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Widening and Deepening of the European Union: Economic and Political Challenges

Widening and Deepening of the European Union: Economic and Political Challenges


Widening and Deepening of the European Union. Economic and Political Challenges* M. B. McGeever The European Union (EU) is indeed faced with real challenges, internally as well as in the world at large. We are in a period of unprecedented change, brought on by the emergence of a worldwide economy, by the information revolution, by global environmental problems, and by various geopolitical shifts. The European Union is a force for stability in that world of change. The European integration process has come a long way since the Treaty of Paris (1951). What started as a group of six West European countries in 1951 as the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), and was later joined by the Euro- pean Atomic Energy Community and the European Economic Community in 1957, has evolved since 1992 into the European Union, now comprising fifteen member states. Today, the EU is the biggest economic entity in the world. Its present popu- lation is 370 million, its total area is 3.2 million sq km, its combined GDP was 6,445 billion ECUs in 1995, and its average per capita GDP was 17,277 in terms of current purchasing power standard (PPS). Eleven countries in central and
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