Grade: Middle

#3304. Exploring the Objectives of the European Union

Social Studies, level: Middle
Posted Sat Dec 4 07:58:44 PST 2004 by Dr. Elie (
Materials Required: See Plan

Students will:
1. Identify the fifteen member nations of the European Union on a map; speculate on how these countries might benefit from being in alliance with each other; understand basic details about the history and goals of the European Union.
2. Examine, in small groups, several of the main objectives of the European Union; present objectives to the class.
3. Explore the key objectives of the European Union and the impact of the EU's threat to diplomatically isolate Austria by reading and discussing "Europeans Threatening Austria Over Anti-Immigrant Party."
4. Assess how the issues explored in the news article read in class relate to the European Union objective studied.

Resources / Materials:
-photocopied map of Europe (one per student, obtained from the Internet or world history or geography textbook)
-colored pencils (one per student)
-student journals
-classroom blackboard
-copies of "Europeans Threatening Austria Over Anti-Immigrant Party" (one per student)
-five computers with Internet access (one per small group)
-five large pieces of poster board or construction paper (one per small group)
-five markers (one per small group)

"European Union," from Encarta Online's Concise Encyclopedia (
"European Union (EU), European supranational organization, dedicated to increasing economic integration and strengthening cooperation among its member states. The European Union was established on November 1, 1993, when the Maastricht Treaty, or Treaty on European Union, was ratified by the 12 members of the European Community (EC; created in 1967)-Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. Upon ratification of the treaty, the countries of the EC became members of the EU, and the EC became the policy-making body of the EU.
Under the Maastricht Treaty, European citizenship was granted to citizens of each member state. Customs and immigration agreements were enhanced to allow European citizens greater freedom to live, work, or study in any of the member states, and border controls were relaxed. A goal of establishing a common European currency was set for 1997."

Activities / Procedures:
1. WARM-UP/DO-NOW: Prior to students' arrival in class, place a photocopied map of Europe and a colored pencil on each student's desk. On the board, list the fifteen member nations of the European Union (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Austria, Finland and Sweden). Then, write the following directions for students: "Locate the European countries listed on the board on your map, and shade them in lightly. Then, write a journal entry about how these countries might benefit from being in alliance with each other (politically, economically and socially). Why would these countries want to work together?" Students then share their responses. Provide students with a brief introduction to the history and goals of the European Union (you may want to refer to the Background section of this lesson).
2. Divide students into five groups, and assign each group one of the main objectives of the European Union (new rights for citizens, freedom of movement, employment, enlargement of the European Union to include central and eastern Europe [Agenda 2000], launching of the euro). Using the Internet (particularly Web sites associated directly with the European Union), each group investigates the following aspects of their assigned EU objective (written on the board for easier student reference):
--Why is this objective a key element of the European Union?
--How is the EU attempting to meet this objective?
--What will meeting this objective mean for the EU member countries (politically, economically and/or socially)?
--What successes and obstacles have EU member countries met in trying to meet this objective?
Groups record the answers to their questions on a large piece of poster board or construction paper titled with their studied objective. Each group then provides a brief overview of their EU objective for the class, using their poster as a guide.

3. As a class, read and discuss "Europeans Threatening Austria Over Anti-Immigrant Party," focusing on the following questions:
a. What warning did the European Union issue on the day that this article was written, and why?
b. What does it mean that "Austrian ambassadors 'will only be received at a technical level'"?
c. The fifth paragraph of the article identifies Haider as a "racist" and "xenophobic character." What does this mean?
d. Why would the isolation of Austria from the EU cause a "diplomatic crisis," given what you know about the objectives of the EU?
e. How did Haider react to the news? How did others in the European community react?
f. What does Haider's party support that goes against the objectives of the EU?
g. Why would Israel threaten to cut off diplomatic relations with Austria?
h. What other current scandals are occurring in the governments of several of the European Union nations?
i. What specific references are made that relate Haider's views to those of Nazi Germany and the Third Reich?
j. Why might Haider be referred to as a "political chameleon"?
k. How do Austrians feel about the political turmoil in their country?

4. WRAP-UP/HOMEWORK: Each student writes a reflective journal assessing how the issues explored in the New York Times article read in class relate to the European Union objective studied in his or her small group. In a future class, small groups should reconvene to compare journal reflections, and each group can then present their thoughts in a round-table discussion.

Further Questions for Discussion:
--What is the European Union?
--Why would a European country want to become a part of the EU? Why would a country not want to become a member of the EU?
--What might be the political, economic and social effects of isolating Austria from the European Union for the people of Austria?
--What might be the political, economic and social effects of isolating Austria from the European Union for the other member nations of the EU?
--Do you think that the potential for "punishment" of Austria by the EU would result in a change of policy or leadership in the country? Why or why not?
--What other current situations and individuals in the world might be viewed as "racist or xenophobic"?
--If you were a representative in the European Union, would you support the isolation of Austria based on what you know from the featured article? Why or why not?

Evaluation / Assessment:
Students will be evaluated based on initial journal response, thoughtful and thorough group research and presentation on an objective of the European Union, participation in class discussions, and final reflective journal response.

diplomatically, bilateral, integrating, xenophobic, inevitable, consultations, counterpart, patronage, coalition, reiterated, ratcheted, denunciations, atrocities, enumerated, surveillance, endorsed, deported, imposing, sanctions, opportunist, redolent, negligible, receptive, asylum, patronage

Extension Activities:
1. Investigate other European Union news to examine how different EU decisions and obstacles promote or detract from the objectives of the EU.
2. The article quotes Alexander van der Bellen as describing Jrg Haider as a "political chameleon." Explore Haider's career and determine whether or not you agree with the label of "political chameleon." What changes did Haider make throughout his career, and what triggered those changes?

3. Learn about the political parties in Austria, examining the issues supported and the objectives of the supporters and politicians (the article mentions the Freedom Party, Social Democrats, People's Party, and Green Party.)

4. Review the positions of the different member nations of the European Union on various decisions made by the EU. Who are the EU leaders from these countries, and what are their backgrounds? How would you describe each country's historic and current relationship with Austria, and how might each country be affected if Austria is isolated from the EU?

5. Create a timeline of significant political and economic events in 19th and 20th century Austria, focusing particularly on Austria's relations with other countries in Europe.

6. Research the rise and fall of Germany's Third Reich. Why would some compare present-day Austria to Germany under the Third Reich?

7. Learn about other coalitions currently existing among nations. For what reasons do countries ally, and what have been the historic results of these alliances? How do the objectives of these alliances compare to those of the European Union?

8. Explore the different ways by which groups isolate or shut out their members. What are the effects on the group as a whole, the isolated member, and the other members? What situations, historic and personal, can you think of in which the looming threat of isolation brought the group closer together? How can isolation of one member tear a group apart?

Interdisciplinary Connections:
American History- Select historic figures from different eras in American history who you would qualify as "racist or xenophobic characters." What impact did each individual have on the course of history in the nation, both negative and positive?
Language Arts- Imagine that you are an EU representative from a nation of your choice. Write and present a statement about your views of whether or not the EU should isolate Austria, supporting your views with facts and examples.

Media Studies- Explore and evaluate how the European media is covering this news story. Ecola Newsstand ( is a fantastic resource of English-language newspapers from around the world.

"European Union," from Encarta Online's Concise Encyclopedia (

Other Information on the Web
The European Union's Web site ( includes news and a primer on the EU and citizenship in it.

Academic Content Standards:
This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning in Aurora, Colorado.

In addition, this lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards of a specific state. Links are provided where available from each McREL standard to the Achieve website containing state standards for over 40 states. The state standards are from Achieve's National Standards Clearinghouse and have been provided courtesy of Achieve, Inc. in Cambridge Massachusetts and Washington, DC.

Grades 6-8
World History Standard 43- Understands how post-World War II reconstruction occurred, new international power relations took shape, and colonial empires broke up. Benchmarks: Understands factors that brought about the political and economic transformation of Western and Eastern Europe after World War II; Understands post-war relations between the Soviet Union, Europe, and the United States
Connect to State Standard
World History Standard 44- Understands the search for community, stability, and peace in an interdependent world. Benchmarks: Understands influences on economic development around the world; Understands the emergence of a global culture
Connect to State Standard
Geography Standard 11- Understands the patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface. Benchmarks: Understands issues related to the spatial distribution of economic activities; Understands the primary geographic causes for world trade
Connect to State Standard
Geography Standard 13- Understands the forces of cooperation and conflict that shape the divisions of Earth's surface. Benchmarks: Understands factors that contribute to cooperation or conflict within and between regions and countries; Knows the social, political, and economic divisions on Earth's surface at the local, state, national, and international levels; Understands the factors that affect the cohesiveness and integration of countries