Monday 22 December 2008

The Czech EU-Council Presidency (1): Reviewing enlargement

In a Council document published these days, the working programme of the Czech EU-Council presidency in the field of economy and finances for the first half of 2009 is presented.

Beside the obligatory "crisis rhetoric", one of the issues on the agenda will be an assessment of the impact of the past enlargement of the European Union:
On 1 May 2009, five years will have passed since the biggest enlargement of the EuropeanUnion. The Presidency will use this opportunity to reflect in the ECOFIN Council and other Council formations on the economic impact of this enlargement on the whole Union.
I hope that this will be an honest assessment of what enlargement has brought to the Union, to the member states, and to the citizens.

Personally, I am convinced that the advantages outweight the disadvantages - and I hope that this analysis will bring some optmistic light for the 2009 European Parliament elections and for a Council Presidency that is expected to be much less EU-enthusiastic than some of the previous.

In any case, I think that such an evaluation will help to foster discussions about the future of the European Union, and the Czech Presidency is well advised to encourage these, not least for the sake of its own reputation.


Ralf Grahn said...

clingendael published a paper on the development towards less European interest and more national interest taking over at the Council.

Perhaps worth reading even if the findings are not politically correct.

Antal Dániel said...

I think this assessment is very important before the next round of enlargement - Iceland and Croatia, maybe. I hope they break down the assessment to different rounds of accession and the effect on old members and new ones. I am convinced that the EU is strong enough to cut good deals for the members, so usually both sides benefit, but the older members tend to benefit more. If I am correct this could be a case for further enlargement.

Julien Frisch said...

I agree that in the short run, the Western EU countries profit more, because they are already strong and can use the new freedoms more effectively.

However, as can be seen for example on the German border with Poland and Czech Republic, the new member countries gain in strength and where formerly Germans would travel to the neighbouring country for shopping, German shopkeepers now start to learn Polish or Czech to receive customers from the other side of the border.

So in the long run, I am convinced that all sides are profiting - which doesn't exclude that a number of individuals will be disadvantaged by the new situation.