In fact, the European Union is expressly designed to create new
opportunities by unifying the economies and peoples of its member
states. It generates new opportunities in both the economic and
A. ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES
Most notably economically, the EU has created countless new
opportunities for trade and investment. It has done so because it is
the world?s largest single integrated market, now even further unified
by a single currency (the Euro):
?For most commercial purposes, there is now one frontier instead of
individual frontiers for each member state; standards, testing, and
certification procedures are either uniform or equivalent; and
significant economies of scale are attainable in a market of over 370
million consumers?soon a half-billion. The combination of economic
liberalization and monetary integration boosts the competitiveness of
European companies while making it easier and cheaper for non-EU
companies to do business in Europe?
?The euro consolidates and extends Europe's single market. By removing
transaction costs and completely eliminating currency transactions in
the euro-zone, trade and investment are greatly facilitated?.
"The euro creates new opportunities in the financial sector. The
market capitalization of stocks traded in a country or region divided
by that region?s GDP is a common indicator of the importance and size
of an equity market. The euro area?s ratio of market capitalization to
GDP gained significantly in the 1990s. From 1990 to 1995, the ratio
hovered around 25 percent and was remarkably lower than that in Japan
or the United States. However, by 2000, the overall growth in the euro
area?s stock market resulted in an increase in this ratio to 89
percent, topping Japan?s 68 percent.?
To summarize: Goods, capital and people can move easily and freely
within the EU because it is a single market with a single currency.
This creates all kinds of new and enlarged economic opportunities for
member countries and their citizens.
In addition to providing a free-trade, single-currency framework for
economic growth, the EU also gives direct payments and ?seed money? to
create new growth opportunities, especially in poorer member states.
(There is a vast disparity between the wealth of member states like
Germany and the UK, and the wealth of countries like Portugal, Greece
and the new eastern European members.)
Ireland, for example, was one of the poorest members of the EU when it
first joined. But it is now one of its most prosperous. Not only did
Ireland greatly benefit from new access to the whole EU market,
(especially for its agricultural products), but it also benefited from
direct EU subsidies.
?Ireland 's membership of the EU has made an important contribution to
our economic development , including through direct transfers, though
these are of declining importance, and, more importantly, due to the
economic opportunities offered by the Single Market of 370 million
people," the Irish government has declared.
"The Single Market: the most obvious economic benefit of membership of
the Union has been the unhindered access it allows to a market of some
370 million people. This has in turn required an adjustment of the
economy to international competition. Membership has contributed to
rapid progress in a range of areas including the development of
agriculture, industry and services."
Currently, the new eastern European member states are also benefiting
from EU agricultural subsidies, like Ireland once did. These payments
are designed to support their agricultural sectors while they strive
to improve their efficiency, productivity and competitiveness and
bring them up to the levels of western member states--to help them
level the playing field, in other words.
Incidentally, Ireland still receives direct transfers from the EU, but
less than formerly:
?Since joining the E.U. in 1973 Ireland has received over ?17 billion
in E.U. Structural and Cohesion Funds support (to end 2003). Under the
current programming period 2000-2006, Ireland will receive ?3.35
billion from the Structural Funds. The Cohesion Fund contributed ?586m
to Ireland during the period 2000-2003.?
Here is a list of projects getting funded by the EU in Ireland,
because they will promote further economic opportunity and growth:
Amazingly enough, even nations who are applying for membership receive
aid in order to help them become more competitive. There are currently
four ?candidate? nations?Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Turkey.
Together they will receive 39.1 billion euros in farm subsidies
between 2004 and 2006.
This creation of new economic opportunities operates on the micro as
well as on the macro level. The Europa site, sponsored by the EU, is
probably the best single general source of information about the EU.
This page on the site gives you some idea of the kind of projects that
the EU underwrites in all member states (not just the poorer ones) to
generate new economic opportunity and growth on the local level:
Finally, in the economic area, it is important to remember that the EU
allows not only for the freer exchange of good and money but also the
opportunity for citizens of member countries to more easily work and
live in other member countries. In other words, labor moves more
freely within the EU and as a consequence an individual?s economic
horizons broaden considerably.
2. CULTURAL AND OTHER OPPORTUNITIES.
The best general sources of information about all the activities of
the EU?-including its many cultural, educational and social ones--are
the EU's own site, as I have mentioned:
AND this one, which has many good links as well:
Probably the greatest cultural impact of the EU has been on the minds
of young people who have grown up thinking of themselves as European,
with a greater array of opportunities before them because of this.
Economic expansion has occurred because of the EU, without question,
but so too has MENTAL expansion. It?s a bigger and more promising
world for the citizens of all the member countries, thanks to the EU.
I hope my answer gives you the perspective and information you needed.
All the best,
search terms used:
European Union economic impact
European Union member country economic growth