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The European Union is a multifaceted organization and the institutions within the EU
produce many complex and distinctive policies. Yet, the EU’s role as an
international actor goes beyond merely setting and regulating laws within Europe;
it also incorporates vast policy areas. Moreover, through these policies, the
EU has created a widespread network of international relations throughout the
world, extending to its proximate countries, to Africa, Asia, South America,
and North America. Therefore, it can be argued that the European Union
plays an integral role in global politics. This essay will discuss the function
the European Union plays in an economic realm, in development, and through

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Economic Role

To begin, the European
Union has an important role fiscally in the international scene. There are many
reasons that can support this argument. One important theory is the idea of
externalization. It is most commonly associated with economic interest groups,
such as national interest groups, which move to Brussels, with the aim of
coming into direct contact with the EU institutions to promote their interest
or to merely collect information on the spot.1
However, this theory transcends to supranationalisation, which corresponds to the institutionalization of links at the
community level between interest groups of different nationalities, usually
national federations. However, this is also becoming more common among large
companies also. This institutionalization is the origin of the Eurogroups that
benefit from the support of the commission, since they are the natural and
privileged interlocutors.2

The Union
uses regulation in terms of differences in levels of economic development,
sometimes within, and other times, across countries. This leads to a more
decentralized form of governance. The EU, as well as its member states, along
with the global economy experiments with new quasi-independent regulatory
Therefore, expanding
economic integration allowed the European Union to support its international
situation measured with macroeconomic development indicators.

due to the economic and financial crisis, and the consequent change in the
boundaries between economic and monetary policies, this has changed the nature
of certain policies and has been a window of opportunity for the European
Central Bank in its desire to spread the model of socio-economic organization
throughout the continent.4 In the wake of an economic downturn from the global financial crisis, the
ECB utilized novel policy implementations on a grand scale. It was to be
anticipated that certain pronouncements would trigger intense examinations on
central bank mandates, responsibilities and implementations. The ECB has come
to be seen as an institution that is enthusiastic to increase and develop its operation
and assume supplementary influences.

Moreover, “Europe is commonly portrayed as a huge
market of 500 million consumers, second in the world after the United States in
terms of purchasing power and the third after India and China in terms of
population.5” From
the beginning of the dynamics of economic integration, there has been a
specific counterbalance between
the principles of the free market and the policies
of populace intervention that make up the two economic cultures
of Europe. It is also important to note the intertwining of the different
dimensions of European integration on the global scale.

Role in development and stabilizer of
international conflict prevention

The European Union as a community and its member
states vigorously conduct an external cooperation policy to promote
development, and they provide to the growth of the economic, social and
political progress of different countries in the world.

More specifically, the European Union
has an international role in domains such as development, humanitarian aid,
environment, social issues, such as asylum and migration. The EU also maintains that
prosperous nations have an obligation to aid less developed states to share in
the benefits of global integration. It acknowledges the discourse between
countries and in multilateralism as the greatest solution to answer global
problems. This pertains to its internal processes – wherein Member States share
their sovereignty to achieve together things they could not do disjointedly –
and to its global partnerships for dealing with challenges such as security,
trade, terrorism, and the environment.6  Until the late 1990s, the relations between
the European Union and the developing world revolved around two interlinked
assumptions: firstly, foreign aid was the foremost method of interaction
between the two groups. Secondly, development cooperation was an autonomous and
significant policy in the EU’s external relations.7
At the beginning of the 2000s, both assumptions were examined. A number of
non-aid policies started to be treated as having an equal, if not greater, influence
on development whereas the inclusion of new concerns (most notably trade
liberalization and international security) meant that development policy was progressively
incorporated into the broader EU external relations itinerary. 8

fractional shifting to a more development oriented rhetoric
by the European Commission—as a reaction to disapproval
from EU member states, developing
nations and NGOs —produced inadequate results: in fact,
only a few EPAs have been signed. Frustrated by the lack
of advancement, the EU revealed that it would revoke any type of
preferential admittance to those states that had failed to
ratify their EPAs. Similarly, in its attempt to promote democracy, trade
and good governance, the EU has emphasized a partnership-based approach, treating receiver country as
equal partners rather than mere recipients of development assistance. However,
its ability to see reforms being adopted by recipients is exemplified upon
the disproportionate relations with its partners: this
ultimately emphasizes a trade-off between effectiveness
and legitimacy. Thus, this evolving setting has shown that
the EU can no longer take for granted the fact that developing countries will
unassumingly agree and receive what is proposed by the EU and comply with
external burdens. Due to this intensified agency, in numerous
circumstances (aid, trade, migration) developing countries have been
able to alter and modify EU involvement —and EU policies, which is
frequently seen as a challenge, and could even enhance
their opportunity.9

Therefore, it is evident that the EU has an
international role in supporting different development policies. This role in
development is the foundation of EU relations with the rest of the world and
provides to the aim of EU external action. Nonetheless the EU’s international role
regarding the relationship with developing nations has increasingly become less
unbalanced. However, this is not due to the EU’s capability to implement its
commitment to partnership, but as an outcome of the augmented agency of
developing countries.

On the contrary, the EU voluntarily assists with other organizations in
the common goal to resolve conflicts, refurbish peace, and accomplish
disarmament. 10
This proves that the EU applies a scheme of multilateralism in order to
strengthen international security.

Role in Trade

Finally the European Union plays a fundamental role on
trade in the international scene. The majority of the EU’s trading turnover is
produced by developed nations, such as the United States, Switzerland and
Japan, and one-fifth by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA– USA,
Canada and Mexico).11
The EU trades in all goods. Industrial products generate the majority of its
trading volume yet the percentage of services has been growing steadily. Its
imports and exports are also stable.12

Characteristics of the EU trade policy have qualities
of the classical Community approach due to its considerable allocation to the
Commission for managing trade instruments and negotiating trade agreements.13
When creating these policies, the European Union looks at different locations
for addressing policy problems, ranging across contexts from local to a global

The EU’s vast economic prospect and its immense share
in global trade makes it one of the key actors in negotiations on a
multilateral global trade system, promoting a liberalization of international



It is evident that the European Union has many
roles in the international scene, and it has increasing importance and an objective
of becoming a comprehensive and global international actor. Due to its economic
role of national and supranational theories and economic integration, it is one
of the most significant contributors in international economic relations. Furthermore
the EU’s correlation with developing countries has progressively become less
asymmetrical in the development realm. In terms of trade it is one of the leading
trading powers in the world, and through all of these roles is a significant
actor on the international scene

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