Conclusion: Present Realities and Future Prospects
The European Union should not be viewed in too narrow a context. Whilst many of the factors which have influenced its development have applied to it alone, many have not. This is most clearly seen in the ways in which modernisation and interdependence, which have been crucial in the creation of many of the central features of the EU, have produced similar effects elsewhere in the international system — albeit usually to a more modest degree. There has, for example, been a steady increase in the number and variety of international actors, and some corresponding weakening in the dominance of states. An increasing range of methods and channels are used by international actors to pursue their goals. Relationships between governments are no longer so controlled as they used to be by Foreign Offices and Ministries of External Affairs. The range of issues on international agendas has grown with, in particular, traditional ‘high’ policy issues — those concerned with security and the defence of the state — being joined by an array of ‘low’ policy issues — those concerned with the wealth and welfare of citizens. And there has been a decline, in the Western industrialised world at least, in the use of physical force as a policy instrument — conflicts over trade imbalances and currency exchange rates are not solved by armed conflict but by bargaining, adjusting, and compromising.
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