Until the 20th century there were no Organisations which applied to most of the world; now there are approximately thirty-thousand, and counting…
Above them all, of course, comes the United Nations which in 1945 replaced the League of Nations, set up in 1920 to prevent a recurrence of the Great War but which ultimately failed.
The UN currently has five principal parts: The General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, Secretariat and International Court of Justice. It also includes various funds, programmes and specialised agencies which cover a multitude of subjects — everything from the World Trade Organisation, the World Food Programme and the International Rescue Committee to a Universal Postal System and a World Tourism Organisation.
There are also Organisations which cover a variety of subjects, from Fisheries and International Migration to the Environment and Nuclear Power.
Then, headed by the World Trade Organisation, there are the regional, but world-wide, Financial, Trade, and Customs Organisations which include the European Union. And these all have the same ultimate aim: political integration.
It begins with separate, independent countries which create trade pacts with others if and when they are needed.
The second stage is a Free Trade Area. This is a bloc of countries which have signed a free trade agreement (FTA) that involves cooperation between them to reduce trade barriers such as import quotas and tariffs.
The third stage is a Customs Union which is composed of the FTA but with a common external tariff. The purpose is to increase economic efficiency and to establish closer political and cultural ties between member countries.
The fourth stage is a Common Market which comprises the Free Trade Area and the Customs Union but with common policies on product regulation. This then leads on to the Single Market in which most trade barriers have been removed and there is free movement between member countries of goods, services (including fiscal), capital, jobs and people. It therefore means that the national borders within the Single Market are irrelevant.
The fifth stage is an Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) where members of the Single Market now use a common currency (this differs from a ‘monetary union which does not involve a common market). There is also an intermediate step between pure EMU and a complete economic integration, termed the Fiscal Union.
The sixth stage is Economic Integration, after which the integrated units have no control of economic policy but have full monetary union and complete or near-complete fiscal policy harmonisation. But since this economic integration is more stable within a country (such as in the United States of America) rather than in a group of sovereign countries all jostling for their own advantage, the ultimate but largely unpublicised aim is for Political Integration, either as a Federation or as one country.
Having reached the state of Economic Integration, the EU is, so far, the most advanced regional organisation. All but two of the member states (Britain and Denmark) which have an opt-out agreement, have already joined a common currency, the Euro, or have agreed to do so when their financial circumstances become suitable.
The next and final step is Political Integration and in 2013, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, said that although:
‘A fully fledged federal Europe may seem like “political science fiction” today [it] will soon become reality for all European Union countries whether inside or outside the Euro’.
And many more Unions are likely to follow with some moving faster than others towards full integration. There is now a vast and complicated web of connections between countries around the world. To mention a few, there are –
NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) between Mexico, the United States and Canada, set up in 1994.
UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) consists of 12 member states whose headquarters will be located in Quito, Ecuador and a South American Parliament in Cochamba, Bolivia.
UfM (Union for the Mediterranean) which was originally called the Barcelona Process, was re-launched in 2008, and consists of the 28 members of the European Union together with 15 Southern Mediterranean, African and Middle Eastern countries.
AU (African Union) which was originally called the Organisation of African Unity, was re-launched in 2002 with 32 members.
ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) which was originally formed in 1967 with 10 member states but also has close trade relations with China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, the United States and Russia which also has trade agreements with several countries in both this area and in Europe. The EU is also engaged with the area and negotiations for a region-to-region Free Trade Agreement are continuing.
There are also two controversial trade agreements which are currently being discussed:
TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement), which was started in 2006, is a multinational trade agreement between 12 countries in the Pacific Rim area, including the United States.
TTIP (The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) which is a comprehensive free trade and investment treaty currently being negotiated between the European Union and the USA.
As can be seen, the world’s nations are gradually, with little general publicity, being brought together and the final aim, it would seem, is global political integration. If so, there are several questions which need answering.
Will the world’s populations, which are at base, tribal, allow it to happen without future World Wars?
Even if this integration is fairly peaceable, who will police it, and how?
And if the United Nations develops into a One World Government, what type of government will it be? A democracy like Britain’s? A group dictatorship like that of the European Union? Or a full-blown dictatorship?