Politics of Europe


Politics of Europe

The politics of Europe deals with the continually evolving politics within the continent. It is a topic far more detailed than other continents due to a number of factors including the long history of nation states in the region as well as the modern day trend towards increased political unity amongst the European states.

The current politics of Europe can be traced back to historical events within the continent. Likewise geography, economy and culture have contributed to the current political make-up of Europe.

Modern European politics is dominated by the European Union, since the fall of the Iron Curtain and the collapse of the Eastern Bloc of Communist states. After the end of the Cold War, the EU expanded eastward to include the former Communist countries. By 2007, it had 27 member states.

Modern political climate

Despite vastly improved relations between Russia and the Western European states since the end of the cold war, recently tensions have risen over the spread of "Western" organisations, particularly the EU and NATO, eastwards into former USSR states.

Most European states have either joined, or stated their ambition to join, the European Union. This has led to governments overhauling corrupt and overly-bureaucratic systems in order to bring themselves in line with membership criteria. This has also led to improved relations between former enemies, such as Greece and Turkey.

There are few conflicts within Europe, although there remain problems in the Balkans, the Caucasus, Northern Ireland in United Kingdom and the Basque Country in Spain.

According to 2007 data published in 2008 by Freedom House, the countries of Europe that cannot be classified non-liberal electoral democracies are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo and Russia. [ [http://freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=363&year=2008 freedomhouse.org: Map of Freedom in the World] , 2008]

International alliances


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"European states are members of a large number of international organisations, mainly economical, although several are political, or both. The main political unions are detailed below."

Council of Europe

The Council of Europe is the only pan-European organisation of which almost all European states are members. It is involved in a broad range of activities, including treaties and other programs to harmonize law and regulations between its member states, in policy areas such as human rights, citizenship, bioethics, mutual recognition, private international law, environmental and heritage protection, rights of minority cultural and linguistic groups, etc. It is much closer in its nature to a traditional international organization rather than the quasi-federal entity which is the EU - it negotiates treaties which must be ratified individually, and which generally lack direct effect or individual legal access to an international court - thus it could be compared to a regional version of the United Nations. However, in the area of human rights, it has become much more quasi-federal in nature, through the European Convention on Human Rights and its associated court.

European Union

:"Also see: Politics of the European Union, Foreign relations of the European Union"The European Union or EU is an intergovernmental and supranational union of 27 states. It has many activities, the most important being a common single market, consisting of a customs union, a single currency (adopted by 15 out of 27 member states(2008)), a Common Agricultural Policy and a Common Fisheries Policy. The European Union also has various initiatives to co-ordinate activities of the member states.

The EU, considered as a unit, has the largest economy in the world with a 2007 nominal GDP of 15.849 trillion USD. There is also a trend of moving towards increased cooperation in terms of common defence and foreign policy.

The union has evolved over time from a primarily economic union to an increasingly political one. This trend is highlighted by the increasing number of policy areas that fall within EU competence; political power has tended to shift upwards from the member states to the EU. The further development of the political competencies of the EU is the subject of heavy debate within and between some member states.

Commonwealth of Independent States

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is a confederation consisting of 12 of the 15 states of the former Soviet Union, (the exceptions being the three Baltic states). Although the CIS has few supranational powers, it is more than a purely symbolic organization and possesses coordinating powers in the realm of trade, finance, lawmaking and security. The most significant issue for the CIS is the establishment of a full-fledged free trade zone / economic union between the member states, launched in 2005. It has also promoted cooperation on democratisation and cross-border crime prevention.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is a military alliance of mainly European states, plus the United States of America and Canada. The organisation was founded as a collective security measure following World War Two.

This provision was intended so that if the Soviet Union launched an attack against the European allies of the United States, it would be treated as if it were an attack on the United States itself, which had the biggest military and could thus provide the most significant retaliation. However the feared Soviet invasion of Europe never came. Instead, the provision was invoked for the first time in the treaty's history on 12 September 2001, in response to the September 11 attacks on the United States the day before.

GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development

GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development is a regional organization of four CIS states: Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova. The group was created as a way of countering the influence of Russia in the area, and it has received backing and encouragement from the United States. Though at one point it was generally considered to have stagnated, recent developments have caused speculation on the possible revival of the organization.

Devolutionary pressures

It should be noted that these movements, seeking either autonomy or independence, vary greatly in their popular support and political profile, from fringe movements to mainstream campaigns.

Belgium

Two of Belgium's parties, the Vlaams Belang and New-Flemish Alliance, want Flanders, the northern part of Belgium, to become independent. Other Flemish parties plead for more regional autonomy. There is also a minor movement aiming at unification of Flanders with the Netherlands (see Greater Netherlands).

The autonomous Belgian region of Wallonia has a movement seeking unification with France.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Inhabitants of one of the two constituent entities, Republika Srpska, vast majority of them being ethnic Serbs, would opt for independence from Bosnia and Herzegovina and unification with Serbia. Republika Srpska comprises 49% of the territory of Bosnia and functions independently from the rest of the country in many spheres. Even though independence is not on the official government agenda, Serbian politicians from the region see a link between a possible future status of Kosovo and the status of Republika Srpska.

Croats, who remain a constituent nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina remain united with ethnic Bosniacs in a joint entity. Some Bosnian Croat politicians have proposed a separate constituent entity for Croats along the lines of the Republika Srpska.

Denmark

The Danish territories of Greenland and Faroe Islands have very strong independence movements.

Finland

The Åland Islands has an autonomy. In 2003, the Alandian separatist party Ålands Framtid was formed. There has not been much support for full independence since the Independence of Finland, but in the last years the support has slightly grown.

France

The Mediterranean island of Corsica has a significant and growing group calling for independence from France. There are also movements in the Brittany region of northern France who wish to regain independence lost in 1532, and in Savoy in the south east, which was annexed to France following a disputed referendum in 1860.

Parts of Navarre, Basque Country and Catalonia cross into France.

Georgia

Georgia has two regions wishing to join with Russia: Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Italy

The Mediterranean island of Sardinia has a small independence movement.

An Italian political party, the Lega Nord, supports the independence of Northern Italy under the name Padania, blaming Southern Italy for siphoning away tax funds and blocking progress, and a racial nationalist group, the "Lombard League (political party)" wants to divide Italy into two countries, the North ("Lombardia-Romagna") and the South ("Napolitiana"). A similar, though not as active movement, is found in the Southern Italian provinces (i.e. the island-region of Sicily) long resented the distant rule and neglect of regional and provincial issues in Rome. Fact|date=February 2007

Moldova

The eastern Moldovan region of Transnistria, which has a large ethnic Russian and Ukrainian population, has declared independence from Moldova. Despite having no control over the region, the Moldovan government refuses to recognise this claim. There is a significant movement in Moldova and Romania aiming at the reunification of the two countries.

Netherlands

The Frisian National Party seeks more autonomy for Friesland without striving for complete independence. The preservation of Frisian culture is an important goal of the party.

Norway

The Sami people desire independence for Lapland.Fact|date=January 2007

Romania

Before the Treaty of Trianon after World War I, Transylvania belonged to Austria-Hungary, and it contains minorities of ethnic Hungarians who desire autonomy in the country.

Russia

Several of Russia's regions have independence movements, mostly in the state's north Caucasus border. The most notable of these are Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia, which have well supported guerrilla groups involved in open conflict with the Russian authorities.

The Tatar people seek an independent state for the region of Tatarstan.

To the west of Russia lies the enclave of Kaliningrad oblast, (formerly known as Prussia). This enclave is separated from the main Russian state by EU member states, which has led to an increased call for autonomy. However, some ethnic-German groups call for complete independenceFact|date=January 2007.

The Sami people desire independence for Lapland, the Eastern part of which is located within Russia.

erbia

The province of Kosovo is the subject of a long-running political and territorial dispute between the Serbian (and previously, the Yugoslav) government and Kosovo's largely ethnic-Albanian population. International negotiations began in 2006 to determine final status ("See Kosovo status process"). Kosovo declared independence on 17th February 2008 and some countries are expected to recognize the province's independence in the following days.

pain

Within Spain there are independence movements in some of the autonomous regions, notably the regions of Catalonia, Basque country and Navarre. These are mostly peaceful but some, such as ETA and Terra Lliure, have used violent means.

weden

Some Sami people desire independence for Lapland.Fact|date=June 2007

However, Sweden is practically a Nation-state.

Ukraine

The Ukrainian autonomous region of Crimea has several movements, calling either for greater autonomy, complete independence, or unification with Russia.

The East of the country is majority Russophone, and there are calls from some groups for the area to leave Ukraine and join Russia. This is particularly the case since the pro-western Victor Yuschenko became president.

United Kingdom

Within the United Kingdom there are elected political parties in Scotland and Wales calling for independence from the union. There are also movements, such as the English Democrats, calling for devolution for England and movements, such as the Wessex Regionalists, calling for greater devolution of power in the English regions. In Northern Ireland there are parties calling for the province to leave the union and be reunited with the Republic of Ireland. Movements seeking autonomy or independence are also present in the peninsula of Cornwall.

Crown dependencies

There is a movement which seeks to revoke the status of the Isle of Man as a British Crown dependency and establish a completely sovereign state.

References

Politics by country

Foreign relations by country

ee also

*International organisations in Europe
*Politics of the European Union
*European Neighbourhood Policy
*Europe
*Culture of Europe
*Economy of Europe
*Geography of Europe
*History of Europe
*List of conflicts in Europe
*List of Europe-related topics
*OSCE countries statistics


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