European Union enlargement is the process of expanding the Union through incorporation and allowing accession of new members states and sovereign countries. This process took off with the first six members who were the founding powers of the European coal along with the steel community which was the European Union precursor in 1952. Since then, the Union has been expanding to the current twenty seven members with the more recent incorporation including the Romania and Bulgaria in the year 2007. At present there are negotiations underway with many states who wish to start the Union’s joining process.
The expansion process is in most cases referred to as the European Union integration. Nevertheless, this term is often used to refer to the increased cooperation levels between the member states as the member states’ government are allowing for cooperation of the more common laws. According to the (European Union online 2010), for a state to be a member of the EU, it has to accomplish a lot of economic and political requirements which are famously referred to as the Copenhagen criteria (which is after the june1993 Copenhagen summit).
In addition, any potential country that wishes to join the European Union needs to have not only a stable government but also a democratic government that respects the rule of law of the international law along with its corresponding institutions and freedom. In accordance to the Maastricht Treaty, each and every current member state and also the European government must agree to any expansion (European Union 2010).
Further expansion of the European Union will highly benefit the existing members. With the earlier addition of member states to the European Union, it has emerged stronger, more confident and hence more capable of acting and presenting itself in the world stage. More important, en enlarged European Union will help the union to tackle the prevalent threats that cannot be confined in any manner to their geographical borders. For example the existing climate change problems and also to fight against organized crimes and to the broader perspective, the terrorism menace. Close cooperation with the neighboring states could form a very vital force for dealing with such problems and challenges. While this explains how the existing countries have extensively benefited in this union, it should also address the benefits of further unity that will come with expansion. Also, the potential members would as well benefit in the same way. The prospective member states are: Turkey, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Croatia.
Further expansion will enhance more economic efficiency, create an extended playing level for business, drive more and more innovation and also provide an extra funding to the community. For example, by expanding the union, France will meet the challenges along with the challenges that are being currently presented by globalization. Most of the prospective and newer members have economies which have much lower cost which makes them very attractive production sources for business expansion to the country. The potential members will be at the same position as the older members to reap these benefits. If these prospective members joined this Union, for instance, their workers would go to work in the United Kingdom market where the wages is more likely to me much higher and also the benefits that come with accessing the markets of the other member states. For these countries’ economies membership to the European Union is a means of attaining stability and growth. An expanded European Union also invites a broad cultural discussion and creativity. A very good and an exciting example of this is the “Enlarge your vision” which is the 2010 young Journalist Award that was launched by the EC’s directorate general to see more enlargements.
So, for the European union to attract more and more members, it should address two main factors including; the economics and security.
In conclusion, it can be seen that there are many advantages that accrue to any country that joins the EU. This is further enhanced by the Cecchini report, that shows a rise of evidence to believe there is a much increase in the states’ GDP as a result of the common market that are produced by the expansion if the European Union countries. The obvious raise in GDP will raise the living standards of the EU member states.
The potential benefits and challenges of joining the European Union are most likely to come from many perspectives and directions. This ranges from the potential benefits of the heightened economies of scale to the problem that the poor countries would receive a high budget from the already existing EU states. More so, if the European Union should be able to permit new members, it should at all time ensure that their decision making processes are not compromised but remain accountable to the larger EU. It should be in a position as it continues its expansion of implementing common policies to all the areas and also finance these policies equitably to all the new and existing areas in a very sustainable manner. The other key component of expansion should be harmonization of the important areas of the policy by involving coordination of policies on all the nation’s businesses and regulating the competition, taxation, fiscal policy, monetary policies and the environmental policies.
How the enlargement would affect the Businesses
If enlargement takes effect, many things would happen including;
Break down the barriers to trade and the businesses. The existing countries will highly benefit from accessing a larger market for trade and investment in the entire world. On the other hand, the consumers will also benefit by being given the opportunity of choosing from a wide range of goods and services from the extended markets and also at a favorable prices. Integration will also encourage the growth of GDP both to the existing member states and the newly joined members and this would also require changes to the institutions which are within the EU (Kardas and Saban, 2009).
Through integration, the well established corporations of the existing nations will be faced with a lot of opportunities. Especially with the addition of more members and expansion of the union, the corporations will be able to reach more customers and cheap labor for their companies and products. This will increase their economies of scale with low cost of production and hence it would be a very bi boost to the existing members’ states (Piket and Vincent, 2010). The main aim for the 1957 treaty of Rome was to establish a common market for all the nations. For instance, if Turkey was allowed to join the union, they will cancel the barriers to trade like the tariffs along with the non-tariff barriers to align itself with the EU current policy. Therefore the products of the member countries will move to a more big market easier than before. The new member states will also open new investment opportunities to the existing member states due to their low economies. Therefore, expansion of the EU makes a lot of sense both to the joining members and the existing members because a lot of export opportunities would be opened up for the existing members.
The companies in the existing member states will enjoy a cheaper labor force from the joining members. This is because the existing member states like the France and the United kingdom have a very high living standards hence more and more workers from the eastern Europe nation will always flow into these labor markets and hence this will lower their production costs.
Owing to the fact that France, Germany and United Kingdom are still the word’s most important financial centre, the integration of the Eastern Europe region into the EU is a win situation. The integration will increase the prosperity of wealth in the new members and hence stimulate economic growth in the existing member states. This is because their market will experience an addition of 100 million more consumers into the existing market if this enlargement was to be honored. All the remaining barriers between the countries would be removed. All the legal and technical trade barriers will be no more (Piket and Vincent, 2010). The trade possibilities and investment would be further enhanced and high expected economic growth would radically enhance the consumers’ purchasing power in the prospective nations. Increased trade would be so much valuable as a contribution to the functioning of the enlarged European Union and hence the economic development of the whole continent.
The European Union’s expansion is seen as the most successful foreign policies even though it has in many instances suffered a lot of resistance. For example, France has alaways been very opposed to enjoy this enlargement. The British membership was vetoed by France as they actually feared the United States’ influence. Also according to (IISS 2008) France was so much opposed to the Greek, Portuguese and Spanish membership as they feared that these states were really not ready and hence it would dilute the European Union down to a Free trade Area (ESI 2006). The biggest reason why the first members applied and were accepted was basically economical, while for the second enlargement, it was much more to do with politically instigation (IISS 2008). The southern Mediterranean countries in the Europe were just recovering from dictatorship and also the single party government hence they wanted to preserve their democratic system security through the European union and also the EU wanted to be sure that their counterparts in the southern region were stable democracies and also a move to steer them away from any possible influence by the communists. These two main factors, the economical factor and also political security has been the driving force towards enlargement of the EU. Hut with the recent expansion of 2004, the European public opinion has turned against any further extension. Also, it has been eminent that there are expansion limits and hence the Union cannot expand all through (ESI 2006)
So as to understand these enlargement limits, we have to understand the effects that these enlargement may have on the European Union.
Since the break of 2005, when the proposed treaty by the European constitution was rejected in the France and the Netherlands referenda, a debate on the enlargement drawbacks has since gained more intensity. The senior politicians across the Europe have since called for a slowdown in the expansion or even a permanent seizure of such enlargement. A lot of opposing enlargement voices had hit the headlines, which have created the impression of the future enlargement to be hanging in the balance (ESI 2006)
One of the biggest factors that are turning the public opinion against this enlargement is the threat of immigration that may lead to overpopulation and hence stressing the resources of the Europe. The old Europe members fear influx of people that may come up by adding more members to the Union. Owing to the fact that the older European Union members’ states public, the France and the Britain, are very hostile to the foreign labor markets, makes this to be worse. In fact, the immigration factor was the main reason why the constitution was defeated in the Dutch and French Referenda of the year 2005. Another big problem is posed where the highly skilled work force of the member states will leave the country for the other new member states. The new member states would alter the economic boom that comes with joining the European union falling into economic decline and more and more money would be demanded from the European Union budget so as to keep the economy afloat (Bache, 2006).
More so, further enlargement would also insert, more and more pressure on the European Union already struggling administrative system. With the failure of the constitutional planning, and also the unpopularity of the Lisbon treaty, it basically lacks the integration degree that is needed for effective decision making along with its implementation. Also owing to the fact that the European democracy is still lagging behind the limited progress that is being made in the strengthening the executive powers of the union, accommodation of more new members would not make any sense. (Bache, 2006)
There seems a very little doubt that at this point, the classical European Union would have reached its end. For sure a lot of questions about the European Union relations with other countries which are further east like the Caucasus (Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia), Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova still remain (Bache, 2006). Although these questions will obviously be solved through varied processes that would involve more limited sovereignty sharing with the European union’s member states. Consequently this may well become a very much attractive deal for turkey in the coming decade. If the European Union expansion was put to a halt right now, it would be very disastrous not only to the peace of the continent but also to the democracy in the broader European Neighborhood. Nevertheless, we need a definition of the broader European commonwealth that is not binding to the both sides into the mainly detailed legal structure that was drawn up fifty years ago for the European countries which were facing quite varied challenges.
The existing member states are very afraid that their markets might be swamped by cheap imports from these new members. Most of the markets that are vulnerable to this threat are the politically sensitive markets like the agricultural markets and the textiles where the European Union has imposed very high tariff barriers so as to protect the domestic producers.
Also, there is great fear that the contribution of the well off states to the European Union budget would rise more considerably following this integration. If more poor countries join the union, and the regional along with the CAP payments are maintained. It is deemed inevitable that there would be large budgets transfers paid by the existing member states for the new members.
Some nations also fear that there will be a delay by integration to the plans that are underway to move the union to even greater economic and political union. It might be very difficult for the implementation of a single currency if in that period more members are joining the union.
Both labor and capital movement could also pose a very big problem. There is a very high fear that capital would slowly stroll to the new members with cheap labor while workers from these states would move in huge numbers from the newly joined states to the already existing countries having instigated by the high wage rates in these states.
This shows the potential challenges that would be experienced in case of EU expansion. The main challenge is the inability for these states to reach the total economic integration. Also, different economical blocks or countries in the enlarged European Union may require different fiscal and monetary policies. Normally countries like United Kingdom require high interest rates so as to encourage savings while discouraging consumption, a country like Hungary would consider reduced interest rates so as to increase the consumers’ expenditure and consequently increase the aggregate demand which will in advance lead to an increased GDP (Kardas and Saban, 2009).
These would form an arena of conflicting policies that would affect adversely the running of the union. It is also clear that Germany, France and UK posses a vast GDP advantage comparing with the Czech Republic and Hungary which are the prospective members of the union. This brings up a concern regarding the convergence requirement in the economies within the European Union and in regards to the monetary policy. In 2008, it was confirmed by Nicola Sarkozy and Angella Merkel, the French president and the German chancellor respectively that the EU cannot enlarge any more than the current twenty seven states without undergoing a reform to the institution of the present treaty of the nice laws. This kind of reform could only happen if the Lisbon treaty comes into action (Piket and Vincent, 2010).
In a broader perspective, we can see that the benefits of EU integration highly outweigh the limits. The enlargement hence makes a lot of sense to both the existing and the new members. For the prospective members, access to the European Union implies a very high potential for raising trade and also cooperation. Also, this will be on the other hand a golden opportunity to the existing members’ companies. During the last ten years, these countries’ investors and exporters have secured a great dominance in these markets and exports have increased drastically. Many researchers have proved that this market could be multiplied many times if the existing member countries allowed further integration to the East Europe countries. Hence there is a lot of sense in enlarging the European Union.
Presidency Conclusions, Copenhagen European Council 1993
Piket, Vincent (2010) EU Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, Institute for Strategic Studies
Beyond Enlargement Fatigue? The Dutch debate on Turkish accession, EuropeanSecurity Initiative 2006
Bache, Ian and Stephen George (2006) Politics in the European Union, Oxford University Press. p540–542
Kardas, Saban (13 May 2009) Merkel and Sarkozy Call for Privileged Partnership Angers Turkey, Jamestown Foundation
European Commission (2005-11-10). “1972”. The History of the European Union.
European Economic Community Treaty, Art”7Potential candidates, European Union’s official site