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What makes the European Union a highly influential regional organisation?

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Ever since its inception, the European Union (EU) has emerged as a powerful and influential regional organisation. Assuming the role of a supranational organisation, the EU has its own flag, anthem and, most importantly, common currency. It has expanded its area of influence by incorporating within its fold the former communist regimes and by cooperating in defence security matters. The role of the EU in global politics can be identified from the following points:
a. Economic role- The EU is the world’s largest economy with a GDP of over US$ 17 trillion (2013 data). Its share in the world trade is three times larger than that of the US, which gives it more economic leverage to be assertive in trade-related disputes and matters.
b. Political role- The EU has been able to extend its political and diplomatic influence across the globe. With France and Britain being the permanent members of the UN Security Council and many being the non-permanent members, the EU has been able to influence the UN’s decisions and policies and has also taken an independent stand with regard to the US policy. Furthermore, it has been able to pressure countries like China with regard to human rights issues.
c. Military influence- With a high defence spending, the EU’s combined forces are the second largest in the world . France and Britain are nuclear powers and collectively have over 550 nuclear warheads. Moreover, the region is advanced in terms of space and communication technology.
d. There are certain limitations in the functioning of the EU. For example, the EU has failed to adopt a common constitution and not all member states have adopted a common currency. Further, the member states stood divided with regard to the US invasion of Iraq, with France and Germany resisting such a decision. However, the underlying importance of the EU’s increased influence in global politics cannot be ignored. One may cite the example of the EU imposed economic sanctions in Syria in the wake of the civil war.

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