Enlargement will create the largest single market for trade and investment in the world. UK companies will benefit from access to this market for trade and investment, with up to 500 million consumers - around 100 million more consumers than now and bigger than the USA and Japan combined. This huge market will boost UK trade, jobs and prosperity. A study by the Centre for Economic Policy Research estimates that enlargement will add £1.75 billion to UK gross domestic product (GDP).
The Single Market is very important for the UK business. Enlargement will benefit companies from across the UK. Trade Partners UK estimate that around 15,000 UK companies are currently involved (exporting or investing) in Central and South East Europe (excluding the Baltics), of which 75% are SMEs (less than 250 employees). Enlargement will encourage more companies to take advantage. For example, 1,000 new UK companies registered an interest in exporting to Central Europe following British Trade International’s “Opportunities in Central Europe” trade and investment campaign last year.
An example of good economic and diplomatic relations is the UK-Czech Republic case.
The UK has some privileged links with the Czech Republic. In fact, over 60,000 Czechs work for more than 300 British firms established in the country, and around 11,000 Czechs already live and work in the UK. As P.Hain explains, British consumers and businesses will depend directly on Czech administrators, judges and customs officials for the safety of the products they buy; or the enjoyment of their rights as EU citizens; or for equal treatment in the Czech market. And the same applies in reverse. They need each other.
As a consequence, the British Council is playing a leading part in the UK’s efforts to help the Czech Republic join the EU by 2004.
In general UK is positive toward the enlargement. But the government seems to be careful about the immigration problem and all the Home and Justice affaire of the applicant countries.
Moreover, Germany seems to be the most involved in the enlargement. As the German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder said : ‘We will not have enduring peace in Europe if the European Union ends on the eastern border of Germany or the western border of Poland.’
Germany has a common boundary with a lot of CEECs. In fact, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary lie on its eastern frontiers, forming the zone between it and the former Soviet Union. Moreover all of them were involved in German’s history. Since the World War Two, the German foreign policy is deeply involved towards the eastern countries, especially the fall of the Berlin’s wall in 1989. The reunification of Germany has open its frontiers towards the East.
Enlargement is very important for Germany because since years, it has settled company in CEECs and created some important relationships with them. It will bring positive economic effects. In fact, in recent years their immediate neighbours to the east, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary have become important trading partners for Germany. Growth in trade with the Central and Eastern European countries has been above average. This trend is expected to continue. The German government predicts that as a result of the accession of these countries GDP in Germany will grow by around 0.5%. In 1998 Germany's trade volume with the acceding countries amounted to around DM 142 billion. For Germany the volume of trade with the Central and Eastern European countries is greater than with the United States and Canada put together. Between 1997 and 1998 German exports to Central and Eastern Europe rose by 19% (three time more than overall growth in exports). This trend is likely to continue because most acceding countries are growth markets. As a country oriented towards foreign trade, Germany has a fundamental economic interest in rapid enlargement of the EU. Enlargement will make it possible to development wide-ranging economic ties with the neighbouring Eastern European countries. In 2000, sales from Germany to the 10 CEECs increased by 21.8% to more than 91.5 billion euro. With Poland (25.35 billion euro) and the Czech Republic (25.1 billion euro), there are already two Central and Eastern European countries among Germany's top 15 trade partners.
Booming exports to these countries safeguard many jobs in Germany.
Without the prospect of accession for Central and Eastern European countries there would be a danger that a zone of instability would be developed along the eastern border of Germany.
In fact it could be dangerous for Germany to get a ‘poor’ zone along its frontiers. He needs a stable area. In fact there are still today a lots of insecurity in CEECs countries, such as drug-traffic, prostitution or crimes as well. Germany has to ensure long term stability, security and prosperity. In fact the Impact Study, done by the Commission in 1997, shows that ‘the process of enlargement should provide an opportunity to address and find positive solutions to issues vital pan-European security’. Germany, with its weight, stability and democratic traditions, could greatly contribute to this.
Therefore it is important to help and to improve the economy of CEECs, otherwise it would create an important gap between them and Germany. The German economy would be slowed down. Consequently Germany has, since years, invested a lot the CEECs. It has invested times and money. Their contributions have been especially valuable both in the light of Germany's own experience of reconstruction after the World War II as well as the lessons learned from the integration of the East German economy following unification. Germany is providing the countries of Central and Eastern Europe with important assistance in building efficient market economies and democratic societies. The radical changes experienced by
these countries following the collapse of communism created a need not only for enormous capital inputs but also for the transfer of new know-how and skills in all areas of government and business. Through a government-funded program, German experts from academia, the business community and the public sector have been helping in the region's transformation by serving as consultants.
The German Government set up its economic transition program in 1990 immediately following the collapse of communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe. In the years since, it has provided DM 1.7 billion in consulting services to countries in the region, including DM 130 million in the 1999 fiscal year. Overall, Germany has since the end of the Cold War made available to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe as well as Russia, the largest recipient, assistance totalling DM 210 billion. Taken altogether, Germany has provided over half the funding made available by Western industrialized countries to assist the countries of the region in transforming their economies. These figures reflect the importance the German Government attaches to fostering development in Germany's neighbours to the east.
As the largest net contributor to the European Union's budget, Germany also plays a major part in the EU's efforts to help the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. As we can see, enlargement does already cost a lot for Germany, and it can be considered as a difficulty.
But Germany faces a major problem : the environment case. The environment chapter is perhaps the most difficult area to be covered in the negotiations on enlargement. In fact as the ‘opinions’, made by the Commission, reports ‘particular efforts and investment will be needed to apply the acquis communautaire fully in sector such as environment’. There is a real lack of measures for environmental policies, such as environmental law. So environment is a major challenge for enlargement. In fact G.Avery and F.Cameron say, if the gap, between levels of environmental protection in present and new Member States, is not filled, it would disturb the Single Market and could lead to a protectionist reaction.
On the other hand, there are some countries which seem not to be so positive toward the enlargement, for example France. Although French government claims that they are determined to fostering political dialogue to prepare integration, reinforcing economic cooperation, intensifying investment flows, promoting exchanges in science and technology, as well as in culture, and developing friendly convergence with the Central and Eastern Countries. The French foreign policy has been marked by Gaullist thought : the preservation of national independence. France has only some good relation with Poland
France is worried about the effects of enlargement on the generous agricultural subsidies its farmers currently receive.
Furthermore, the always important agricultural lobby has the power to bring France to a standstill by blockading the highways, and the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy needed to allow the adhesion of Central European states to the EU is not likely to be easily accepted by French farmers.
Many French, who are still traditionally ‘integrationist’ and committed to the European Union, see enlargement as a danger, because of the strain it could put on EU institutions. In fact, French government thinks that it is more important to reform the institution before any enlargement. We can say that the French president Jacques Chirac seems to be interested in the enlargement, but the rest of the government is not very for.
Some French, fearful of German power, consider that Central Europe is very much a German sphere of economic, cultural and political influence and that enlargement could as a consequence reinforce Germany and destabilise the ‘Franco-German motor’.
As we have seen, Member States have different point of view towards the enlargement. It depends which relations have the member with the candidates’ countries. But in general we can say that Member States are positive. Enlargement will bring lots of benefits to a major part of the Members States. During this essay, we have considered the point of view of the Member States, but it is the European Union which is going to be enlarged. So can we talk about an European opinion, although the Union is composed by different opinion ? Can you ask the question whether the EU is positive toward the enlargement or not ?
Gerhard Schröder, interview, 25 June 2000.
G.Avery > F.Cameron, The Enlargement of the European Union. Sheffield Academic Press 1998.
Peter Hain, speech at the Centre for European Reform, 24 July 2001.
P.Hain, speech at the British Council in Prague, 20 September 2001.
Steven P.McGiffen, The European Union. Pluto Press 2001.
The Effects on the Union’s Policies of Enlargement to the Applicant Countries of Central and Eastern Europe. 15 July 1997 –Agenda 2000 Impact Study.
Commission Opinions on Applications for Membership. 15 July 1997 –Agenda 2000.
Centre for Economic Policy Research.
Central Europe Review.