Background of Old vs. New EU
The European Union was originally founded as the European Coal and Steel Community with the member states of Benelux, West Germany, France, and Italy. The organization changed focus from purely economic matters to more political concerns throughout its existance. In 1992 the Maastricht Treaty was signed and the European Union was born. The European Union, which replaced the European Community, was designed not only to streamline economic matters but also to set the ground work for a politically united Europe. From the original six countries the European Union grew to include fifteen by 1995. All these countries were either in Western Europe or in the western cultural sphere (Sweden, Finland, Austria, and Greece to a certain extent). The cultural atmosphere of Western Europe was center-left with popular socialist and communist parties, secular, and a cautious attitude towards the United States.
The fifteen countries have a combined population of 378.7 million, a GDP of $1.1 trillion, an average wage of $26.75 per hour, 7.2% unemployment, and 4.3% of all workers involved with agriculture. In short, EU 15 was a post-industrial society.
In 2004 the European Union expanded into Eastern (or really eastern Central) Europe. Unlike the EU 15, the new countries were inside the Iron Curtin. The knowledge of what communism did, the gratitude for being capitalist, and other factors make the new members, or Accession States, different from their counterparts. The Accession States tend to elect center-right governments, are more religious than Western Europe, and have a much more favorable opinion of the United States. An example of Accession States politics was the latest election in Poland where the two final candidates represented the business right vs. religious right. Both candidates promised to continue Polish military involment in Iraq.
The Accession States are also different in their demographic and economic make-up. Different nations have been divided and separated as was documented before. The total population in the States is 74.8 million, the GDP is $486.5 billion, the Purchasing Power per Person is only 50% of the EU 15, the average wage is $5.07 per hour, unemployment is 14.5%, and 13.3% of all workers are involved with the agricultural sector. The market is a combination of industry and service sector with a strong primary economic base.
The Accession States may be smaller and economically weaker but they are political giants. In a system where one country can stop political movement, the Accession States have huge sway. Euroskeptic parties, already doing damage to the EU from countries like France, the United Kingdom, and Italy, will be stronger in the new member states. The long term goal of the European Union is to create a European Superstate with Western European ideals, look for this to change with the Accession States and others modifying the European Union to suit their own goals.
Up next will the background of NATO