eu-enlargementNext week, Debating Europe will be attending a Friends of Europe event looking at the importance of EU candidate status for Serbia, and the sort of economic reforms that are still needed. We’ll have an opportunity to put some of your comments and questions to the panelists, so click here to send us your comments and questions and we’ll put them to Ivica Dačić, First Deputy Prime Minister and Serbian Minister of the Interior, Dušan Petrović, Minister of Agriculture and Trade in Serbia, and Silvana Koch-Mehrin MEP.

The topic of EU enlargement is something we’ve covered before, of course. In January, we asked if you thought the Eurozone crisis was making EU membership less attractive. We had some great comments, including a couple sent in from Croatians talking about their country’s recent EU membership referendum. This week, we interviewed Štefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement, and took some of those comments to him for a response.

The first comment we put to the commissioner came from Kris (though it was a point made by a number of readers) arguing that the Croatian referendum had such a low turn-out it raised questions around its legitimacy. Kris also complained about what he felt were bullying tactics from the “Yes” campaign. Is there a problem of legitimacy if a referendum has such a low turn-out?

I don’t believe there is a problem with the legitimacy of the referendum. Croatian law does not set a minimum limit for a referendum to be valid, and not participating is also a legitimate view. Everybody with a voting right had a chance to change the direction of the country.

There are two things here that are important: the negotiation process itself is indeed getting more and more difficult, because the Acquis Communautaire [i.e. the body of EU law] is bigger and bigger every day, every week, every month. The second point, and I think this is a fair point, is that the attractiveness of the European Union is, of course, suffering because of our inability to bring an effective solution to the current lack of confidence in the Eurozone. Despite a number of steps being taken, it will take time and, in the meantime, it has an impact.

Next up, Nikolai made the point that it might be unfair to expect prospective member-states to join the EU before they know what they are ultimately signing up to. Shouldn’t EU enlargement be temporarily suspended until after there is a clearer idea what the new institutional / constitutional arrangement might look like?

I have heard that argument before, and I strongly believe that suspending enlargement while the EU is evolving would benefit nobody. If you look at the history of the EU, you would realise that institutional changes have accompanied the EU throughout its history, from 6 [member-states] to 27. The fact the EU is changing constantly is a reflection of its strengths… Would you rather join a club that can’t keep up with the world?

We also had a couple of debates last year (here and here) on the long-term prospects for enlargement and the EU’s Eastern Partnership. We had a comment sent in from Victor arguing that the EU had to “hold out an olive branch” to Ukraine, or it might lose out to Russia’s influence. A similar comment was sent in from Nikolai, arguing that: “the key to the Eastern Partnership is Ukraine… Should [definite steps towards closer EU-Ukraine relations] fail to materialize… the EU will lose its geopolitical battle due to its sensibilities over the Ukrainian opposition being subjected to judicial opaqueness and eventual incarceration.

How would you respond to such comments?

If you look at the revised neighbourhood policy: without creating an alternative to EU membership, we are developing a political framework which enables countries like Moldova and Ukraine to get as close to the EU as possible… We have made it clear that the definition of “as close as possible” should be interpreted as those countries having a possibility of becoming part of the EU single market, through the adoption of most of our Acquis Communautaire.

If I may, the point about looking at these issues from a geopolitical angle is not really helpful, because our version of regional integration is seen as opening up multilateral links and not closing them down… The process is not about choosing between Moscow versus Brussels.

What do YOU think? Should EU enlargement be suspended until after the crisis? Is there a problem of legitimacy if voter turnout for membership referenda is too low? And is the prospect of EU membership still important for candidate countries? Let us know your comments and questions on this topic and we’ll pose them to the politicians at the Friends of Europe event next week.

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – morburg

77 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Alexandru Voicu

    It would be really hard to sustain further enlargement considering that meanwhile the EU leaders are struggling to avoid disintegration of the EU.

  2. avatar
    Andy Price

    “Has the Eurozone crisis made EU membership less attractive?”

    Evidently not. Some states still want to join. States should not be allowed to join until their accounts & laws have been gone over with a very VERY fine tooth-comb, unlike what happened in the past.

    “Is there a problem of legitimacy if voter turnout for EU accession referendums is too low?”

    No, people have a choice to vote (one way or the other) or not vote.

  3. avatar
    Josephine Cassar

    I think the problem concerns more the attraction of EU membership than if enlargement should be carried on; I hope the euro crisis is solved and does not take longer; it has taken long enough and risks putting off countries previously willing to join. Otherwise the attraction of the EU will wear off, even as a Single market. A club that have arrived at the point of not being able to solve such problems because rules were not kept by who should have seen to their keeping, does not offer any security at all and crises will erupt in other areas, as in Hungary’s recent unconstitutional law

  4. avatar
    Nikolai Holmov

    First of all I feel the need for clarification as I am mentioned in the main body of the article.

    Whilst it is absolutely true I do question the rationale for any would be applicant to the EU to do so now in such a time of massive internal flux, I did not propose the enlargement process be suspended due to the crisis or any other reasons.

    The simple fact is that even with the enlargement process officially open, it is de facto closed anyway as no EaP nation is anywhere near the Aquis Communautaire or Copenhagen Criteria etc and even if they were, during the Polish EU Presidency it was publicly stated further enlargement (other than Croatia and possibly Iceland) was out of the question until 2025-2030.

    However, Mr Fule has little option to sing the EU pollit bureau line – He is after all responsible for EU enlargement and therefore cannot be quite as bluntly honest as the Polish were during their EU presidency. He does has a budget and job to justify.

    My point though still remains that how can an EU applicant seriously consider membership when it must give up its currency for the Euro, allow budgetary oversight (possibly/maybe), has no idea whether in the future its foreign policy will be directed by the EEAS or not and could see long term, historical and trusted trading partners subjected to EU sanctions with very little they could do about it and more than likely no compensation from the EU should that happen.

    Mr Fule talks of the aquis communautaire as EU enlargement which it is not. The DCFTA and AA currently pending and likely to be shelved between the EU and Ukraine would not be membership or even count as an application for membership despite being the most ambitious set of negotiations between the EU and an EaP nation.

    Enlargement is full EU Membership and not enlargement of the single market with parity amongst laws and standards. They are completely separate.

    The enlargement of the single market for Ukraine does not provide for votes in the EU parliament over issues that would affect Ukraine, it is highly unlikely to allow for ministers to sit on the EU Council either (and if it did they would have no more than observer status) and thus to compare the single market and/or aquis communautaire to enlargement is misleading to say the least.

    Further he is not being that transparent about a choice between Brussels and Moscow. It is quite clear that if Ukraine joined the Customs Union the DCFTA (and AA due to EU coupling of the documents) would be a dead duck.

    That is a clear cut choice between Brussels and Moscow when it comes to the integration he talks about. It is an absolute geopolitical choice, even if he thinks it is unhelpful to say so.

    • avatar

      No EU country should be allowed to join the euro without a second referendum. The eurozone & EU membership are so different now, the right of countries to join one without the other should be explicit.

  5. avatar
    Paolo Virizí

    The EU has reached a point in which it is no longer a Union. The views, ideologies and approaches to politics and economy of the countries are extremely diverse, and it has provided for an internal crack.

    Enlargement should be stopped, because the majority of candidate countries would not bring stability but even more turbulences to an already troubled EU.

    The only exception could be Iceland; and of course Switzerland and Norway in – the less than probable- case they wanted to join.

  6. avatar
    Ivan Shopov

    This is a sully question, Serbia and Croatia should join of course, there is no doubts about that. Also in the future the Union should accept other countries. On the current moment there is need of restructuring the way the EU works perhaps

  7. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    For me all European states have a future in EU..Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Serbia, Croatia, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, FYROM, Azerbaijan… Some of them can enter asap if they wish, some of them need more time to be ready, or Europe needs more time to be ready to accept them..Personally I think that Croatia, Serbia, Iceland should join asap…Norway and Switzerland if they decide to do so…The rest of the states withing the next 20-25 years or so gradually…But I hope we have learned from our mistakes. Once a country joins, efforts for reform should not stop and EU should not be just an economic or trade club, but a social, political, military union.. Equality, stability and progress and prosperity should be available for all states..I do not think that the current way that the EU is led is appropriate, but I guess we are not ready to accept the fact that there can be a democracy in a international level and not only on a national one…Give it time and I hope we can realize our potential..

  8. avatar
    Nikolai Holmov

    What will be very interesting given the increasing support for Serbian accession by Member States such as Germany, is what will happen to Kosovo.

    Kosovo can never ever be an EU candidate as a significant number of EU Member States don’t even recognise it for very obvious internal reasons.

    As those Member States don’t recognise it, the EU can hardly engage with it when it comes to membership and it also begs the question why Kosovan police have been trained at the cost of Euro hundreds of millions over the past 4 years with funds from Member States who don’t recognise it. (Let us not ponder why in such a small geographical area and at such EU expense of training the Kosovan police no major organised criminal has been brought to justice, despite them being well known to all and sundry).

    When the eventual enlargement of all the Balkan nations occurs (and it will), how will the EU deal with a landlocked Kosovo relating to EU encirclement and with no prospects of membership?

    How, in fact, can the EU even have a position on Kosovo when so many Member States don’t and won’t recognise it?

    Another case of the European Commission ignoring the non-recognising component parts of Member States MEPs and ministers on the European Council?

    Just asking!

  9. avatar

    Future of EU integration is in creation of small economic Units such as (example): Balkan Economic Federation, or (for ex.) Southeastern Economic Initiative … etc. .. etc. .. BUT, the same economic grouping should be the model for the EU Member States , as will financial pressure so the EU will be evenly distributed and so will be held and open to the idea of ​​EU enlargement with new members. EU enlargement is a process which can not be stopped because it can slow down and undermine the democratic process in countries of young democracy!

  10. avatar
    Avni PONARI

    1. Why the Serbian government applies two different standards with its neighbors countries? With Montenegro, that has the same language, religion, traditions and mentality, who had a referendum to require the separation from Serbia and obtained it, the relations are decent and there isn’t any problem between the two countries. On the other side, the opposite is going on with regards to Kosova.

    2. What is the real interest of the Serbian government in keeping an open conflict with Kosova that is already a separate republic, with its own borders, government and self-supporting?

    • avatar

      Dear Mr.Avni
      I think that you talking about two different things:
      1.Kosovo WAS a part of Serbian territory, Montenegro was not. Montenergro Republic was inside the ex-Yugoslavia. WAS Serbian province of Kosovo (like Vojvodina today) with its own Parliament and Government which was obliged to respect the laws of Serbia (Serbia like Federal laws …), but had their own legal decisions. Do I right? Quite another question is what are the people who lived in Kosovo (I speak for all nations) suffered due to wrong policy decisions, but on both sides (Belgrade and Pristina), between the end of WW II, until today. This is a very long story that has no place here, right? I’m not saying who is right, saying that there was no double standard policy of Serbia and then, after the democratic changes, absolutely NO because Serbia has changed a lot from inside. Milosevic (ex-pres.) was defined Serbia as a country that wants War. The Serbian people is not like that, I think it is very well known to all who visited Serbia after 2000th Of course there are people in every Nations, group of aggressive or ultra right-wing hooligans options, that does not matter who will be their next victim.Correct? Please, do not undrestand this like political opinion, only like the facts.
      2.Interest of the Serbian government in keeping an open conflict with Kosovo? WoW! No. Serbia is very important to the story of Kosovo will be completed as soon as it was losing a lot of energy to the problem, it is perhaps an obstacle maturing democratic Serbia. Imagine that you are the president of Serbia and that part of your territory wants to be separated by force (a fact, it was the war)? What would you say your citizens? Do you think that any president of any country in the world was supported by the citizens, to agree to such action? And then you say that Serbia wants to keep open conflict on Kosovo? I’m not sure about that.
      b.regards from Serbia !

  11. avatar
    Avni PONARI

    Dear Mr. Vasiljevic,

    I thank you for your answer but on the other side I’d like not to go through history because it is too long. I don’t remember exactly who said it but a well-known person has stated that ‘ If we don’t know where we come from, we won’t be sure where we go to’. I am not an historian but there is one thing I know for sure: since I was born I’ve been listening to your radio even though it was prohibited for us. I’ve heard about genocide, imprisoning, murders and rapes that one part of a population of the same republic pursued to another part: to Albanians.
    I am aware of the fact that you are more informed about all this and your consciousness may encounter more situations and events but I’d like not go further on this.
    What I’d like to say is that Kosova is a state such as Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia and Albania where people like you and I live, who have their own aims for a safe and evenly life, they want to build their own institutions, their state and everything they deserve to have. What I asked you through my two questions is related to something very important. The history should be written, remembered and talked about but is not appropriate to repeat itself by not supporting the mankind whoever these people might be.

    My question consists in something else: how long was the war in Yugoslavia aiming to keep the republics all together, who carried it on and why? At the end they are all today separated republics. As I mentioned, Montenegro who has only 650,000 inhabitants, had a referendum and was separated by Serbia even it has the same language ( except the Albanian population), the same religion, the same traditions; they still asked to be disjoined instead of living together. On the other side, it took lots of blood to other republics to disjoint such as to Kosova that even though now is a separate republic we see that in the northern part of it conflicts and incidents are still occurring. Following you question, my question is ‘ Isn’t Serbia incapable to stop these conflicts and bring back life to normality between borders until the moment we wont need any borders and be in the same position as the European states today, Schengen states?
    Wouldn’t it be better for our children to see life differently, more friendly and care about each-other. As for the hooligans, I think that such people are everywhere as they do not have any origin but they shouldn’t be supported by anyone.

    Concluding, I wanted to mention the most important thing: I wish that Serbia will get the status of the candidate country to enter the European Union but I would agree for Serbia and Kosova to get this status in the same time.

  12. avatar
    Glas Srpske

    1. After obtaining the candidate status, what requirements Serbia has to fulfill on the path towards full membership in the European Union?

    2. After obtaining the candidate status, can one expect a change in trade relations between Serbia and neighboring countries, primarily the Republic of Srpska and Bosnia and Herzegovina?

    3. How can Serbia’s candidacy positively affect the other countries in the region that are on the path towards the EU?

  13. avatar

    Dear Mr.Avni
    I was pleased to read your comment and I agree but mostly NOT with your opinion, but I respect your views and mine. What is really important is that we both agree that our children must have a clearly defined future, better cooperation and to never again be War between our two nations, never again in History. Its my and yours job.
    I know you will agree, and I want, to you personally, and to your people (as the future of Serbia) in harmony in the EU ! Perhaps we will again have a comment for another topic…You have open invitation to be my guest in Serbian, the city of Vranje in Southern Serbia. I have many friends of Albanians here, I want you to know this fact. Kind regards.

  14. avatar
    Phạm Lê Quốc Việt

    I dont see any relevant reason to stop “opt in” countries to joint EU. but they need to make much effort to modify internal fiscal policy , particularly : imply the fiscal and political decentralization to the lowest level of gov to reinforce the budgetary responsabilty and financial autonomy to coincide the the 3 cycles “voter-payer-beneficiary”. we have too much problem with national government in the countries with hight level of fiscal centralization.

  15. avatar

    The EU suffers already under overextension. If it has any future, then in a kind of a “variable geography”. If enlargement policy remains as it was in the last two decades, it will only lead to a short lived unproductive dictatorship, something like the “1000jährige Reich”, lasting not more than a few decades.
    The strength of Europe emerges from its diverse nations. Everything which weakens the substance of these nations will weaken Europe as a whole. Anybody who has some understanding of history will notice that the so called “post-national” age is actually the return to a pre-national era, just that technology has advanced further and the feudal aristocracy has been replaced by a supranational meritocracy, lacking broad legitimation. This is not for which the Europeans will exchange democracy and nation, achievements which demanded so heavy sacrifices. Of course, to take full advantage of this evolution cooperation is necessary. But for this we need a much more enlightened framework than the current EU.

  16. avatar
    Catherine Benning

    The first question here is, what is it you want Europe to be? Secondly, in the same vein, what is it you see as Europe? Where does Europe begin and end for you? Or, are you really asking about globalization? And whether the people are voting for that.? Especially as this concept was put into practice without a vote from the people of this union we have. Globalization is a confidence trick. Who, with a sane mind, could vote for that?

    Do you really believe the stable, productive countries in Northern Europe want to bankrupt themselves by uniting with more unsustainable economies than those we are already trying to bale out, so far without success? Let alone different views on the social factors of the hodge podge already arching under the strain from unworkable multiculturalism and diversity forced on the States people, who pay for it with their taxes, without once asking them if they wanted this?

    It is ludicrous to even contemplate, at this point in time, opening the borders further. In fact, the better option would be to remove some of what is already there. Return perhaps to a more workable entity that used to exist before the wrong moves it made with the fake economies hiding the reality of their fiscal inadequacy moved in to llive off the fat of the land.

    What does Europe need these States for? What is the purpose? Bringing the Europe we know and love to its knees in order to satisfy those who wish to exploit its benefits is the thinking of small minds. But to move into it at the speed you did, without a mandate was unconscianable.

    Look what it did to Napoleon. Followed by the infamous Hitler. All they promoted by their greed was devastation.

    So, I vote no. Get Europe on its feet before you even begin to think of expansion. And whilst you’re at it, bring it back to a working union of productivity so that we can all thrive without the overwhelming and suffocating debt we have.

  17. avatar
    Mario Micallef

    Why is it that the EU uses 2 ways and 2 measures with such a difficult topic of relations between Serbia & Kosovo? I cannot understand why Serbia needs to give up 1/3 of its legitimate land to have EU membership…and then with regards to the Serbs in Bosnia(Republika Srpska) they weren’t allowed to form a greater Serbia. Who can guarantee that if this happens, then Vojvodina won’t follow suit? It is so obvious that some EU members don’t recognise Kosovo’s independence because they fear such thing could happen on their own soil.

  18. avatar
    Mario Micallef

    thanks for your link…from the beginning it already smelt of American propoganda…and i really don’t like when they interfere in european politics…I put again the question..if this is the way of doing politics…why can’t serbs in Bosnia secceed and join Serbia? nobody ever came up with a reply to this..there is obvious hidden agenda…

  19. avatar
    Zoltan Kiss

    It should stop until its internal problems are solved and it can promote wealth again. For now all it promotes is austerity.

  20. avatar
    Massimiliano Sortolano

    if things are going this way, better stay out, the united states of europe have gone wrong since the start of the euro and the economical politics they are using, austerity cause rcession, but not one in the european parlament understand that

  21. avatar
    Fulub Hosking

    I see that you have not included Mebyon Kernow – the party for Cornwall – amongst the European Free Alliance / Greens for the United Kingdom. Please could you rectify this situation. The MK website can be found here:

  22. avatar
    Rich Oldroyd

    Definitely time to stop enlargement of the single market; only a moron would envisage Greece and Germany as part of the same economic space. The current crisis is testament to what happens when blindly-dogmatic ideologues of the ilk of van Rumpuy and Barroso become so fixated on political agendas that they ignore economic realities. Tragically, they aren’t the ones currently paying for their stupidity.

  23. avatar
    Xavier Schoumaker

    Massimiliano – actually in the EuParl they do understand “that” – the issue is with the Commission (appointed by national leaders) and Council (international instead of supranational institution) where “austerity” comes from.

    If there was a little union, perhaps the people’s voice and sovereignty could be restored, instead we have ignorant racist hypocrites like UKIP who will blame the democratic process and promote dictator-like national powers for leaders to slow down the whole process because they’re puppets of his Majesty, defender of the fearful ignorance, Rupert Murdoch.

    Enlargement is not a problem, democracy is, let’s bring that onto the agenda instead of fear of foreigners like the above people from UKIP love making an emotive plea about.

  24. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    People quickly forget.. It was these parties that led Iceland in the crisis and destroyed its economy… People forget so nothing progresses in Europe and we are going in circles.. As to if the country should join or not, well I am a strong supporter of further EU expansion and European integration. I want to see all European states in the Union. But as things are at the moment in European politics , perhaps it is best for the to stay out. Pity.. Europe remains a conservative continent afraid to change,so perhaps we get what we deserve.. We lost Norway because of De Gaul’s stubborness, we are losing Turkey because of some members’ interests and now we are going to lose Iceland and the valuable door to North Pole because of our elites’ infactuation of austerity and inner bickering!! Shame!!

  25. avatar
    Ignacio C. Furfaro

    Rich Oldroyd, you stated that “Only a moron would envisage Greece and Germany as part of the same economic space”. Well I guess that taking that logic as basis for our analysis, we should then state that “only a moron would envisage California and Arkansas as a part of the same economic space” or “only a moron would envisage Massachussetts and South Carolina as a part of the same economic space”.

  26. avatar
    Jovan Ivosevic

    I am not even sure why enlargement is such a controversial topic at this point because so few countries are left to join. All of them are small and none will become a strain on the EU’s resources. Let’s face it, the Ukraine, Moldova or the Caucuses will never join because Russia will not permit it without a fight that neither they nor the EU wants to have. And while Turkey may be a candidate, they have clearly stopped going down that path, partly because Europe has told them no and partly because their own government has decided to go in a different direction. So we are talking about Iceland and the Balkans.

    Iceland, like Norway, is free to come in or stay out without much controversy, and Europe has essentially committed itself already to admit the remaining Balkan nations, esp. in light of Lady Ashton’s mediation between Serbia and Kosovo this month, which would not have happened without Brussels committing to an EU future in the region. If the EU were to go back on its word now, Brussels would lose all credibility to ever make a deal on anything else, Serbia would probably join the CSTO, Russians troops would soon thereafter be stationed there and the region would become highly politically unstable. So we have a handful of countries left, all but Serbia are under 5 million people and Serbia is a little under 8, and that is basically the end of enlargement. It’s almost done.

  27. avatar
    Matt dovey

    Why would Switzerland, Norway, Iceland etc want to join the eu? What’s the point? What does the eu do to make the life of any ordinary citizen of a well off country any better. Answer is nothing.
    If your country is not so well off, it suffers from poor infrastructure, poor rule of law, poor human rights then the eu might be seen as a benefit. But if the country you live in is already providing a good standard of living, you have good human rights and rule law, etc the only thing the eu brings to your country is increased taxes and bureaucracy and uncontrolled immigration.
    The eu does nothing and has done nothing to improve my life. I pay for it in my taxes and see little return for it. My politicians tell me that it is wonderful and it is needed yet they are so unconvinced by there own arguments that they will not give the people of my country a in/out referendum on continued membership.
    So enlargement is a some point going to come do

  28. avatar
    Jovan Ivosevic

    @Rich Oldroyd: Actually the current crisis has nothing to do with Van Rumpuy or Barroso. Its roots begin in the flawed concept of the euro in the Maastricht treaty which was negotiated in the late 80s and early 90s, when they thought a single common currency could be run without a unified central bank (which the ECB is not) or common fiscal policy by the member states.

    So when it worked, the euro brought unprecedented expansion in trade and had it been set up like any other currency on the planet, which was objectionable to eurosceptics, neither Greece nor any of the other PIIGS countries would have been able to get away with what they did ito their budgets n the last decade. And the reason why the EU can’t get out of the recession now is because Europe’s center right from Merkel and Cameron on down have decided that nothing that history has ever taught us about economics is true so let’s use austerity to get ourselves out of recession, the complete opposite of what has worked before. using the wrong economic policy has nothing to do with the EU’s institutions or enlargement. As someone pointed out to you, all nations have differentials between poorest and richest regions. The best thing that could happen to Europe at this point is for the German SPD to win at the next election.

  29. avatar
    David Fuzzey

    LOL Xavier…you pro eu types just cannot handle those that disagree and want no part of your union…..but do carry on chap….you are one of the best adverts for leaving.

  30. avatar
    Matt dovey

    (See above ipad went mad) Down to convincing the ordinary citizen the benefit of eu membership. The problems in the euro zone have high lighted to a great number of people that the “eu project” is flawed. The ordinary man/woman on the street just don’t see the point of it. It has no relevance to someone from a better off country because they have no use for it.
    The eu isn’t needed, the project should be scrapped. Before any more damage is done an ill feeling generated.

  31. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    Sim o alargamento da UE deve continuar e por isso á que haver mais responsabilidade dos estados mais poderosos com os estados menos poderosos e por isso vivemos numa europa de direitos democraticos e não de tecnocráticos que querem esvaziar a democracia europeia

  32. avatar
    Jovan Ivosevic

    @David Fuzzey: In all seriousness, have you considered the unwanted effects that UKIP’s rise will now have on your country? Two reasons Ed Milliband is not losing – half the Lib Dem voters at the last election have gone to Labor because they are disappointed with the coalition, and the Tories are being more challenged from the right than ever before since Thatcher became PM, mostly by UKIP. The result is that a guy who would lose as badly as Foot or Kinnock any other year may become PM. And while this is certainly not a long term consequence, what about the fact that your rise is forcing Cameron to take increasingly more right wing stances on Europe and other issues? Have you considered what that could do to Scottish public opinion if England lurches so far to the right ahead of its referendum next year? You want to leave the EU, but you may end up losing the UK.

  33. avatar
    David Fuzzey

    latest poll 2 thirds of Scots voting against independence 80% of English in favour of Scottish independence…..the more opposition th the eu the better.

  34. avatar
    Jovan Ivosevic

    David that gap will tighten before poll day. Lot of campaigning left to do. So you want the Scots out too? Sounds like you want to tear down what has been built not only on the last 30 but the last 300 years.

  35. avatar
    David Fuzzey

    I didn’t say I was in the 80% , but we aren’t voting ,nor are the Welsh or Irish……just Scots…those under the voting age and eu types in Scotland…and with all that still 2 thirds are against….this Thursday I will be voting UKIP , as I will in 2015 General Election,(If I still reside in Britain that is , which is very doubtful)….but not next year as I have never bothered to vote in your unions election and never will.

  36. avatar
    Berta Mediano Esquefa

    of course EU-membership is less attractive! since we are living in a german-dominated europe!! in the actual EU, democracy is being eroded, only merkel, her fellows, and and austerity politics rule.

  37. avatar
    Peter Schellinck

    The project Europe is far from finished and it’s not only a matter of enlargement but common sense. How the hell are we going to face the rest of the world if we don’t unite? We’ll be less then 9% of the world’s population! Why don’t we stop looking at our own umbilical point and wake up to reality. Our voice will be heard and respected providing we are aligned, organized and trustworthy.

  38. avatar
    Vicente Silva Tavares

    For the Southern European countries it is better to leave the Euro zone. I agree with Peter as an ideal, however, the German politics and its satellites, are killing our economies.Even if we reach a point to survive the Euro and get stability, this will imply the Euro is going to be appreciated toward other currencies and stopping the possibility of Southern Europeans to have a chance of developing. Only leaving the Euro they have a chance of developing and again getting an industrial fabric. The very low European custom tariffs are killing the less industrialized economies.

  39. avatar
    Jovan Ivosevic

    Vicente, for either northern or southern europeans to leave right now would be like passengers jumping off a ship in the middle of the Atlantic when it is 1000 km from shore. Best to fix the ship because it is fixable, and because no one is coming to the make no mistake, Germany or Spain, at this point either will drown.

  40. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    How about industrializing the Southern economies to make them more compatable with Germany’s? Will Frau Merkel agree to that or would she be afraid of the rising competition?

  41. avatar
    Avni Ponari

    While talking about the extension of the European Union, we must discuss especially on the economic extension and union of a boundaries-free Europe that also includes free trade within its range.
    The different economic levels within Balkan states lead to differences also in lifestyle by so causing differences in reunion. The question here is whether is fair to have such differences within a region and living in two different ways: in two different economic and intellectual levels as being two totally different worlds?

    Wouldn’t be fairer for all Balkan states to be part of EU in the same time through the approval of a legislation package instead of entering EU by lobbing separately?
    The best way for these states is to be simultaneously candidates and all of them to became members as they’ve state long enough ( 50 years) outside Europe and sharing border with it. Why should they wait another 50 years? It would be better a diversified Europe rather than a separated Europe as it was decades ago.
    This is the only way Balkan can progress rapidly and will be faster part of Europe.

  42. avatar
    Jovan Ivosevic

    Christos, when the Greek government got a substantial reduction in the cost of borrowing after joining the euros 10 years ago, and tourism revenue was high, that was the time to make investments in infrastructure, human capital and industry. Greece was of course only more guilty than other members, but hardly the only one of squandering that money on unproductive spending. Now it’s survival time. It’s doubtful that Mediterranean countries will be able to catch up anytime soon with unemployment rates in the low to mid 20% range.

  43. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    I do not doubt that but instead of investing our corrupt politicians were making deals behind our backs with the rich industrial elites of rich countries and overspent in buying submarines and tanks that we did not need making us poorer while and themselves richer.. It is not just Greece’s or Germany’s or Ireland’s fault and so on.. It is all our governing, political, financial and inustrial elites put together fault… Yet it is the poorer people if the poorer countries that only suffer… How fair is that?

  44. avatar
    Jovan Ivosevic

    Christos, you are not seriously blaming German voters for electing Greek governments in the last ten years are you? The reason Germany is weathering this economic crisis better than the rest of the EU is because Gerhard Schroeder 10 years ago made major reforms to social service benefits and made Germany’s labor market more flexible. As a result, the economy has been able to bounce back faster. Ten years ago, this was an incredibly unpopular move, so much so that Schroeder lost the Chancellorship and the SPD has never recovered in the ratings because a part of it went off to form Die Linke with East German ex-communists. But he did it for the good of his country. Greece, Spain, Portugal etc. simply do not have politicians with that sense of duty of country before party or self interest, but it is up to them to earn it, or at the very least, to not blame others if they have not yet established it. You can’t blame the Germans for looking out for their own self interests. The better question is, why didn’t Greeks elect people who will fight just as hard for Greece’s? And the reason is simple. Politicians stole and the voters were silent, so long as voters evaded paying taxes and politicians stayed silent. That consequences of that strategy are now coming to the surface.

  45. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    I am sorry Ivan but I will disagree with you… First of all from where did you manage to grasp that I blame the Germans for everything? Or for all Greece’s woes? When I clearly stated that I blamed all European political, industrial and economic elites?Including that of Greece.. You seem to forget that Juncker admitted that he and many other EU and European politicians knew what was going on behind the Greek people’s back but he remained silent.. In his words, he could not do anything about it.. If the Greek people knew that our Government was wasting money in buying weaponry that we did not need all those years from our “partners” they would have revolted.. WE DID NOT KNOW, it was all revealed by our media now that the crisis came and it is too late… If European politicians did reveal the scandal, perhaps the Greeks and all Europeans would know what was going on… As for voting for the politicians, well you got to understand and learn the modern Greek history before you make ignorant comments like that.. And it does not apply only to Greece, but Ireland as well where I live.. Both countries are small, that emerged recently from old colonial empires.. We are about a century old democracies and European powers never let us do whatever we wanted.. Greece particularly could not even sneeze if Europe told us otherwise, every since we got liberated from the Ottomans…In all this instability and constant foreign meddling, do you really expect people to form an independent political view and psyche? When our older generations had to endure decades of poverty and absolute deprivation that was sometimes created by mistakes of our government and other times by the interests of the European powers!! You seem to forget that Germany not only never repaid Greece for the WW2 damages, but they forced us to get a loan that they would benefit from but we had to pay for it.. For the decades that followed we were paying the loan while Germany was being rebuilt with US money.. And our governments compromised with the German elite not to demand these money back, with God only knows what exchange.. Perhaps the entry of Greece in the EEC? So yes, I do blame our government as well with all elites of Europe.. If they have left us on our own and did not get us involved in all the power mongering wars and interests perhaps we would not have had this corrupt elite established… You also seem unaware how was Europe rebuilt after WW2 and all the struggles that some countries had to go through while others never had to deal with… If Europe has left Greece alone in the two wars, perhaps we would be in a much better position.. Sweden never got attacked, invaded, pillaged, and obliterated for the past God knows how many years, and that is why, with all this stability they managed to create a very admirable political system… Stability is what we need… Not lecturing!!!

  46. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    I am sorry but I see red when I read stupid arguments like “you Greeks should not tax evade and be careful what you vote for” bubblegum!!! First of all not everybody tax evades in Greece that is nonsense.. If the state gives you the option in its laws it passed to be able to pay less tax if you do not finish your house properly, that is not tax evading… I am sure the Germans would do the same if there was this loophole in their laws.. But there isn’t.. It is the state’s job to close the loopholes and make sure the finances are in order, just like a housewife is responsible for her household finances and not the children in the house.. Besides, not all regions of Greece have these laws… In the region of Northern Greece where I come from, all houses are finished if you come and see… No one leaves his/her home unfinished.. It seems that this exception exists in the islands only that the tourists go, so the rumor was spread that all Greece is like that.. Perhaps the Greek islands have other tax exemptions that the mainland Greece, because when our family had to built a home, we had to finish it… Unless we are stupid… Also when people “advise” us that we should mind who we are voting for, well can you tell that to our older generation that grew up with nothing after WW2, in absolute deprivation and instability because of the wars that Europe created? How do you expect a person with no education at all and not trustworthy information to vote “for the right politicians”? How can I expect my grand mother that never gone to school to have a “responsible” political opinion? Are you crazy? In a democracy everyone can vote, and unfortunately it is the older generation that keeps voting for the same parties that Europe favors to do business with, because they have established a very good relationship of master and servant all these decades.. Europe dictates, we obey… So please, stop the stereotypes and let’s deal with the crisis in a pan European level…

  47. avatar
    Nikolaos Sotirelis

    Ivan you are indeed trying to keep an objective position. However you are easily, accuse Greece and the rest Southern countries, although fair enough. On the other hand I never saw you blame Germany and their satellites, as the main source of this impasse policy.
    I won’t refer to the reasons of this crisis, because it’s a very big chapter and we haven’t enough space here. I will however, tell you three things.
    1) When someone borrows money with warranty the power of a currency, if the borrower cannot pay it back, then the loses should be paid by all the involved, including the currency and the creditors. Not only the borrower.Whole nations are damned to poverty, for the safety of Euro and the richness of certain creditors.
    2) When you are making a company, then all partners share the winnings and the losings. If a partner make profits against the others, this make him a common crook.
    3) If a creditor tries to secure his money, the he should provide to the borrower the possibility to pay him back. By strangle him economical, I don’t think it’s a clever idea.

  48. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    Greece accounts for only about 2% of the euro zone economy.. How can this 2% be blamed for the crisis only and how can this 2% be asked to save the block… Europe focused too much on Greece and resoled to slander, in order to place the whole blame on one or a small group of countries, while the fault lies elsewhere.. America started the crisis yet no one points the finger on them and slanders them.. The euro was designed poorly yet it is the faults in Greece that created the cracks with their “laziness” and “tax evasion”.. The leaders of Europe needed a scapegoat to blame, and save the reputation of the euro and their decisions… If they didn’t the whole European population would stand against the euro… As of course they increasingly are!! Recently Poland is seen as Europe’s rising star.. And I am very glad for them indeed because they deserve it.. But they have a industrial basis, because the Germans were locating lots of factories over there after the Communist block collapsed.. Location and proximity is one of the reasons but also a factor was the very very cheap labor force of Poland at that time… Why didn’t the Germans built factories in Greece and other regions? Because we had more expensive labor force.. We did have better laws and certainly less red tape or instability than Poland at that particular time.. And we had already an established industrial sector, though tiny compared to their that could be beneficial.. So what I am trying to say is that sadly, even among “partners” or “allies” help only comes if you absolutely become submissive to your investors. And that is what is all about in the case of Greece now… To invest in Greece they want to bring the wages so low (as they have) and destroy all social policies that protected the Greek working force from certain abuses… Yes reforms were needed in Greece, but we haven’t seen those kind of reforms that would actually correct all wrongs in our country…No reforms on the taxation system to make fairer or more transparent.. All the so called “necessary” or “helpful” reforms were against the Greek working class that have impoverished the nation and now hinders all potential growth from within… They are now trying to fire 15000 civil servants..Without creating new job opportunities.. Where are all these people going to go, since they are no jobs in Greece? Wouldn’t be wiser to create these jobs first and then fire the workers so that they can find new jobs? Is that the growth that Europe has in mind for us and other regions? Seriously?

  49. avatar
    Javier Sánchez

    Of course the Union must be enlarged. People who think Greece and Germany couldn’t be part of the same thing also think that societys are racially different. I think the societies of Europe could be part of the same thing ‘cos they have interest commons and democratic principles. The people who want the Union to disappear, really just understand the nations as a mytichal, religious, racial realities. But of course EU may to solve its economical problems before enlarge itself, and the next country to access should be Turkey.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Javier Sánchez
      It’s not race or democracy or religion or myth that are the issues its corruption – the Club Med countries continually rip-off their Northern European neighbours and obstinately refuse to acknowledge their poor record in terms of honesty and accountability.
      Only when the Club med countries get their collective act together will a re-structured EU (EU 2.0 if you like) struve towards a possible rosy future.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      We should strive for EU diminution NOT enlargement.

  50. avatar
    Marcin Sawicki

    Montenegro will be the next country to join the EU! It will be at 2020 the earliest.

  51. avatar
    Matt dovey

    Mihail, Iceland don’t want to be part of the eu! They voted against further integration. Last report I read says most Turks now do not favour joining the eu. The only country’s that want to join are the penny less ex soviet counties. Even half of the ukrain wants to be part of Russia.
    What makes me laugh is this pathetic argument that we need the eu because we are to small to go it alone with out being in a union. Let just think about this. Australia, Japan, India, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, newzealand, Brazil, etc, etc. none of those country’s need to be in some stupid political and monetary union.

  52. avatar
    H Quad

    Is the interest of EU leaders in deepening integration with Ukraine, up to and including membership, realistic and sincere. Do domestic politics in member states support Ukrainian membership in the mid-term?

  53. avatar

    The EU enlargement should expand to only beneficial countries to Europe such as icland. Some countries such as Greece, Romania, and Bulgaria should be kicked out of European Union as they seem to be burdens for the EU. They are overwhelmed by issues before they entered the EU and those issues are still present. They weren’t fit to enter in the first place. The EU made a mistake about letting them in. Countries such as Serbia should most certintly not be let in due to similar issues correlating to Greece, Bulgaria, and Romania. Serbia is like mini Russia and would present its self as a burden or rather problem.

    • avatar

      If you kick out countries like Greece and Bulgaria they fall straight into the hands of Russia.

      We really don`t need more enemies in Europe.

  54. avatar
    John Zachos

    If EU feels that it needs enlargement, let organize an Eurasian Union with a Russia inside!

  55. avatar

    If countries want to join the EU, they should apply. If they meet the criteria, they should be admitted. The EU must not actively pursue enlargement because this leads to corruption. The EU can passively pursue enlargement by making the EU attractive for other countries to want to join.

  56. avatar
    kevin Mezzone

    What the EU has already is incompetently managed. Its joint venture into Ukraine with the US has erupted into a regional war in which innocent civilians on both sides of the divide are being butchered and for what? Ask the Greeks? It is no good asking the German politicians they are too busy buying Greek assets and I guess islands.

    Why any non-EU country entertains the idea of EU membership and worse the single currency given the Greek debacle – and that is an unfinished story – is a sign of gross ignorance of that country’s politicians.

    Enlargement should be stopped – and if all was rosy in the EU why is the ECB printing free Euros for the banking sector?

  57. avatar
    Lamborghini P.

    Against. We have too quickly expanded and too much to east.

  58. avatar
    Paul Reichberg

    EU must be composed by all european nations with the exception of Russia which by itself is to large to be able to act as an equal partner in EU.

  59. avatar

    The EU enlargement process needs to take proper account of the many citizens of western Europe who fear freedom on movement combined with a large difference in living standards will cause mass migration. There needs to be a proper system of transition & infrastructure support for receiving towns.

  60. avatar
    Michael Hales

    What about: the European tax havens?

  61. avatar

    For the next couple of decades Europe should concider Iceland, Cape Verde and The countries of the former Yugoslavia to join along with Albania…. After that it should take a huge process re-aranging its policies to accomodate the people and laws of these countries…. For the time being Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Iceland are the most easy to join… Ukraine and Belarus must make many steps forward with Belarus having serious problems on political freedoms.

  62. avatar

    Not only NO, but HELL NO!
    Stabilize what we have, first and foremost, make it work, and then we will talk again.

  63. avatar
    Paulo Lisboa

    «I do not think so! Let`s stop, and think after make more mistakes».

  64. avatar

    Honestly; no! The EU should not have expanded to the extent that it already has. Any conception of further expansion is just crazy and power lust.

    I say; the EU should cancel the “candidate countries” of Serbia, Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia and focus on making the best of what we have!

    One of the key issues for the British leaving the EU was over expansion. Wake up EU!!

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