all the member states will need to overcome. The effort to unify requires much of its members, but the Rewards seem to be justified. Time will be the ultimate judge.

Assignment:

1. As a class, you must design a country. It will be a middle size country and its location in near proximity to the European Union will be decided by class vote. You will hold elections to choose a leader and a legislative branch. Additionally you will select three members of class to serve as a high court.

2. You will establish an economy that is consistent with your neighbor countries. You will need to invest the money you get from the World Bank into infrastructure to support your economy.

3. Your leader will assign each member of the class into groups that will act as his/her advisor in every area required to promote your country in such a way as to gain admission into the E.U.

4. Each group will draft reports to the leader and provide information on countries that are boarder states to your country. Additionally, there will be a report generated to reflect the current status of each country that holds membership status in the E.U.

5. The leader will appoint a person to generate a flow chart showing the various offices within your government and their responsibilities. The leader will assign such offices as he/she feels will satisfy the model of a modern state.

6. The voters will vote on a currency and the rate of exchange with other European countries.

7. You will select a flag committee and design a country flag for your nation.

8. The leader and his/her advisors will establish a demographic chart of the country. There will be at least two major religions and three ethnic groups in these demographics.

9. Committees will generate a topographic map of the country. Additionally they will generate a report that depicts the site and situation of the country.

10. Check the following grading sheet to find out how each project will be graded.

11. I will keep a running total of grades during the course of this exercise. NO ONE GETS A FREE RIDE. NO WORK MEANS NO GRADE.

12. There is a lot of work that is going to be required for this project. You may want to exchange home phone numbers with your group. It is up to you, but homework assignments will go a lot smoother if you have some one to call with questions. You must address all questions to your leader first while in class. I will only help you as a group. Group members need to help each other as much as possible. I will assist the leader as much as possible to set things up, but the responsibility for reports, charts, demographic information, and governmental decisions is yours.

13. This constitutes a major research effort on your part. The research methods you use will have a direct bearing on the quality of your work. We will review proper research techniques as questions arise; however you alone are responsible for the accuracy of the information you provide to your group and to your government officials. False or misleading data can have disastrous effects on your country and your grade.

14. Grading:

Every assignment will be signed by the leader of the group and by the leader of your country.
Every person that provided input to a report will have his/her name on it.
Group grades will be on a chart and up-dated every two or three days.
All raw data will be held by the group leader and submitted with reports.
Charts, reports, and demographic information will be graded using the following scale:

Correct and complete data.

  • Neatness
  • Format
  • Punctuality
  • Proof of individual effort

The highest grades will go to the group or groups that perform at the highest levels. Remember that this is your country and it is up to you to gain access to the European Union. Your countrymen are depending on you to ease their financial and political burdens. Give it your best shot.

15. Reports on finance, military expense, infrastructure, GDP, and adherence to European Union rules are expected weekly. You may use any database you wish, but you must be consistent.

16. Weekly reports will be graded and returned the following Monday. You may use the data to establish new policies, enact laws, change official position, enter into treaties etc, but you must pay back the loans you took out from the World Bank.

17. No single effort. I need you to work together. If someone in your group is not pulling their weight, contact the leader of your country. His/her censure will constitute a failing grade for the day. Three censures will constitute a failing grade for the entire unit. (three weeks work) I need not tell you that this will have a devastating effect on your course grade. If you are unhappy with your group, see the leader for a change of assignment. His/her word will be final in these matters. I will not intervene unless there is an obvious reason to do so. Remember that your job is to be productive and to get along with your group members. You need not like these people personally, but you must use your people skills to complete the assignment.

18. The key to success is cooperation. You may have good ideas that do not get used in a report, but you can not let that detour you from giving your best effort. Remember that world leaders grapple with these same problems every day. Do your best and let the work speak for itself.

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