From an economic point of view the European Union continues to get stronger and is arguably the most important trading bloc in the world. "Around the 450 million citizens of the EU, there are another 1.5 billion people who depend completely on an EU that is their biggest trade partner and their biggest source of credit, foreign investment, and aid." Leonard (2005). Certainly since its inception the European Union continues to grow and is an essential participant in the global economy. If the European Union can continue to build on its foundations then it has the potential to become a superpower. However the European Union can not yet compete with the United States from a military perspective. This paper will examine the possibilities for the European Union in the near future, look at the United States in comparison and argue that there will be a redistribution of global power throughout the next century.
Prior to this century Europe had always been a hegemonic force throughout the world and survived the brunt of three wars with which between each one devastation and destruction occurred to unseen levels in which millions of civilians perished. "Within a 75-year span, the European continent was ravaged by three brutal war campaigns: the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71), World War I (1914-18) and World War II (1939-45). Together, an estimated 60 to 70 million Europeans were killed." Ritter (2006).
The last century also saw the dramatic collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Russian Empire and the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Since the end of the second world war however and even with the Cold War on the horizon, Europe recognised the immense importance of ensuring that the continent didn't suffer the repercussions of war again and also recognised the benefits of being more fully integrated. "In just 50 years, Europeans have made war between European powers unthinkable; European economies have closed the gap with the US; and Europe has brought successive waves of countries out of dictatorship and into democracy." Leonard (2005)
Whilst it has the opportunity to become a superpower, there are two factors that will certainly help determine it. One is of course the dramatic and gradual rise of China, currently the most populous nation on earth and with an economy that just keeps growing and growing. The other is the United States and the expected decline that is expected to occur not only politically and economically but influentially. Remember the United States has continually come to the aid of Europe in both World Wars, the evils of communism and fascism and by preventing the Soviet Union from spreading it's sphere of influence right through the European continent. "The fact that Europe does not have one leader, but rather a network of centres of power united by common policies and goals, means it can expand to accommodate ever-greater numbers of countries without compromising their independence, while continuing to provide its members with the benefits of being...