The EU may feel like an abstract concept. It may seem as though the EU is the silhouette of distant institutions making broad policy decisions that may or may not intersect with the average citizen. So, legit question may be – What is the EU’s relevance in my daily life and for my region?
The EU’s pursuit of peace and economic stability is personal in that its objectives pivot on the foundation of sustainable development, a clean environment, the protection of human rights, and connected economies. In South Eastern Europe this manifests itself in policies and programs for consumer protection, in funding for health and research, and enhancement of education, and increase in employment opportunities.
The umbrella of EU standards raises quality control across EU member states. EU consumers can trust their knowledge of products, finding assurance that large corporations are held accountable for honest sales by the European Union Consumer Protection Policy.
The integration of markets has improved the economies of Eastern European EU member countries by bringing down barriers and allowing the free flow of goods and services. Furthermore, EU funds and EU collaboration in development projects allows for even growth and stabilization across member nations.
Due to the linking of economies, entrepreneurs in the EU enjoy wider market access and ambitious opportunities. Domestic companies likewise become integrated into extensive supply chains.
The EU has been making a concerted effort against unemployment, which remains a continual struggle. The EU average unemployment rate was 8.6% in January 2018. This percentage has dropped to 7.8% in January 2019. This unemployment rate remains higher than the EU desires, furthermore, there continues to be a large discrepancy between Member States in employment rates.
Romania, Slovenia, and Croatia all desire to see the EU take a more proactive role in improving health and social security. The EU has begun to focus on promoting health through improving education on vaccination and healthy living to prevent obesity and disease which have been concerns for EU Member States. The European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety recently urged health professionals to “be health ambassadors”. The European Structural and Investment Funds have enabled health services to be more accessible for 41.7 million people in the EU, and yet unequal access to health continues to be a problem.
Promoting equality between men and women within the EU has been a chief aim of the European Commission. By promoting greater female integration into the labor market through the Action Plan, pushing for equal pay and pension for women, and combating gender-based violence through programs such as the Annual Fundamental Rights Colloquium on Women’s Rights in Turbulent Times, EU Member States have made some strides toward greater equality. The European Institute for Gender Equality has published a Gender Equality Index in an effort to create more transparency of pay discrepancies between men and women as well as to highlight remaining differences in economic independence.
The EU’s impacts are numerous and multi-faceted. Its goals may be bold broad-sweeping but in its overall effort to improve the quality of life for the average EU citizen, it succeeds in creating real change. Whether it be changes in access to health care, a cleaner environment, reliable products, or more transparency in equal employment, the EU may not be making seismic changes in its Member States, but it is causing a positive difference for the average citizen.
Explore the website What Europe does for me?
Find information about the impact of the European Union:
- in your region,
- in your life.