Will Eastern Europe become the New Periphery to the Prosperous Nations of the West?
"Enlargement is one the most important opportunities for the European
Union as it prepares for the 21st century. It is a unique, historic
task to further the integration of the continent by peaceful means,
extending a zone of stability and prosperity to new members."
European Union Enlargement
At its summit in Luxembourg in December 1997, the European Commission
decided that the enlargement should encompass:
Â· the European Conference, a multilateral framework bringing together
ten central European countries, Cyprus and Turkey, launched in 1998 on
the 12 march;
Â· the accession process, covering ten central European countries and
Cyprus, launched in the same year on the 30th march;
Â· the accession negotiations, which the European Council decided to
open on the 31st march 1998 with six countries recommended by the
European Commission: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary,
Poland and Slovenia.
The European Union has already had many successful enlargements such
as the United Kingdom in 1973 and also Greece in 1981 and most
recently Sweden in 1995. So therefore there should not be any problems
with expansion again. However the expansion under consideration today
is different then before. It is unique because the area would increase
by 34% and also the population would increase by 105 million that will
also involve the membership of different cultures and histories.
Eastern Europe and the Balkans would benefit significantly by the
enlargement because of the single set of trade rules, a single tariff,
and a single set of administrative procedures.
Issues about Enlargement
There are many issues to have to deal with before enlargement takes
The enlargement would mean the growth of the European Union by at
least a third of its size again which could slow down the policy
making. The increase in diversity of interests could affect the
political issues that may also cloud the politics. The single currency
could also be affected and slowed down.
Initially there is the demise of the Warsaw Pact and many countries
have their own military issues. There obviously would also be a shift
in the European Union borders and the former Russian states asking for
European Union admission, which leads to the threat of eastern powers.
European Union unemployment is about 10% and the Eastern European
countries would obviously increase these. Unfortunately the
unemployment benefits at the moment would not encourage people to find
work. Even the more developed countries are having problems with huge