In the age of globalization, the world faces many interrelated social, cultural, and economic challenges. The scientific revolution that allowed reducing the territorial distances by new communicative devices and modern types of transport increased globalization as the process of new civilizational paradigm creation. Thus, the appearance of different international organizations, such as the WTO, EU, NAFTA, etc, is the reasonable result of such tendencies. In some respect, when the fields of their activity become common, these organizations act as the competitors. Moreover, in another respect there is no total competition between them because they have different objectives and each orients its activity on some specific aspect of the same social, political and economic reality. Thus, the WTO is more ambitious than the EU in the field of international trade. The reason is that the development of this sphere is primarily for the WTO, which evolves the whole world. In addition, through the intensive dimension, the EU is more ambitious in local European conditions because its central objectives evolve not only trade activity, but also all the important aspects of the social life.
According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, the WTO is the international organization established to supervise and liberalize world trade” (World Trade Organization, 2015), and such description already helps to understand the close direction of the WTO’s activity. In fact, this organization exists to ensure justice of trade relationships, to make all participants of international trade equal through the common rules and treaties. This detail means that the WTO does not seek any profit for some state or organization of the states, but serves for the common profit, the main condition of which is order in the trade relationships. It is symptomatically that the WTO in its earlier form, the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), appeared in 1947 after the World War II. It was the time when it started to function as the WTO since 1995, and when the new civilizational and economic challenges came along with the destruction of bipolar world model (the disappearance of the USSR). Thus, the WTO depends on the tension between the most powerful states, and its main goal is to keep them from violation of trade agreement in order to save the global economic system.
The WTO realizes its goal of keeping the world trade order through the main six objectives.
- The WTO provides the rules for international trade and ensures their practical realization.
- It organizes a forum where the representatives of the WTO members can share their experience of liberal transformations in the trade sphere and find new ways for further development.
- The organization also plays the role of judge in case of international trade conflicts.
- It helps to increase the intensity of decision making in the international trade.
- The WTO collaborates with other global economic organizations (for example, such as the EU or NAFTA) in order to find some common solution for the same problem.
- The WTO also makes the participation in global economic relation easy for all the countries.
In fact, the GATT had the same objectives, but there is an important distinction in their interpretations. The WTO is the postindustrial global edition of the GATT postwar, and their controlling, predictive, and communicative activity concerns all possible spheres of the modern international trade relations.
According to the WTO website, this organization “is not just about liberalizing trade, and in some circumstances its rules support maintaining trade barriers — for example to protect consumers, prevent the spread of disease or protect the environment” (Understanding the WTO, 2015). Those details are also very important, and following this information, it is clear that the general function of the WTO is to preserve the world and separate the countries from each other. Thus, the WTO attempts to find some ways to gain the common profit, which is the reason of environmental, liberal and other vectors of the WTO policies.
Very illustrative example of how the WTO works is its politics toward Russia today. The militarist activity of this state threads to the global economic order because in the globalized world all economic space acts as one entity. In such a way, the WTO tries to keep Russia on its place through the economic sanctions, and the highest point of their actions would be total economic isolation of Russia. Such measures are very influential in the globalized economy with its regional specialized character. Economic isolation, in fact, totally separates a state from any collaboration with other countries, and such situation leads that state to economic, political, scientific, and cultural degradation. In such a way, the WTO has very powerful counterbalance to any kind of aggression or violation of its rules. The WTO has the ability to influence other countries through the manipulations with profits.
The EU is “a unique economic and political partnership between 28 European countries that together cover much of the continent”, according to the EU website (How the EU works, 2015). It is an international organization, which, as well as the WTO, concerns the trade aspects, but also many others. It “was created in the aftermath of the Second World War” (The history of the European Union, 2015), and it exists since the European Economic Community (Common Market) appeared in 1957 as an alternative to Communism of the USSR shared in Europe. Then, after the disappearance of USSR, “the ‘Maastricht’ Treaty on European Union in 1993 and the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1999” created EU in its modern form.
There are five central objectives of the EU.
- This organization secures the Europe from any international aggression (internal or external).
- The EU provides the liberal values such as freedom and the supremacy of justice within the territory of its member countries.
- It ensures the development of the economy in connection with European social values.
- The organization provides the competitive equality of the participators of the European economic growth.
- First, the EU is a “free single market” within its frontiers (Objectives of the EU, n.d.).
Such objectives illustrate the specific essence of the EU: it is the organization of all European countries, the main integrating principle of which is their civilizational unity. In such a way, the EU is an attempt to preserve the European civilization in front of the challenges of globalization. It is remarkable that the EU appeared as an antithesis to the communist influences from the Eastern Europe. The USA and the USSR were among the biggest countries in the postwar world, when the European countries were comparatively small. The only one possibility to compete with such giants as the USA and the USSR was to create the organization of European countries. Today this problem is more important than during the Cold War due to the huge economic growth of such territorial countries as China and India. Therefore, the economic alliance in 1957 was one of the initial steps, when the goal was to create the political union, which would be powerful as well as the world economic leaders.
It is different to compare the WTO, oriented only on international trade relations, and the EU, the main aim of which concerns the sphere of politics. Both WTO and EU exist in accordance to the principles of the supremacy of justice, democracy, equality and other concepts created by the European civilization. Both try to secure the world from aggression and protect the rights of the related parties, relying on the legal traditions of Rome. Moreover, the main difference between the WTO and the EU is their attitude to the problem of cultural and civilizational identity. Burca and Scott claim “two fundamental differences between the EU and the WTO - in the legal-institutional dimension and the policy-substantive dimension - lie at the heart of many of the tensions created by the application of the rules and norms of the latter to the former” (Burka & Scott, 2000). According to their research, the civilizational factor of the EU is not very important, and the main aim is to create the common economic space. In addition, through such a prism, the EU appears just as undeveloped WTO. However, such a statement is not true because both organizations are more different, and the EU has its own specific features despite genitive connection with the WTO.
International trade relations in the world exist through the prism of consensus between all the participants. In such a way, there is no specific cultural model, which all participants have to follow. However, they always set the most profitable and actual rules through the collaboration and sharing of particular experience. The main aim of trade is profit and further development of production, which does not depend on any civilizational specifics. That is the reason why WTO tries to protect the rights of all trading countries despite their civilizational specifics. Thus, the main criterion for the dominance in the trading relations is high quality of production and competitive advantage.
The EU exists in accordance with another methodological approach to international relationships. The word “European” in EU instead of “World” in WTO illustrates this cardinal difference: the main aim of the EU is to ensure not total equality, but equality of the Europe with other world leaders. The highest value of the European worldview is the European civilization and its cultural achievements. Moreover, the EU always contra poses Europe to other civilizational areas, for example, the East of the Arabian world. Good illustration of such specifics of the EU is existence of many far-right parties in Europe as well as “The National Front” (France) or “Jobbik” (Hungary) that are reasonably popular due to traditional Europocentric populist and chauvinist politics. The WTO even does not contain civilizational element in its objectives, but it is the central one for the EU.
While underlying the main common features of these organizations, it is clear that the difference has a methodological essence, namely the difference of approaches to the world. The WTO bases its work on the idea of common equality, which is the main condition of the economic balance in the world. The EU uses the same idea while applying its meaning only to the European countries. It is more difficult to make such comparison because the EU international trade exists in accordance to the WTO standards: “Being the world's major global player in the international trade, the EU supports the work of the WTO on multilateral rule-making, trade liberalisation and sustainable development”. In this sphere, it is important to note that the ideological presuppositions of WTO lead to multiculturalism, when more conservative EU tries to balance on the edge between Eurocentrism and civilizational egalitarianism.
In such a way, both organizations are equally ambitious but in different aspects. The ambitions of the WTO have extensive character and concern the setting of equality between all countries of the world. In this sense, the WTO has greater plans than the EU because its ambitions evolve all existing states, not only European continent. Moreover, the ambitions of the EU are greater due to their intensity: the main aim of this organization is to create the union, which is able to compete with the most powerful states of the world, in order to preserve the European civilization, culture and specific way of life. The WTO tries to be the supreme judge of the international trade relations, but the EU wants to win in all sections of this international competition.