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Less than 21 years after the end of the First World War, the Second World War broke out in September 1939 when on the third day of that month the United Kingdom and France declared war on Germany, which had invaded Poland two days earlier. The Second World War would last for nearly six years (although some historians consider the war to have started in Asia in 1937), and all of Europe was ravaged. The Allies, principally the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union, emerged as victors, while the Axis Powers, led by Germany and Japan (Italy had surrendered to the Allies in 1943) were defeated. After two world wars that had decimated the continent of Europe in little more than thirty years, leading politicians believed that a supranational body needed to be created to bring a permanent form of peace to Europe. After the First World War, there was a failed attempt led by US President Woodrow Wilson to create a global League of Nations. After the Second World War, in 1945, the intercontinental organization designed to bring peace and security to the world, the United Nations, was established. However, those in Europe wanted to create a pan-European movement due to European countries’ historical, cultural, economic, and social ties. Such a union of European countries would also make it easier to for the United States to administer aid to the countries it had agreed to financially help with the Marshall Plan. The origins of the European Union started with a bilateral treaty signed by France and Britain in 1947. Through a number of treaties, the alliance among Western European countries grew in strength and power to encompass economic, political, and social ideals. The first formal organization, the European Coal and Steel Community comprising six countries, gave way to the more cohesive organization the European Economic Community, which in turn was a forebear to the European Union. During this evolution the European confederate project continued to grow in geographical size, economic cohesion, and shared political beliefs. Today, the European Union now has 27 member countries and a population of nearly 450 million, with shared political institutions, a common economic market, an international currency in circulation in the majority of member states, and a commitment to peace, democracy, justice, and human rights.
Menos de 21 anos após o fim da Primeira Guerra Mundial, a Segunda Guerra Mundial eclodiu em Setembro de 1939 quando, no terceiro dia desse mês, o Reino Unido e a França declararam guerra à Alemanha, que tinha invadido a Polónia dois dias antes. A Segunda Guerra Mundial duraria quase seis anos (embora alguns historiadores considerem que a guerra teve início na Ásia em 1937), e toda a Europa foi devastada. Os Aliados, principalmente os Estados Unidos, Grã-Bretanha, França e União Soviética, emergiram como vencedores, enquanto as Potências do Eixo, lideradas pela Alemanha e Japão (a Itália tinha-se rendido aos Aliados em 1943) foram derrotadas. Após duas guerras mundiais que tinham dizimado o continente europeu em pouco mais de trinta anos, os principais políticos acreditavam que era necessário criar um organismo supranacional para trazer uma forma permanente de paz à Europa. Após a Primeira Guerra Mundial, houve uma tentativa falhada liderada pelo Presidente dos EUA Woodrow Wilson de criar uma Liga das Nações global. Após a Segunda Guerra Mundial, em 1945, foi criada a organização intercontinental concebida para trazer paz e segurança ao mundo, as Nações Unidas. No entanto, os europeus queriam criar um movimento pan-europeu devido aos laços históricos, culturais, económicos e sociais dos países europeus. Uma tal união de países europeus facilitaria também aos Estados Unidos a administração da ajuda aos países que tinham concordado em ajudar financeiramente com o Plano Marshall. As origens da União Europeia começaram com um tratado bilateral assinado pela França e Grã-Bretanha em 1947. Através de uma série de tratados, a aliança entre países da Europa Ocidental cresceu em força e poder para englobar ideais económicos, políticos e sociais. A primeira organização formal, a Comunidade Europeia do Carvão e do Aço, composta por seis países, deu lugar à organização mais coesa, a Comunidade Económica Europeia, que por sua vez foi um antepassado da União Europeia. Durante esta evolução, o projecto confederado europeu continuou a crescer em dimensão geográfica, coesão económica, e crenças políticas partilhadas. Hoje, a União Europeia tem 27 países membros e uma população de quase 450 milhões de habitantes, com instituições políticas partilhadas, um mercado económico comum, uma moeda internacional em circulação na maioria dos estados membros, e um compromisso com a paz, democracia, justiça, e direitos humanos.
The precise status of the European Union in international law has never really been settled, and this applies to its predecessors (the European Economic Community (EEC) and European Community (EC) in particular) as well. What is clear, it seems, is that the Union is not a state as commonly conceived. It lacks its own territory and it lacks a population it can call its own, therewith failing to tick the two formal boxes when it comes to statehood.1 Moreover, the European Union is not generally recognized as a state, even though its attitudes and legal order sometimes suggest that statehood might be a close and reasonably accurate analogy. But if the European Union is not a state, then what is it? The most common classification is that it is an international organization, yet this is often accompanied by the caveat that it is an organization unlike any other. Traditionally, this has been captured in a variety of ways. Thus, for some, the European Union is the archetype of a supranational organization. It is held to be a species of the genus “international organization,” but one where decision making is more centralized than in others and actually takes place not so much between the member states but above them. This claim is then often accompanied by the statement that there is really only one example of such a supranational organization: the European Union.
Abstention, constructive (positive abstention)
As a general rule, all decisions taken with respect to the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy are adopted unanimously. However, in certain cases, an EU country can choose to abstain from voting on a particular action without blocking it. This could arise, for example, where the EU proposes to condemn the actions of a non-EU country. Under Article 31 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), the country that constructively abstains may qualify its abstention by making a formal declaration.
In that case, it shall not be obliged to apply this decision, but shall accept that the decision commits the EU.
Accession criteria (Copenhagen criteria)
The Treaty on European Union sets out the conditions (Article 49) and principles (Article 6(1)) to which any country wishing to become an EU member must conform. Certain criteria must be met for admission. These criteria (known as the Copenhagen criteria) were established by the Copenhagen European Council in 1993 and strengthened by the Madrid European Council in 1995. They are: stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities; a functioning market economy and the ability to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the EU; ability to take on the obligations of membership, including the capacity to effectively implement the rules, standards and policies that make up the body of EU law (the ‘acquis’), and adherence to the aims of political, economic and monetary union. For EU accession negotiations to be launched, a country must satisfy the first criterion.
COVID-19 affects us all. It does not care who we are, or where we are: everyone is at risk. As long as COVID-19 exists somewhere in the world, no one is safe. All over the world people are losing sources of income and finding them unable to provide for themselves and their families. The pandemic is especially worrying for partner countries outside the EU with fragile healthcare systems and economies. The European Union and its Member States, acting together as ‘Team Europe’, are taking comprehensive and decisive action to tackle the destructive impact of COVID-19.