EU needs new philosophy to help enlargement

EU's enlargement cannot take place without the renewal of the whole philosophy of the Union. This claim is at the heart of criticism directed at EU's enlargement plans which were approved at the recent Helsinki summit.

According to Esko Antola, Jean Monnet Professor at the University of Turku, the eloquent promises of a stable and wealthy future are in flagrant conflict with the real capabilities of applicant countries and the operational capacity of the EU. In an article published in Helsingin Sanomat (8 August 2000), Antola questions the wisdom of increasing the number of applicants to 12. This decision has brought into play countries which are far from fulfilling any criteria for membership.

Professor Antola thinks that the way out this dilemma would be some kind of half-way status on the road to full membership.

"Otherwise there will be a revolution of growing expectations and deep European frustration", he writes.

"It is as painful for the EU to prepare for enlargement as it is for the applicant countries to fulfil the membership criteria. Both groups of countries face frustration when the objective proves elusive as problems become ever more urgent."

Antola also points out that some of the problems which emerged during the previous enlargement have not been solved. And now the question is how to create an efficient Union with 27 members.

One of the debates mentioned by Antola is common defence. He writes that only Nordic politicians still talk about crisis management. Everywhere else the term is defence policy and eventually defence.

"One needs more than a 60 000-strong rapid deployment force when enlargement makes the Union a neighbour to the crisis areas of the Balkans and Caucasus."

In addition to institutional and financial questions, Antola sees public opinion as major problem.

"National debate on enlargement has not even begun in present member countries. Their governments have to be able to sell future solutions for their citizens. This challenge calls for a totally new approach",  Antola concludes.

See also:

EU enlargement will reduce number of Finnish MEPs

19 May 2000

Estonia urged to exercise patience on EU membership

17 May 2000

Non-aligned countries face European security turmoil

12 May 2000

EU openness aided by public dispute

5 May 2000

"Small EU states have a definite interest in deepening integration"

17 March 2000

EU applicants have to weed out corruption

29 February 2000

Small EU countries and the case of Haider

10 February 2000

"EU defence will make non-alignment redundant"

6 January 2000

EU preferred to NATO on crisis management

30 November 1999

Citizens' rights emphasised as part of EU reform

26 October 1999

Defence plans alarm small EU countries

16 October 1999

Changing EU voting rules would be undemocratic by Hannu Reime

October 1999

Power of big EU countries raises questions

October 1999

Non-aligned countries face problems with EU defence

13 July 1999


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