EU Policy process

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University of Bristol: School for Policy Studies

Master’s Programme in Public Policy 2008-2009

European Policy Process

Assessed Essay Question:

To what extent EU Enlargement is compatible with the deepening of the European Union?

Word Count: 3643

  1. Introduction

Undoubtedly, the EU enlargement process is not an easy one and it causes a lot of debate around. It is questioned whether processes of deepening and widening of the Union can be compatible. What will be the impact on the core institutions of the EU? What will be the role of the Commission and European Parliament? Will the enlargement bring deeper integration and strengthen European identity? Will it be beneficial for all members including new member states, and how it will be influential in the new neighbouring states?

There is an argument that widening can be an obstacle to moving towards deepening because of the heterogeneity of the interests of member states of diverse Union. However the history of the EU, which can be considered as the history of permanent enlargement and closer integration processes, may be an evidence of widening and deepening going together.

Blockmans and Prechal (2007) define the notion of deepening which is used to describe integration process within the EU. Firstly, deepening is defined as an intensity of the EU actions in different policy areas. Secondly, it is the process that requires institutional reforms to manage the further integration process to make work such a complex Union with 27 or more member states properly, the decision-making mechanisms should be adjusted and strengthened.

The enlargement itself can be considered from different areas such as finance, institutional development and external/ internal policy implications. It is worth mentioning that all these processes are interconnected and cyclical as the financial, institutional or policy changes influence to the process of enlargement and vice versa.

From a financial perspective enlargement is very important. On the one hand, integration offers advantages in terms of a larger market and global economy, but on the other hand, these advantages must be balanced against the costs of challenges and adjustment (EC Report, 2009c).

Institutional development perspective is a crucial point of the enlargement process not least because before accepting new members, significant institutional reforms must be accepted.

The process of interaction and integration with direct neighbours depend the future success or failure of the EU. Hence, Ronald Dannreuther suggests:

The impact of EU enlargement is also not limited to the accession of new members but involves the definition of new borders and creation of new neighbours... (Dannreuther, 2004: 2)

        Fraser Cameron claims (2004) that deepening and widening were twin processes of the EU since its foundation. He makes a good point saying:

The first enlargement led to the EU adopting a regional policy and was preceded by a common fisheries policy. The second and the third enlargements led to the single market, a stronger social policy, an increased commitment to solidarity with the poorer regions and greater powers for the EP. The fourth enlargement followed moves towards economic and monetary union and new policy areas in foreign policy and justice and home affairs. (Cameron, 2004: 1-2)

In sum, deepening may be defined as a common achievement in strengthening of European identity, maintaining governance by developing the institutional reforms, and the last but not least strengthening legitimacy. Again these processes are interconnected, because strengthening identity helps to gain legitimacy and authority. By gaining these two it is possible to proceed onto implementation of new reforms for further enhancement of closer integration.

        Therefore this essay will discuss further the benefits of enlargement, and that it is indeed compatible with the deepening process.

 However, the enlargement process poses a lot of challenges. Subsequently, to what extent the EU can be enlarged (i.e. the limits of the scope of the EU integration) without any loss and with further moves to strengthening and financial perspectives is still an open question.

        Section I will identify the extent of the impact of enlargement on institutions through discussing the reform agenda. It will also expand on the integration process, which has developed over the years.  

        Section II will consider the benefits to be brought by enlargement and future perspectives clarifying possible limits of enlargement.

Section III will focus on compatibility of widening with deepening, through discussing the perceived need for widening being conditional upon deepening. It will also discuss the theories of interaction of deepening and widening processes.

I Impact of Enlargement, Integration Capacity and Institutional Changes to deal with the Enlargement

It is believed that the first enlargement (1973) was accompanied by notable deepening.  During this enlargement regional policy was created; power of the EP was increased and as a result the first direct elections were established. The second enlargement (1981) and third enlargements (1986) included two important institutional changes that are: use of Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) and much greater involvement of the Parliament in legislative and other decision-making processes that in turn assumed to strengthen the EC’s democratic legitimacy. Also, the Treaty on European Union was signed in 1992, February which included provisions for Economic and Monetary Union, establishment of a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) along with cooperation on justice and home affairs (JHA) (Cameron, 2004). The fourth enlargement (1995), particularly the accession of Sweden and Finland, strengthened traditions of democracy and participation which was very important for public opinion about accountability and legitimacy of the EU (Miles, 1996). During the fifth enlargement EU faced challenges by accepting poorest Central and Eastern European EU member states, EU faced institutional, operational and procedural changes. The Commission also needed to open delegations in the regions and reorganize them in Brussels. As for the EP it also faced reorganization with an enhanced involvement in international affairs.

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In the light of the enlargements EU benefited as a whole union. The enlargement process contributed to improvements of the situation in old member states as well as new members. At the same time, as EU has enlarged from six members to 27 members, and in each round of enlargement, it has been accompanied by further moves to closer integration.

EU Institutions and Reforms

More and more Institutional reforms with regards to enlargement become a salient issue on the political agenda of the EU, particularly in recent years. The question to ask therefore is how far the ...

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