“The collapse of Communism ended the division of Europe and allowed unification to reach into new areas of the continent” (Shubert & Goldstein, 2012, p. 282). Globalization united Europe in a way that could not have happened while communism remained an integral part of their political landscape. They were now able to become an active participant in the global economy. Political and economic implications of European unity included the development of the European Union (EU), which was both a political and economic institution. Countries that entered the EU were required to commit to a political democracy and a market economy (2012). The Euro eventually became the single currency for much of Europe (first adopted in 1999). This act alone simplified travel and border issues making it unnecessary to change up currency from country to country. It did, however, restrict governments from regulating interest rates or value of their currency (2012). Shubert & Goldstein state that “exponential growth in the volume of international trade has been one of the defining features of globalization and to this challenge European economies responded exceptionally well” (2012).
Socially- there was a great influx of immigrants during this time frame that changed up the face of Europe making it more diverse. Refugees were seeking safety from oppression and war torn countries. Poorer citizens looking for employment would move to a more prosperous location within Europe. There was more moving about and freedom to do so. However, Muslims generally found it difficult to be accepted in European culture because of (both) fear and prejudice. Their presence caused concern and controversy among Europeans who were divided on acceptance of Muslims in their communities. Europe was very much divided on this issue.
“Europe speaks with one voice on international economic matters, but on most questions of foreign policy, and especially those that involve military intervention, it is the member states who speak, and they often voice opposing positions” (Shubert & Goldstein, 2012). To this respect, one could say Europe is still divided. The Berlin Wall and all it implied would have greatly contributed to continuing divisions in political and economical matters.
Nationalism and genocide played an enormous role in Europe. The “ethnic cleansing” committed by Serbs and Croats truly matched the hatred involved in the Holocaust. Murder, rape, and torture were all carried out in the name of Nationalism even if that word was never uttered.
The collapse of communism had both a positive and negative impact on Europe. The positive included the discussion above: globalization and all it entailed for the citizens of Europe. There was a freedom of moving about that they had not experienced for generations. Yet, governments faced a choice- proceed cautiously while converting to capitalism or do it quickly by a “big bang” approach (2012). If the former communist states chose the “big bang” method, they experienced unemployment and general upheaval until they regained their footing and this took a long time.
Shupert, A. & Goldstein, R. J. (2012). Twentieth-century Europe. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.