So formidable and important is the politics of Europe that the outcome of the same has been seen to have profound effect on world politics and international relations, diplomacy and trade. The developments that took place in Europe such as the Napoleonic Revolution, the 1825 Metternich System (also known as the Concert of Europe or the Congress System), the 1885 Berlin Conference and the Scramble and Partition for Colonies are all seen as having made inroads into World War I, II, and the creation of the United Nations and the attempt at the present day unification of Europe. The integration of Europe has been a value that has been hard to come by, given that as a global effort, it is underpinned by both forces of both globalization and fragmentation.
One of the underpinnings that affects the reality and integration of Europe is that of globalization. Simply put, globalization is the decoupling of time and space so that there is the decrease in the importance of geographical and territorial boundaries, and this development being spurred on by technological advancement, especially in the Information Technology (IT) sector. On the other hand, forces that pull towards fragmentation include terrorism and religious extremism, competitive state and ideological interests, race and culture, the economic disparity between the states in Europe, among others.
Above all, it is important to take stock of the fact that among these forces of fragmentation that block Europe from realizing its full unity are mostly underpinned by political relations, guidelines and policies. Policies of the past have also been major causes of conflict in Europe today, with racial conflicts of today being a reaction of the policies of the civic police in the 70's and the 80's (Birmingham and Leicester pp 9).
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The emergence and triumphing of democracy (particularly the liberal form of democracy) at the expense of communism is seen to have heralded some of the forces that support the fragmentation of Europe, as opposed to its integration. Liberal democracy calls, for instance for liberal polices across all the spheres of existence, including, economy and the media.
Europe in general has always vouched for liberal democracy, and by extension, for the liberalization of the media. The liberalization of the media maintains that the government desists from the control of the media, so that instead, it is the media moguls and the owners of the media empires who have a greater say in the operations of the media. On the other hand, Islamic nations and Arabic countries have always seen the vouching of this advancement as an effort to introduce and entrench pornography and immorality therein. This development has been successful in eliciting opposition from Islamic and Arabic nations, including those that are in Europe. In the same wavelength, Islamic countries continue to see liberalization of the media as a boon for the exposure of the Ummah to infoganda and infomercials to the perceived benefit of Western Europe and the United States.
Conversely, the incompatibility of Europe because of liberalism is evidenced by economic liberalism. Economic liberalism calls for the liberalization of the market, as a way to the realization of the free market. Free market always calls for the government to desist from controlling the market and regulating prices. On the contrary, the creation of the free market requires that the prices be set and controlled by the market forces. Europe has already managed to gain a free market. Focus is whether Europe shall be able to go beyond the economic integration. As noted by McCarthy, (6), lack of political cohesion shall impede the success of group.
As a way of ensuring that free market is totally a reality, it has been recommended that governments open up their borders for foreign products as a way of allowing competition in the international market. Nevertheless, these provisions as advanced under the banner of free market have always been opposed by other nations, as these nations see the same as a conduit for the siphoning of their resources by the developed countries in Europe. Among the underpinnings that are opposed by the Islamic and Arabic nations in the free market is the idea that: governments abolish the provision of subsidies to players in local markets and the abolition of tariffs
The abolition of the exaction of tariffs has also been seen as the bane of equality among different players in Europe. This is because in Europe, there are countries which have always seen the exaction of tariffs on exotic products as a source of revenue. This has always caused a sense of incongruence among states in Europe as others have desisted from giving subsidies and exacting tariffs while others have not.
It must be remembered that while in Europe, reputable and leading countries such as France, Britain, Germany and Italy have accepted democracy as a form of political dispensation and the upholding of human rights and freedoms as the integration of this democracy into a country's social spectrum, there are countries that do not ascribe to the same ideals. It is in the same Europe where there are people clamoring for the entrenchment of the Sharia Law as the way of life, politically, economically and socially. Above these, these pockets see constructs of international politics such as the integration of Europe as only legitimate and tenable if run by the Al Mahdi or the Khalifa (Schmidt, 75).
Competing interests of countries in Europe have also been seen as an element that has more often than not, derailed the successful integration of Europe. It is by this virtue that a developed country like Russia may proceed to attack Georgia as was witnessed in 2008 and accord Iran with nuclear materials and knowhow, while contravening the provisions of the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
While key members of European Union such as France, Germany, Italy and Canada are members of NATO and as such, sworn and permanent allies to the US, other key players in European politics such as Russia have until 2010 remained outside NATO agreements, membership and meetings on the account that it was US' archenemy at the height of the 1945-1990 Cold War. NATO countries in Europe always seek to have the US as an ally and protector of their interests, while the US and Russia continue to view each other with suspicion.
Governments have interest in the survival of the industries in the countries since collapsing means that many people that were employed in such industries would be rendered jobless and thus escalating the problem of unemployment in the country. The collapsing of the industries would mean that the local consumers would not access goods and services and thus they would end up importing goods from the foreign countries that were initially produced in their countries; the importation of goods in the country would leas to foreign dominance and overreliance of the foreign goods in the domestic economy. From the above arguments the government is justified in imposing tariffs on the foreign companies offering goods in the domestic markets.
Common market involves an agreement that aims at removing all the barriers that prohibit movement of capital, people, and other factors of production among the countries that have entered into the economic integration agreement. The last and the deepest stage of the economic integration is the Economic union which involves harmonizing the monetary policies of the countries in the region which seeks economic integration; these monetary policies may include policies on labor, transportation and the development in the region (McCarthy 5). Economic union also requires that the countries within the region adopt a common currency. As noted by Liebscher, (2), Europe has benefited from the adoption of the euro which strategically places the block in a better competitive position. However, the fact that some of the countries within the block have failed to institute the fiscal policies regarding the euro may be used as an indication that Europe is far from integrating (Liebscher 2).
The last stage of economic integration; Economic Union in Europe was successfully realized in 1999. The economic integration in Europe is known as European Union. There are numerous advantages that are offered by the realization of European Union but there are also disadvantages that come with the economic integration. The advantages of European Union to members' countries include offering market to the goods and services that are produced in the region. Due to the size of the European Union, the goods produced by the member countries have a ready market.
Where integration has been recorded, it seems to focus on the commonalities. Cultures unite where they are common leaving behind what they consider uncommon to them. The areas of non commonalities are known to lead to the feelings of isolation and competition which may be one of the reasons why Europe has remained disintegrated. Scitovsky cites the difficulties of integrating policies such as the employment policy (97) and a unified capital market authority (96) as a major problem towards Europe integration.
The signing of the treaty in 1957 in Rome that led to the establishment of the European Commission and from which the initiation of the European integration started, the European world has undergone drastic and rapid irreversible process that can be termed to as secularization (Rohe 49). One can even opt to say that this signing has led to the emergence of a European nation that is post Christian. Similarly, the drafting of the European constitution and the expansion of Europe eastwards have played and triggered a number of queries in relation to the identity of Europe and the role Christianity has played in this identity. Turkey which is a Muslim country despite it being in Europe and its integration to the European Commission and the integration of immigrants who are not Europeans especially Muslims since they constitute the highest percentage of non European immigrants has constantly elicited anxiety. The uneven and progressive secularization of Europe is an undisputable social issue. A very high percentage of Europeans have ceased from participating in ancient tradition practices that were considered religious since their time in memorial. Most of them have opted to participate in private religious practices instead of the past practices that were communal; in fact the Europeans can be termed to as the individualization of religious practices instead of secularization of the European community
Muslims can be categorized into two distinct classes, those who have successful material life but still maintain a healthy religious life and the second class constitutes those Muslims that are materially oppressed and have fallen victims of the pressures that originate from economic down turn, poverty and unemployment. This has led to the emergence of a factor that is eager to use those Muslim brothers that are faced with the effects of the economy to service and garnish heir selfish wants. These groups of people are known to be experts when I come to the issues of brainwashing the other persons as they claim that the entire world is joining forces to eradicate the Muslims from existence. This is despite it being a false fact; it is surprisingly that the Muslims who form the second largest religious group after Christians openly accept to be used. This is an indication of how radical and staunch fanatics are greedy and there is to want more for themselves at the expense of the innocent victims who fall prey to their selfish ambitions. In fact what the radicals have formed is coming up with their own set of sharia laws which they are trying to impose on every single Muslim.
Muslims do not want to corporate with Christians while the Christians don't want to corporate with the Jews, while the Jews view traditional faiths and other faiths as inferior. The end result is that ant the end of the period, a vicious cycle of counter detestation is created making it hard for any benefit to be realized as far as integration of Europe is concerned. Due to Muslim terrorist, the Islam in Germany as well as other parts of Europe is looked with a suspicious eye (Holmgren pp 4).
Europe is also a place where there are various races. As a matter of fact, there are all races in various parts of Europe, who have finally become bona fide citizens in the continent through various means. As an instrument of personal identity, various races are keen on aspects such as their origins, their beliefs there traditions among many other facets of culture that the races are keen to have. For integration of Europe to be a success there is the need to have deliberate deviations from these cultural identities for the sake of integration. Europe has indeed undergone some developments as far as cultures are concerned. However, the pace of this deviations especially at the grassroots levels is taking place at a very slow rate such that the concept of integration is put into question should the pace remain static. Rohe (46) cites the problem of language barriers such as the poor mastery of other languages by the Muslims in Europe as one of the cultural barriers to the integration of Europe. Though in written law Europe has a common eye to all cultures and races, there are some races that feel that they are marginalized.