With regard to the Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC), what are the effects of the enlargement of the European Union?

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With regard to the Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC), what are the effects of the enlargement of the European Union?

In today’s world, there is somewhat of a challenge concerning the ‘enlargement of the European Union’. However, in November 2003, breaking news was welcomed concerning the future ‘enlargement’. In Brussels, the European Union’s executive Commission cleared the final obstacle to 10 new countries entering the bloc next year, saying all would be ready to join on schedule on May 1, 2004.

However, in order to fully comprehend the situation, it is important to look at the past growth of the European Union, the present situation and what the consequences of this enlargement would result in.

First and foremost what are the ten CEE countries, or as referred to classically in French, the PECO (Pays d'Europe Centrale et Orientale). Thirteen countries have applied to European Union membership: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Turkey. Unfortunately Romania, Poland and Turkey did not meet the criteria necessary for membership. Enlargement is the means by which national states concede to the transfer of sovereignty to supranational institutions and agree to invest in common policies within a customs union. In the current European case, this fundamentally is the development of the fifteen-member state grouping to integrate the 10 joining in 2004. This will enable the EU to span more than two-thirds of the continent in its entirety. It will certainly have serious implications for the economic, political, social and military nature of the Union. The EU warned though that all states still had shortcomings that had to be resolved if they wished to share the full benefits of membership. The Commission said that the eight former East Bloc nations, along with Cyprus and Malta, had to enact reforms ranging from food safety to garbage collection faster.

Of course the Union has undertaken enlargements previously, however none have been as large a step for Europe as the one scheduled. It is an innovative change in many ways, considering that the previous enlargements did not involve states as geographically, politically and economically diverse from the current members. Also each of the enlargements to date encompassed three or four countries at the most (Norway took part in the most recent enlargement, but rejected membership in a national referendum), so this enlargement is quantitatively groundbreaking also.

The origins of enlargement go back to the beginning of the Union, when Jean Monnet pioneered the idea of European integration in the early 1950's. The first ever enlargement of the EU took place in 1973 when Ireland, Denmark and the United Kingdom joined the original six EEC states. Greece was then awarded membership in 1981, followed by Portugal and Spain in 1986 and finally Austria, Finland and Sweden in 1995. The most recent enlargement brought the total and present membership to fifteen states. None of these enlargements were without problems or controversy. For example, the UK only succeeded in joining in 1973 after having been rejected in its previous bids for membership by French President Charles de Gaulle, while the Spanish and Portuguese accessions spawned conflicts over agriculture and the budget.

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The move towards the impending enlargement began to gather pace following the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, along with the break-up of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. The newly autonomous states wasted no time in portraying to the EU their aspirations to join Europe's elite in the union. When one considers how rapidly these major events transpired, it becomes clear that the EU handled the developments with remarkable speed and efficiency.

Enlargement means a great deal to the applicant countries, they envisage it to be part of their triumphant return to ...

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