The EU should not be viewed in too narrow a context. Whilst many of the factors that have influenced its development apply to it alone, many do not. This is most clearly seen in the ways in which global modernisation and interdependence, which have been crucial to the creation of many of the central features of the EU, have produced similar effects elsewhere in the international system – albeit usually to more modest degrees. Indeed, the EU can be viewed in many ways as a particularly intensified form of internationalisation. Of the many ways in which modernisation and interdependence have transformed the international system, one of the most important has been in the challenges it has posed to the ability of politicians to control events and forces. Of course, states have never been completely isolated islands in the sense of their leaders being able to act wholly independently and take whatever decisions they liked in the pursuit of national interests and preferences. In Europe this has been so especially for small states, but it has applied also to large states such as France and Germany in as much as many of their policies – most obviously their trade policies – have necessitated establishing relations and concluding agreements with other countries.
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