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European Union History and Laws

The History, Institutions and Laws of the European Union
Question 1 a)The economic losses as well as the human lives lost during the Second World War informed the earliest decisions by European leaders to form a union that would stem nationalistic fervor and pre-empt the occurrence of future wars amongst European states (Melnikas, 2012, p.151). In 1951, France and Germany formed the European Coal and Steel Community – a key first development in the future formation of the European Union. This community was formed with the express aim of pooling the economic resources (industrial production) of France and Germany together in order to stem unhealthy nationalistic competition between the two countries. The treaty of Rome of 1957 established a common economic community – the European Economic Community – that was then followed by the establishment of a customs union amongst several European countries in 1958. Other key developments include the establishment of single institutions to streamline the functions of the member countries in 1965, the adoption of the Euro in 1999, and the eastwards expansion of the EU in 2004, which saw eleven countries join the union.
b) The main political institutions of the EU are the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the European Commission. The EU Parliament consists of 754 elected members, and it is tasked with passing legislation and scrutinizing the union’s budget (Melnikas, 2012, p.152). The European Commission is the executive arm of the union, and consists of 27 members from each state. The Commission is tasked with the day-to-day running of the union, as well as proposing legislation. The Council of the European Commission is nominally the second entity in the overall parliamentary arch of the European Union. The council proposes laws and passes them. It consists of ministers in the individual states.
c) Article 234 of the European Union Treaty grants the European Court of Justice supremacy over individual member states courts and/or tribunals on matters hinged upon, or occurring within, the framework of the treaties that established the EU (Phelan, 2011, p.767). The 234/EC preliminary reference system tasks courts or tribunals within member states that are faced with decisions or judgments concerning EU laws to seek the opinion and judgment of the European Court of Justice before proceeding to deliver a verdict in order to avoid a clash of interpretive verdicts between member state courts and the European Court of Justice.

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