Fabian Demicoli

Lesson 2: EU Enlargement and getting on with neighbours

Europe in 12 lessons Uniting a
Continent – The European Union is open to any
European country that fulfils the democratic, political and economic criteria
for membership. Enlargements have increased the EU's membership from six to 27
countries. Croatia is set to become the 28th member state of the European
Union. Enlargement of the EU has helped strengthen and stabilise democracy and
security in Europe and increase the continent's potential for trade and
economic growth.

Admitting a new member requires the
unanimous approval of all member states and the EU must assess its capacity to
absorb the new entrant/s. Turkey applied to join the EU in 1987. Given Turkey's
geographical location and political history, the EU hesitated for a long time
before accepting its application. Some EU countries have expressed doubts as to
whether Turkey will or should be allowed to join and propose instead a
‘privileged partnership' but Turkey rejects this idea.

How large
can the EU become?

The western Balkan countries are also
turning to the EU to speed up their economic reconstruction and consolidate
their democratic institutions. Potential candidates are the former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia,
Iceland and Kosovo. Despite fulfilling the EU accession conditions,
Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are not members of the EU because public
opinion in those countries is currently against joining.

By the end of this decade, EU
membership could grow from 27 to 35 countries. This however might also require
changes in the way the EU works. During the negotiation period candidate
countries normally receive EU ‘accession partnership' aid to help them catch up
economically.

Public opinion among EU countries is
more or less divided over the question of the EU's final frontiers. If
geographical criteria alone were applied, taking no account of democratic
values, the EU could end up with 47 member states including Russia. Russia's
membership however would clearly create unacceptable imbalances in the EU, both
politically and geographically.

Membership
conditions

1. Lisbon Treaty: Any European state may apply to become a member of the
European Union provided it respects the principles of liberty, democracy,
respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law.

2. Copenhagen
criteria: Lays down 3 criteria they should fulfil so as to become members:

  • Stable
    institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect
    for and protection of minorities.
  • A
    functioning market economy and the capacity to cope with competitive pressure
    and market forces within the Union.
  • The
    ability to take on the obligations of membership, in clouding support for the
    aims of the Union.

 

 

 

Geographical
frontiers and Neighbourhood policy

Stability and security are an issue
in the neighbouring regions that border with the EU members regions Action for
example was needed to tackle emerging threats to security such as illegal
immigration, the disruption of energy supplies, cross-border crime and
terrorism. So the EU developed a new European Neighbourhood policy (ENP),
governing relations with its neighbours to the east and to the south.

Almost all these countries have
bilateral ‘partnership and cooperation' agreements or association agreements
with the EU, under which they are committed to common values. On its part the
EU offers financial, technical and economic assistance, easier access to visas,
etc…

 

 

 

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