Dr. Birchfield began the lecture today by asking our class to give the key highlights from yesterday’s lectures. Cue, blank stares and students flipping through their notes. Fortunately, Dr. Birchfield helped us out and asked who the five people from the Schuman documentary were. The five founders were Monnet, Schuman, Spaak, Gasperi, and Adenauer. Our lectures mostly focused on Monnet and Schuman, but it was cool to hear about the other founders and see how their backgrounds shaped the creation of the European Union. It was also noted that the Post-WWII order shaped the EU in focusing on democratic principles. Next, a student commented on the theme of the European Union as a political or economic institution. While the EU has many economic components such as the ECB and single monetary market, there’s also political components such as common EU citizenship. Some only see the EU as an economic institution, but I believe the EU is both an economic and political institution as the economic components are a result of the political structure of the EU. This opinion of mine was further iterated when Dr. Birchfield later commented that the EU has legislative, judicial, and executive bodies just as any democratic government has.

Next, Dr. Birchfield started the new lecture topic: From SEA (The Single European Act) to TEU(The EU or Maastricht Treaty). She opened an explanation of two acronyms which are the 4 Is and 4 Cs. The 4 Cs have a definite order which are cooperation, consensus, compromise, and crisis. Cooperation is the willingness to assemble. Consensus is the decision-making process and a guiding principle of the EU. Compromise, the most integral step, is an agreement achieved by each side making concessions. Lastly, there is crisis like the refugee crisis. The 4 Is (interests, ideas, institutions, and individuals) are in no particular order as the students were asked to pick and justify his or her chosen order. My order is interests, individuals, ideas, and institutions. I am an economist at heart, so I believe that interests drive individuals. Individuals produce ideas, and these ideas result in the creation of institutions. Some people argue that ideas go before interests, but I think that interests guide and influence ideas.

After our discussion over the acronyms, we briefly covered the ESCS (European Steel and Coal Communities) and Rome Treaties. The ESCS was the marvel idea to have joint production of Germany and France’s coal and steel and set prices. It was a huge success despite the slight overproduction. The Rome Treaties of 1957 established the Euroatom which reflects the political nature of the EU and the EEC reflects the economic nature of the EU. In respect to the political vs economic debate, Thatcher and CDG regarded the EU as an economic institution. On the other hand, Delors and Shuman saw the EU as both and a supranational federation. I agree with Delors and Shuman because I believe that the EU as a supranational federation enables the 4 freedoms of the EU.

Then, we went over the Single European Act created by Delors. It aimed to prepare and create a single market. Its most important features are relaxed passport controls, more common policies, competition policy, and equal rights on gender. Delors also formed the EMU which laid the groundwork for the euro through the establishment of the ECB and convergence requirements. I think the ECB as an independent federal bank is vital to a function single market. However, I question how the convergence requirements were enforced because some countries like France and Germany could not agree if it should be enforced before or after the introduction of euro. Dr. Birchfield also discussed the Maastricht Treaty which she argued is the “cornerstone in articulating the EU.” It utilized the three-pillar system, created the common European citizenship, and principle of subsidiary. I find the principle of subsidiary quite unique and efficient because it allocates policy making authority to the level that would be most efficient and produce the most benefits. Most importantly, the Maastricht Treaty led to the creation of the euro which stabilized prices. I found it quite surprising that complete euro circulation took about 10 years, but it makes sense because there were so many currencies that needed to be taken out of circulation. At this point in the day, we took a break from lecture to pick up our bikes!

Next, the Amsterdam Treaty of 1997 was enacted. It demonstrated the interest of social Europe and idea of Common Foreign and Security Policy(CFSP). The Social Europe component made provisions for those negatively affected by globalization while the CFSP focused on coordination trade and commercial policy. In 2001, the Nice Treaty was implemented in order to prepare for the 5th enlargement. It mainly included institutional changes such as how many MEPs each member state would get. Dr. Birchfield noted that the Nice Treaty was poorly designed. I did some research and discovered that the treaty failed to address the incorporation of the Charter of Fundamental Human Rights which added to the issue of a lack of solidarity on positions. The complicated pillar structure was kept which inhibits some transparency. Furthermore, the treaty did not endorse constructive compromise over bargaining. Bargaining instead of compromise directly violates the second and third Cs: consensus and compromise. Consequently, bargaining continues to be an issue in the EU leading to an inability to cope with crises such as Greece’s financial collapse.

Following the Nice treaty, we briefly covered the Lisbon Treaty which eradicated the three-pillar system and make the EU more democratic. The EP and Council were given more power in order to counterbalance against the Commission. I find this change evidence of the EU’s democratic nature as it limits the executive’s power. Limiting the executive’s power is a fundamental principle of Lijphart’s majority consensus model. Like Dr. Birchfield, I find the EU to be democratic. However, there can be improved transparency and encouragement of citizen participation. I find the eurosceptics akin to revolutionaries who want to scrap everything and start over. I, on the other hand, am a reformer. The EU has a lot of great aspects, and problems that can primarily be resolved through reforms. It is wasteful to destroy a beneficial institution because of a few flaws. I think the convenience of the euro, EU citizenship, and prosperity of inter-trade benefit so many people, including the eurosceptics. Hopefully, the eurosceptics realize this and are willing to compromise.