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Assess The Impact On The Eu Of Any Of The 1995 Accession States: Finland

2231 words - 9 pages

On the 1st of January 1995, Finland as well as Sweden and Austria officially joined the European Union (EU), bringing membership to 15. In addition to increasing the EU population by 21.6 million inhabitants, this enlargement raised the EU Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by roughly 7 percent. The three entrant countries were all former members of the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) -a zone then economically less dynamic than the European Community - and had already had previous relationships with the Community through the European Economic Area (EEA), which linked the EFTA with the EU. More specific to Finland, its economy was declining mainly because of the 1990 collapse of the USSR, to which Finland was historically, economically and geographically strongly tied. Compared to the EU average, Finland was a relative small Member State in many respects, which may lead us to think that its influence on the EU was extremely limited, if not inexistent. Yet voluntarily or not, the country has had positive, but also more damaging, impacts on the EU's budget, institutions, foreign and domestic policies, not forgetting Finland's role in the evolution of some specific EU policies.As a Member State, Finland has had an impact on several specific EU policies since its entry. One of the most sensitive areas was arguably agriculture, for Finland traditionally subsidised it even more than the EC did with Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). This reflected a deliberate policy of ensuring that Finland's arctic and subarctic regions remained populated -mainly for security reasons, Finland sharing 1,300 km land borders with Russia. As parts of the acquis communautaire, common EU prices would have normally been directly applied but, in the case of Finland, this would have led to an agricultural crisis (Preston 1997: 100). Britain had also many trade and financial interests in dealing with Finland within the EU framework and this led to last-minute concessions known as the Northern Support Scheme. In addition to degressive aids facilitating a gradual price alignment, the Community classified 85% of Finnish agricultural land among the Less Favoured Area (LFA) and therefore received ECU 457 million compensations (Kuosmanen 2001).Finland, as well as Sweden, have benefited from specific regional funds since 1995. At the time when entry negotiations took place, the criteria used to attribute Structural Fund aids were mainly focused on the wealth of a region compare to the rest of the Community. However no Finnish regions at all qualified for Objective 1 Structural Fund aid -i.e. GDP per capita below 75 percent of the EU's average-, although the regions close to the Arctic Circle could not survive without any external support. An Objective 6, based on a low population density, was hence added (Gower & Redmond 2000: 73) and included more than 830,000 Finnish people, who were given on average 122 ECU per person per year from 1995-1999. Nowadays, Objective 6 does not exist...

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