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Author(s): Andras Inotai

Journal: Romanian Journal of European Affairs (RJEA)
ISSN 1582-8271

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 36;
Date: 2002;
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Keywords: enlargement | European Commission

In the last weeks, several declarations preferring the scenario of the large-group (big-bang) enlargement of the European Union (EU) have been made both by member-countries and the Commission. Although the latest Commission reports, including the enlargement strategy paper, mention the previously unquestionable performance criteria of membership, according to which only adequately prepared countries fulfilling the fundamental accession criteria can join the EU, they emphasize that in the near future not less than ten countries may be able to reach this goal.This position is clearly supported by the fact that, with the exception of Bulgaria and Romania, all candidate countries can close the accession negotiations in the foreseeable future. Moreover, despite the general consternation among present and future members of the EU, the French foreign minister announced the possibility of a twelve-country enlargement. It cannot be excluded that the political decision on the modality of enlargement has already been taken. Thus, supposing this case, it is a justified question whether it still has any sense to consider any potential scenario of enlargement. I am convinced that it is justified for three reasons. First, at present, there is not yet a clear EU position concerning the enlargement. As long as this position is open, all kinds of discussion are not only justified but also welcome. Second, the experts dealing with this topic can hardly abstain themselves from participating in the debate. Professionally and morally, they are (should be) committed to call attention to the potential dangers that, in my view, could seriously damage not only the future position of the candidate countries, but also the future of the EU and of the whole continent. Third, some developments seem to indicate that the discussion about the pattern of enlargement has just reached a turning point. This is the last moment, in which the evolution of such processes can be prevented, since its consequences might condemn Europe to damage limitation, instead of strengthening Europe’s stability and global competitiveness. The basic idea of this paper was generated by knowing and feeling that perhaps, it is not yet too late.

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