Is the European Union a Country?

This is a Wendover Productions video in collaboration
with Real Life Lore and made possible by Lootcrate. Is the European Union a country? It’s a bit of strange question, with an
easy answer but a difficult explanation. The answer is no. The European Union is not a country, but…
you can move between countries without passing through border control, work between countries
without a Visa, and they use the same currency, and there are elections to a single parliament,
and there’s a single government, and there are official languages, and a single economic
market, a single aviation market, and… this is beginning to sound awfully like… a country. Let’s do a 90 second recap of how the EU
works. This is the European Union. There are 28 member states including the UK
which has voted to leave the EU, but just hasn’t yet gone through the process to leave. Of those, these are in the Schengen Zone meaning
that there are no border controls between them. That means that a typical border crossing
in the EU looks like this. These four are legally obliged to be in the
Schengen Zone but just aren’t, and these two have opt-outs in their treaties that exempt
them from being in the Schengen Zone. These countries are part of the Eurozone meaning
the euro is their sole legal currency. These guys are obliged to join the Eurozone
once they reach a certain economic target, which they haven’t, and these two have opt-outs
exempting them from the Eurozone. Each member country of the European Union
elects its own Members of the European Parliament, known as MEPs, but the Parliament can’t
make laws by itself. Laws are proposed by the European Commission,
who kinda work like an executive branch. They then go to the Parliament who, if they
approve it, send it to the council of the European Union. While the Parliament represents the people
of the European Union since the MEPs are elected by direct election, the Council represents
the Governments since its made up of a rotating roster of national ministers. If a proposed piece of legislation makes it
through both the Parliament and Council of Europe, it becomes law. So that’s how the European Union works,
at least a massively simplified version, but how do countries work… or rather, what makes
a country a country. Well calling a country a country is a bit
misleading because the word “country” can mean a lot of things. What you’re probably thinking of when I
say country is sovereign states—France, Japan, the US, etc—but there are non-sovereign
states that are countries. Scotland is a country, indisputably, but it’s
not a sovereign state. It’s a part of the Sovereign State of the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. So, once again, what makes a country a country? Well, there’s something called the Declaratory
Theory of Statehood that sets out four criteria for statehood. The first is “a permanent population”—a
country is not a country without people so it needs people in its territory permanently. The EU easily has this. More than half a billion people live within
its borders. If it were a country, it would be the third
most populous on earth and have one of the second highest gdps in the world. The second requirement is a defined territory. It’s a common misconception that a new country
can only form on unclaimed territory—according to the declaratory theory a sovereign state
can be created in an area where another sovereign state already exists. Just look at North and South Korea—both
claim the territory of each other and yet they’re both sovereign states. The European Union has a territory, but its
a bit fuzzy. Any territory that you can call EU territory
is also territory of other entities, the countries that make up the EU. But that doesn’t necessarily stop the EU
from having a territory. Going back to the example of the UK, the official
sovereign state—the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland—really doesn’t
have any of its own territory. Any territory of the UK is part of England,
Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland—each countries by themselves. The US is in a similar situation. States act kinda-like mini-countries and there
really is no federal territory that is not part of a state’s territory. Especially given its open border policy, the
EU’s territory is in function indistinguishable from that of any sovereign state. The third requirement is a government and
the government can’t just be a puppet of another sovereign state. The government needs to have whats called
“an essential core of independence.” As I’ve mentioned, the EU has a government
but for a few reasons the EU government is different from that a sovereign state. Here’s the problem, the EU’s government
is not independent. The power comes from below, as in the power
comes from the member states. The power of most sovereign states also comes
from below, but in that case its the people that give a state power. In the case of the EU, since power is granted
by sovereign states, those states are really above the EU in power and therefore the EU
government is a subservient government. That violates the criteria for a truly independent
government. Although, what’s the difference between
this and UK government then—the country of countries? The United Kingdom is also made up of countries
so isn’t their government subservient? Well, in the EU, there is a system and structure
to leaving, whereas in the United Kingdom or really any other country, the entities
within the sovereign states cannot leave without a change in government structure and procedure. When parts of sovereign states leave sovereign
states, they do so typically without a legal right but rather a moral right. It’s called “the Right to Revolution”
according to the philosopher John Locke. When a government no longer serves the people,
as in it fails to protect the rights of the people or becomes the entity that people need
protection from, there is a near universal moral understanding that the people can either
overthrow or leave that government. Members of the EU can choose whether or not
to continue membership on a legal basis rather than a moral one. The whole structure and system was set up
by the member states, so even though it is overseeing the states, the power originates
from the states it oversees. The continued existence of the EU relies on
the will of its members to continue the system. That is never the case with an independent
government. That being said, while the origin of power
may be different, the EU government functions in most ways like any other government. It has different branches, agencies, economic
systems, leaders, and more, so while its different, the EU does partially fulfill the government
requirement for statehood. The last criteria for statehood outlined in
the Declaratory Theory is “the capacity to enter into relations with other states”
and the EU absolutely has this. There are ambassadors to the EU, ambassadors
of the EU, embassies of the EU, embassies to the EU, intergovernmental organizations
between the EU and non-EU countries, treaties between the EU and non-EU countries, and more. While most foreign relations are handled by
individual member countries, there are absolutely foreign relations of the EU as a whole. So, the European Union has fulfilled each
criteria for sovereign statehood on out list, but it still isn’t a state. Here’s the problem: statehood, as in being
a sovereign country, is not a natural phenomenon. No part of nature creates countries. You can call salt salt if it’s made of Sodium
Chloride. That’s the requirement for salt being salt
and we can’t change that. That how nature makes salt. We created the idea of countries. They’re a social construct, so society decides
what is a sovereign country and what is not. While we can lay down a number of requisites
for statehood, they are just guidelines to achieve the final goal—society’s acceptance
of a country. We can’t just say these criteria make a
country a country unless individuals believe in those criteria since countries, like all
social constructs, only work if there’s a collective belief and following of that
system. It’s similar to money. Money only works if everyone believes that
pieces of paper equal value. Countries only work if everyone believes that
certain imaginary lines separate who and what leads people. In the case of statehood, you can’t just
ask every person in society whether or not they think a country is a sovereign country. There are socially accepted countries already
and therefore those act as a proxy for society to decide whether a country is sovereign or
not. A countries sovereignty is judged off of how
many other sovereign countries recognize its sovereignty. The European Union is not a sovereign state
because nobody accepts it as one. While it may function in many ways like a
sovereign country, it is not one because sovereignty is neither its goal or desire. This shows you just how difficult it is to
define what a country is. Supranational organizations like the EU act
like countries, but at the same time… so do some subnational entities—as in parts
of countries. Most specifically in the US. (Joseph’s part) States have a level of sovereignty
that blur the line between what is part of a sovereign country and a county itself. What is the difference between a state in
the United States and a country. They fulfill almost all the criteria that
you just heard about so that’s why I asked the question in collaboration with Wendover
Productions “Is the United States a Country” over on my channel Real Life Lore. Please do be sure to check that out, it’s
a great video from a great channel. A lot of you ask how you can support the channel
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me on Twitter @WendoverPro, watch my last video on Every Country in the World here,
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video of 2016 and I want to sincerely than every one of you for your amazing support. I started this year with about 3,000 subscribers
and now I’m almost at 300,000. It’s been an awesome year all thanks to
you guys. Happy Holidays, and I’ll see you in 2017
for the best year of videos you’ve ever seen.

Maurice Vega

100 Responses

  1. You made a mistake: it is a fact that there are some requirements for a country willing to adopt euro currency. However, those are very low and even poor countries as Latvia are able to reach them. Czechia, Sweden, Poland or Hungary are obligated to adopt euro at one time but it is not described when. De facto, this is an open door for those countries for adopting euro whenever they like. Those mentioned before are not adopting euro due to the public opinion within them.
    You made a huge mistake in your video….

  2. What about the humans? It should be a criteria whether the population consideres itself to be in citizenship. That is a very important if not the most important criteria.

    I think in 100 years, Europa will be a country.

  3. I am from China, nobody would think the EU is a country, not sure about the Americans. However, when people talking about Africa, people usually consider Africa is a country and all of the countries in Africa are poor or they are all the same. I was like wtf, no… Africa even has White people. And people is like, hahahha this guys is funny.

  4. Ummm no buddy. You got it wrong. Poland reached the economic target long time ago, but people are smart and want to keep their own currency.

  5. Has a parliament effectively a government a currency, EU passports, takes away sovereignty. Sounds like a country to me

  6. how the fuck can you ask the question again ?!?!
    for exemple in france we voted for this question in 2005.
    we voted no.
    But ok you are right they understood yes
    what a joke of democracy

  7. Up until 2007 the EU was happy to be a confederate country (a voluntary group of nations) and it worked well. They tried to put forth the European union bill which would work towards becoming a federate country (Like the USA), but France, Holland and Ireland rejected it. So a few months later they wrapped the turd up and repackaged it as the Lisbon treaty. Ireland rejected twice, but the EU forced it through anyway. The EU are slipping in federacy, legislation by legislation, a few regulations and laws at a time and will riddicule anyone who even mentions it, but its happening

  8. If us Europeans want to survive peacefully the United States of Europe has to be the long term goal.

    Alone no country would stand a chance against reckless superpowers like the USA and China.

  9. usually only garbage countries like poland want to be in EU so instead of saying they are polish they can say they are european lol

  10. Is it a location of common heritage which came together with a common goal in mind … in order to have that ideal represented on an international scale?

  11. It's not true that EU countries use the same currency, in Poland we have zloty and you can't pay with euro in shops. In Czech Republic they have koruna, euro is not accepted and it must be exchanged.

  12. Is the EU an autonomous sovereign?  The answer is NO!  Its member states are, which means the EU cannot override their sovereignties (meaning cannot control immigration, internal government policies, etc.).  The EU is just a confederation that means its member states can leave without any political or economic consequences.

  13. So basically by your theory, the EU is a country if you as me because I believe it is a country. So if enough people believed it was a country then it would be classed as a country.

  14. Who would even ask such a question?
    Of course the EU is not a country.
    Also no, 7:00 is false.
    There are clear borders, and clear reasons why they exist. They aren't only a social construct. Afterall, the mentality between people differs quite a bit.

    Anyway, the EU should stop trying to be a country, and fuck it.

  15. All EU law has precedence over all national law in all courts (national or EU). That makes it look pretty much like a country/sovereign state. The unilateral right to leave the EU under Article 50 is merely the right of the member states to become sovereign. Until they exercise that right, they are not sovereign. I have the unilateral right to get divorced, but until I actually exercise that right, I am still married.

  16. Is the EU a country, on the surface, no it's not, it's got a lot of the building blocks that make a country and I can well imaging in the long run it going that way but for now it's not, it's a union of cooperative members for the benefit of all of them.

    In the longer run, will the EU become a country? that hard to say but what we do know is there is external pressures from powers like the US, China, Russia that likely will push Europeans to work more closely together so they can protect their economic and political interest, it's actually one of the main reasons the EU exist, not out of want but out of need in protecting our interesting in a rapidly changing world.

  17. I had no idea the rest of the EU also uses the Danish Krone.. Thanks Wendover, you sure know what you are talking about… I'll make sure to use them next time in the UK…

  18. Well, there is plenty of Federal non-state territory. Take Puerto Rico, The Virgins (I refuse to clarify this), Guam, etc., and, most importantly, D.C. All territory of the Federal Govt., but not of any given State.

  19. So living on the border of Germany and the Netherlands, different prices for the same product in the different countries, different government, different healthcare, education etc. etc.

    What idiot would ask this question ? of course it is not a country and only fools and idiots need explanation for this.

  20. European Union only count 2 countries. France and germany ! Dont considérer the other one because they are not significative economically speaking !
    Spain Portugal Italia they all come all young people leave to join France or germany. Grèce Roumanie bulgaria and maybe Ukraine in 50 years they all come for horizontal work ! So in short terms EU = FRANCE and Germany !

  21. Since a twothirds majority is needed for most constitutional changes (like Katalonia leaving Spain), wouldn't the UK need a 2/3 majority? Not like a referendum is worth anything in a pretend-democracy of oligarchs, demagogues and first past the poll backbenchers.
    The referendum might have been their first (important) democratic poll EVER, since parliament representation can hardly be called democratic.

  22. I'm living in Bulgaria and they don't accept Euros! Just the bulgarian Lev. What's weird is real estate prices are quoted in euro but that's it from what I know lol

  23. What is omitted from this video is the fact that the EU has accrued all its powers without the consent of the citizen. The citizens cannot vote for the President and the MEP's cannot create legislation. Therefore the EU has more in common with North Korea and the old USSR than it does with our USA.

  24. I'll bet that a lot of people who watch this channel can't get Lootcrate because they live in an apartment and haven't the room. Neat idea, though; I like JapanCrate which has food from Japan in it.

  25. Is the EU a country ?

    Not quite yet !
    But it does look more and more like one, since 1992.
    Could well come to be named something among the lines of "European Federation", "United States of Europe" "United Republics, Federations and Kingdoms of Europe" in a not-so-distant future.
    Just my humble forecast.

  26. Its question like is building on ground
    And what do you think if eu has 28 countries what it is?
    You have one try to guess

  27. European Union. It looks like a country. It acts like a country. But we are told it is not a country. Maybe not yet. Time for some more social conditioning so that people will accept that notion.

  28. Well… not specificly ”a country” but like a federation…. almost like for example USA.
    The ”states” of EU have their own governments etc… but have to lksten to the EUs own government etc…

    Though it will be quite wierd cause like for example germany is on its own a federation.

    What also make EU not being like a country or federation is that not all of the members have the same currency.
    I know that sweden ”have to” start using the euro due to the contracr with EU and so but for some reason we had an vote about it in sweden like 20 years ago and the results were no… and swedes for some reason think that that voting was official to the EUs parlament… but it was just a local or more precicly ’national’ thing…. so that we have to fill some kind of points before entering euro is just buklshit… if swedens citicens had voted yes we would have had euros since like 18 years or something… but sweden was so fucking dukb that we voted no and didn’t attatced our currency to euro or so like denmark did… so now we stuck with our currency allways wobbling up and down compared to euro ao that one day euro is as cheap as 8kr but next day as expensive as 12kr… denmark instead have their currency attatced so that a euro always costs the same… also they have a contract that says they don’t have to switch currency to euros…. bit sweden has to switch and i just say that we should do it NOW!! Preferably like 18 years ago but better late than never…

    Another thing that makes EU be far from beeing a country is that all members have different cultures.. and then i mean very different.
    I mean like… within an european country there are quite big differences depending on region and so…. but between countries of europe that would be way to big differences to form a country. Also the fact that there are so many different languages and different language families toghether with this cultural differences… well.. that would be a little like the US, Russia, Saudiarabia, mexico and china would form a nation togheter… that just wouldn’t work…

    Even though the EU exists and almost can be considderent as a federation like the US… NO it’s still very far from even be able to be considered a country 😉

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