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The end of the World War II came with important developments among the nations that were involved in the conflict. The war came with very serious impacts on the economic, social, and political development of European nations. There was an urgent need for the formation of a collaborative framework among the affected nations in order to address the issues in comprehensive manner. At this point in time, no country could successfully address its problems alone and most of them were on the brink of undergoing complete collapse due to the changed socioeconomic climate. In this regard, the idea of forming a regional body became a necessity and each of the nation’s delegates had special interests to foster this new development. The European Commission (2007, p.5) supports that “at the time of its creation in the 1950s, the ambition of the EU was to bring together the nations and people of Europe as they emerged from the aftermath of World War II.” Thus, the European Union was formed with the sole aim of fostering the region’s social, political, and economic prospects by establishing systems and structures through which issues would be addressed in a better way.
First, at the end of World War II there was an urgent need for the European nations to embark on a competitive industrial process. The aim was to recover from the infrastructural damage that had affected majority of the member nations belonging to the European block. Even though World War II had ended, there were still strong fears lingering regarding possible occurrence of similar effects, which would sabotage the achievement of the development agenda: to recover from the war and avoid future frustrations. Keating (2004, p.199) observes that after the World War II there were still threats of possible retaliations, which raised concern regarding the national security levels. This implied that any nation looking forward to progress had to develop its own internal mechanism to subvert the attacks. Keating (2004, p.199) adds that “the threat of global nuclear war and the polarization of military blocs have generally reduced the potential and perception of national security.” This also implied that the security implications for national states would continue being a burden and a costly affair, which would undermine the projected development initiatives of each member state.
Second, after World War II, there was a major need to increase cooperation among member states in order to improve diplomatic relations. The World War II had a significant impact on the foreign policies of respective countries, partly due to the existing animosities over the impact of the war. Thus, forming a representative body was going to provide an avenue through nations would explore their views on certain critical issues. The move towards regionalism was an attempt by states to strengthen regional control because the traditional centralized control supported by sovereign states was not functional enough to achieve collective bargain on certain issues that were seen as critical for development (Telo 2007, p.7). This implies that after World War II, there are those European nations that still considered themselves powerful than their counterparts. This seriously affected the possibility of less powerful nations to achieve their development objectives because of the declined association. Hence, the European Union provided a desirable platform through which it would be possible to address some of these inequalities brought by the conflict.
Third, World War II had a significant impact on the probability of economic integration. There was a high risk that member states would start seeking other trading partners by forming new continental or national alliances in geographical settings out of Europe. This would decrease the trade potential between states belonging to Europe and would have an impact on the sustainability of Europe’s economic potential. In this regard, there was need to invite representatives from the affected member countries such as Germany in order to formulate influential policies. In this regard, formation of the European Union provided a definite avenue to formulate foreign policies, which would maximize bilateral trade relationships while minimizing frictions among the member states (Hostetler 2006, p.156). It was perceived that this would have a positive impact in reducing the level of animosity among the European member states by introducing newer continental objects that focused on boosting the trade potential in the continent. Since the World War II had created serious rifts among the European member states, the new union would also provide an opportunity for new alignments while old alignments would also be renewed to increase the probability of achieving better trade potential.
Fourth, when the war came to an end, a decision was made to promote peaceful mechanisms of solving disputes. The destruction that had been witnessed was beyond so extensive that it destabilized normal life processes in the affected European countries. As a result, European countries changed their strategy by focusing on multilateral solutions that were based on the international rule of law (Hostetler 2006, p.58). This called for the establishment of an institutional framework that would be used to uncover and address underlying problems in a consultative manner. Consequently, this led to the formation of the European Union as an organ that would be used to promote cooperation while spurring long term recovery efforts after the World War II. Additionally, through the European Union, member states would abide to international organizations such as the United Nations. According to Hostetler (2006, p.58), “many Europeans claim that it is precisely because they have abided by such rules and worked cooperatively together in institutions such as the European Union and United Nations that they have enjoyed decades of unprecedented peace and prosperity.” Hence, World War II provided an opportunity for European nations to become a solid block focused purely on developmental issues affecting the continent.
Fifth, the fact there was a winning side and a losing side in the aftermath of World War II, some European nations felt superior more than others. As a result, it became apparent that establishing regional balance was going to be a nightmare. This was more complicated by the fact that there still pending issues regarding liability with regard to war crimes. Thus, in order to achieve regional cohesion, there most suitable option was to promote common interests through the European Union. Regionalism was intended to limit the probability of future defragmentation and disintegration from taking place, especially those resulting from strife between nations, ethnic fundamentalism, and the determination of some members to establish themselves as superior members of a community (Telo 2007, p.7). To establish this concept of regionalism, various incentives had to be offered to all member states in order to ensure that there was genuine interest. In essence, before World War II, regionalism as a concept had been witnessed in other continents such as Asia and the United States, and from these examples the United States provided the best example of how regionalism could motivate economic growth and prosperity among different nations. Wagstaff (1999, p.14) remarks that the concept used in forming the European Union intended to promote interregional cooperation by establishing a transnational collaborative framework and reducing elements of idealism.
Sixth, there was a tendency to move towards globalization after the World War II. This meant that European nations became more concerned about respecting international treaties that had been disobeyed initially. This tendency to disobey previous international treaties is what contributed to the poor relations existing among some of the European nations. Wunderlich (2007, p.25) remarks that the post World War II period led to new ways of fostering international relations among European nations. This is primarily because there were many unresolved issues that needed to be addressed through international arrangements. Thus, members belonging to the European Union had to subscribe to specific requirements in order to eliminate discordance with the international community.
Seventh, World War II provided a basis for the establishment of new political dimensions. Before the war took place, it was primarily initiated by the political tensions between European nations at the time (Mansfield & Milner 1999, p.597). The political tension was strongly driven by the need for some European nations to safeguard resources that had been acquired through their imperialistic activities. The political tension experienced during World War II was severely heightened level compared to the tension experienced during World War I (Mansfield & Milner 1999, 597). As a result, there was a general move by most parties to reduce the political tension to avoid similar conflicts in the future. More specifically, this changed the concept of leadership among the European Union member states. There was enormous interest to adopt leadership initiatives that were premised on better ideologies. Hence, former ideologies that preferred armed conflict were strongly discouraged. World War II inspired a new ideological perspective on leadership that focused establishing a new platform of selecting leaders that would foster integration of the European community. Initially, the political ideologies had promoted transnational competition to such a level that the existing trust system was completely disintegrated. Hence, the new practice of politics inspired by World War II sought to renew the trust system among European nations, while fostering cooperation among them.
Eighth, the economic downturn that was experienced during World War II was part of the reason why European nations decide to form a union. According to Mansfield and Milner (1999, p.597) “in the interwar period, by contrast, discriminatory trade blocs and protectionist bilateral arrangements contributed to the severe contraction of world trade that accompanied the Great Depression.” This had very destructive effects on the trade potential of most European nations. The depression seriously destabilized majority of the European nations involved in the war because most of them were highly industrialized. The declining trade potential implied that it was no longer economically feasible to support the war. It also implied that industrial activities would be halted because there was massive destruction of infrastructure in some areas. In this regard, the European Union provided an opportunity for promoting trade among partners of the EU, and other continental areas such as East Asia (Mansfield & Milner 1999, p.598). In this regard, the European Union would be used as an important tool to represent the interests of Europe in other continents, consequently fostering stronger trade partnerships to expand the international market. Additionally, the European Union would provide an integrated resource pool through which members would enjoy extensive trade relations with other parts of the world. This common objective would enable their economies to recover from the effects of the Great Depression, which had taken a toll on the continent’s resources.
Ninth, World War II led to the development of a unified system of governance that span across affected European nations and was enabled by formation of the European Union. The new system of governance was primarily intended to streamline leadership objectives in different nations taking account their ideological differences, culture, political system, and economic system (Gandhi 2006, p.67). By recognizing these fundamental differences among European member states, it would be possible to promote cohesion and common interest. The system of governance would also give ultimate focus on important issues such as territorial integrity, establishing new taxation initiatives, and recognizing regional bodies that represent special interests such as trade (Hendricks 2007, p.23). As a result, the system of governance that was promoted ensured that members of the European Union could access special channels to address arising issues without causing friction between parties. Presently, the existing interrelationship among European member states and other supranational organizations portray effective organization in various levels of governance albeit with a certain level of complexity (Heffen, Kickert, & Thomassen 2000, p.3). Therefore, despite the level of complexity brought about by the system of governance of European Union, the national governments have remained committed to its virtues.
Finally, it is important to acknowledge that the aftermath of the World War II led to the development of numerous structural changes in Europe through formation of the European Union. This organ inspired the formulation and adoption of new economic models that were intended to safeguard the future of Europe. The level of destruction and disintegration that had taken place changed the political ideology that had for a long time guided the nations into unnecessary war. Furthermore, there was a strong move towards globalization that saw new policies being adopted to promote better international relations. Formal recognition was also given to the unique attributes of each European member and there was a move towards establishing a common framework to promote better distribution of economic gains. Indeed, the World War II played a major role in the formation of the European Union.