Fabian Demicoli

ECOFIN Council Meeting

 COM (2009) 79 – Communication: Five years of an enlarged EU – Economic achievements and challenges –

This Communication focuses on the economic aspects of the largest EU enlargement (2004) exercise carried out. It indicates that despite fears of possible disruptions the situation has been smoother.

It lists achievements reached – significant improvements in the living standards of new Member States, rapid trade integration, rapid modernisation of new MS economies, a key driver of new MS growth has been investments from older MS, restructuring through cohesion policy funds, new product market regulations (including competition and state aid), workers' opportunities have improved (although new MS may have been faced with various problems due to this) among others. Concerns of massive labour migration in older Member States have also not materialised to the degree feared.

The global crisis presents the EU with a number of challenges. To address the Communication lists the need for sound fiscal policy, structural reforms in line with the Lisbon Strategy, enhanced country surveillance both by the Commission and the Council to foster the right policies, the implementation of the cohesion and rural development policies, and the use of EU policy and financial institutions for support.

Looking ahead the Commission states that full integration of national economies and income convergence is still to be achieved. Thus Cohesion Policy shall continue to play a key role. The EU's agenda shall see that the benefits offered will extend well beyond the economics.

Source: MEUSAC Economic and Financial Affairs Sectoral Committee

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