Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The new European Economic Area

The European Union is starting to look eastwards, and what it sees are six countries with European aspirations: Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

And in order to meet these "aspirations", the Commission proposes to create a "new European Economic Area", as EUobserver observes:
The future EEA will require the six states to "take over the entire acquis communautaire [the EU's legal code], including the acceptance of European Court of Justice rulings."

The Eastern Partnership will aim to create visa free travel in the long-term, but to waive the cost of obtaining EU visas more quickly and to set up Common Application Centres in the six countries to help people enter the EU's passport-free Schengen zone."
Additionally, this initiative will lead to a doubling of EU funds for this Eastern neighbourhood of the European Union.

However, this (possible) move of the Union cannot hide that the different countries included into this package have quite different starting positions when it comes to democratic and economic development.

I can only encourage the EU to take these steps, but seeing the slowness of the countries in their internal reforms, their lack of political professionalism, and their unresolved relations with the big neighbour - Russia - makes me kind of reluctant to believe in substantial developments.

Yet: Every little step towards improvement is a good step, especially if it helps the people of our Eastern neighbours to enjoy more and more those freedoms that we EUropeans are already savouring, not least an increased freedom of movement on our common subcontinent.

2 comments:

Bayowolf said...

Belarus?? Last that I heard, they were joined at the hip with Russia, wanting to remain so, and hoping that, somehow, the USSR will be reborn.

Julien Frisch said...

Indeed, Belarus seems to be the least likely candidate on the ticket... :-)