European integration is the concept of the many countries of Europe integrating to align themselves more closely with the intention of thereby creating an environment conducive to trade, to business, and to tourism. European integration is the main goal of the EU and has come about through the work of the EU and the Council of Europe.
The concept of European integration first came about in 1923 when Count Richard Nikolaus von Coudenhove-Kalergi wrote about it in his Pan-Europa manifesto. The concept was then passed around and grew further as a response to World War II leading to the creation of a Council of Europe in 1949. The European Union was then established in 1993 by the Treaty of Maastricht.
Since then many changes have been made by the European Union that have steered towards successful European Integration. The introduction of the Euro for instance to the 16 countries in the Eurozone has helped to create a single currency to facilitate trade and tourism. At the same time the EU has abolished many border controls and the European Customs Union defines an area where there are no customs on goods travelling between countries.
European integration if successful has many potential benefits and should conceivably strengthen alliances, build on the economy, and allow Europe to compete more equally with Asia and America. European integration is an ongoing process with many countries still joining the Euro – Slovakia for instance joining as recently as 2009, and it is speculated that there could be an integrated European army in a distant future. There is no ‘fixed end point’ for European integration, so only time will tell how successful this campaign is and what results it will yield.