Tag Archive: Member States


The European Union Aims to Banish Plastic Bags

On November 4, 2013, the European Commission approved a proposal that requires the Member States to reduce the use of lightweight plastic carrier bags by its citizens.  These bags are commonly used by consumers to carry items they purchase from stores.  The new amendments to Council Directive 94/62/EC, also known as the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, have two premises.  First, it requires the Member States to reduce the use of lightweight plastic bags with a thickness below 50 microns.  The most obvious example is lightweight plastic bags used at grocery stores.  The EU aims to eliminate the consumption of lightweight plastic bags that are not frequently reused.  Secondly, the directive gives the Member States different ways to implement the requirement.  Member States may use economic instruments such as taxes and levies.  Member States may also use national reduction targets and marketing restrictions.  Since this is a directive, Member States may choose how they want to transpose the amendments into their national law.  Member States may also issue a flat out ban.

The EU Environmental Commissioner stated:  “We’re taking action to solve a very serious and highly visible environmental problem. Every year, more than 8 billion plastic bags end up as litter in Europe, causing enormous environmental damage. ”  Last year, it is estimated that 100 billion plastic carrier bags were placed in the EU Market.  It is estimated that each EU citizen uses almost 200 plastic bags a year.  The consumption of plastic bags used in each Member State varies greatly with Denmark and Finland achieving four plastic bags per person and Poland, Portugal, and Slovakia achieving 466 plastic bags per person.  The objective of the amendments to the directive is to reduce plastic bag usage in the EU by eighty percent.

One of the main goals of the amendments is to alleviate environmental issues such as marine litter.  The accumulation of litter in the world’s oceans and  on the world’s coasts is a dangerous growing threat to the world’s ecosystems.  It takes close to 45o years for plastic to dissolve.  This mean litter attributable to humans like plastic accumlates in the ecosystems with no where to go.  Many animals are killed by getting tangled in the plastic or ingesting it.  Plastic has been found in the stomachs of endangered species of turtles and 94 percent of the birds in the North Sea.

 

 

 

Necessary Power? The Development of the European Union Military

The Common Security and Defense Policy, CSDP, could be said to have had its historical beginnings with the signing of the 1947 Treaty of Dunkirk. The treaty was signed by France and United Kingdom after World War II due to a possible with German threat. This treaty of ‘Alliance and Mutual Assistance” might be the first of its kind between European countries in an attempt to bind together in warding off enemy attacks.

In 1999, after the initial Dunkirk Treaty and through other treaties, meetings, and agreements  among the 27 Member States of the European Union, EU, the European Security and Defense Policy, ESPD, was established.  The goal of the ESPD was to ensure the security of Europe in the globalizing world and to formulate a united European international security strategy in order to deal with the growing threats facing the EU. Further, another goal was to support the EU’s “Common Foreign and Security Policy.” These growing dangers might be too much for a single Member State  to face alone. Unlike its predecessor, the European Security and Defense Identity (ESDI), the ESPD included Member States of the EU that were not members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO. In so doing, the ESPD, first, fell under the jurisdiction of Europe and second, created the first united Military strategy of the EU because non-NATO Member States of the EU were allowed to become members. In 2009, the Treaty of Lisbon came into force/effect. That effect brought with it a change in name of the “united strategy” from the ESPD to the CSDP.

Before its renaming in 2009, the ESPD carried out its first mission in 2003 following the 1999 declaration of intent of the Member States for the ESPD. This mission consisted of EU troops watching over the country of Macedonia due to tensions of different ethnic groups due to the consequence of the Kosovo War. Since then the EU military have completed missions in Africa, Asia, and Europe. These missions range from  humanitarian (Africa) to peacekeeping (Europe). The 27 Member States that make up the EU military have a combined military budget of 194 Billion Euros  for military expenditures and over 5 million military personnel (active and reserve). In fact, the CSDP has been compared  to the national strategy of the United States’ military.

The United States, unlike the EU, is one country. The EU consist of nations with their own military power, budget and personnel. Furthermore, the 27 Member States each have their own Heads of States who make decisions that, although helps their national interest, must conform with the standards of the EU, because failure to do so would destroy the purpose of the EU. However, there is much to be seen when a Member State has every right to abstain from a mission but is not allowed to do so. It would be interesting to see what the remedy to that dilemma would be. After all, the EU was created for a common market, but whether a unified military was a rightful side-effect of such is still left to be seen.

Ukraine’s Envy: The Process to Join the European Union

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych recently took his country’s plea to join the European Union to a worldwide platform. On August 25, he wrote an opinion piece that was published in the Wall Street Journal. The article, which focused on the economic and political history of the country, advocated for Ukraine’s admission into the European Union.

Unfortunately for President Yanukovych, Ukraine is more than one persuasive article away from joining the European Union. The Treaty on European Union (TEU) does not foreclose the idea of enlargement. Membership in the European Union results from a process that requires the participation of Member States, the European Commission, and prospective Member States. In fact, the TEU specifies conditions , known as the “Copenhagen Criteria” and a brief outline of the required steps a country must take in order to be considered for membership.

Potential candidates are those countries that have not yet met the Copenhagen Criteria. Countries classified as candidates are in the process of ensuring their laws and regulations align with those of the European Union. As the European Commission identifies countries that are nearing the requirements for entry, the countries are reclassified from “potential candidates” to “candidate countries.”

At this time, Ukraine is not listed as a potential candidate. This means that the European Commission is not persuaded Ukraine exhibits the fundamental values held by the citizens of the European Union. The methodical approach to enlargement ensures that there is mutual respect for the overarching values protected by the European Union, which can be found in Article 6 of the TEU. President Yanukovych needs to first assuage any concerns that the governmental values of Ukraine fail to align with those espoused in the TEU before he can expect to represent Ukraine on the European Council.

The European Commission has a thorough website that explains the process of application for EU membership in more detail.

 




Provide Website Feedback / Accessibility Statement / Privacy Statement