EU Enlargement: Options and Mistakes

CAMBRIDGE: Across Latin America, pressures to engage with the US to increase regional integration are mounting. Mexico’s incoming president Vincente Fox has made free labor market integration an important item on his agenda. Argentina hopes to achieve a free trade agreement as a way of moving closer to the US, at least in the eyes of investors, and thus shed the risk premiums on capital that have been imposed recently. In Asia, in the wake of the financial crisis of 1997, Japan is aggressively promoting regional economic integration. Swap credit lines have been negotiated between regional central banks; a free trade pact has been offered by other Asian economies to a reluctant Japan. Monetary integration is being urged on the South Koreans, who are terrified by this attempted Japanese embrace.

It is in Europe, however, that the boldest attempt at regional integration is in prospect, as the European Union opens itself to the East. After the Southern wave (Portugal, Spain and Greece) of two decades ago, this new wave involves, in various stages, 10 postcommunist economies. Most prominent in terms of economic size and proximity are Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. But the list goes deep into the Balkans, with Romania and, who knows, even Turkey as potential EU members.

Europe does not relish this opening eastward; after all, exports to the east have been wonderful since 1989. Manufacturing production, too, is somewhat successful. Integration, however, is another matter, particularly if it includes free labor mobility, participation in Europe’s rich social safety net, and access to European subsidies. The East, of course, can’t join fast enough; the West, never mind the supposed inevitability, wishes it could find a way to black ball them all. But expansion is Europe’s destiny, never mind high unemployment (i.e. people paid not to work), never mind European agricultural protection and regional subsidies. The East is knocking, and everyone knows that if no answer comes, they will jump the fence.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.


Log in;
  1. Patrick Kovarik/Getty Images

    The Summit of Climate Hopes

    Presidents, prime ministers, and policymakers gather in Paris today for the One Planet Summit. But with no senior US representative attending, is the 2015 Paris climate agreement still viable?

  2. Trump greets his supporters The Washington Post/Getty Images

    Populist Plutocracy and the Future of America

    • In the first year of his presidency, Donald Trump has consistently sold out the blue-collar, socially conservative whites who brought him to power, while pursuing policies to enrich his fellow plutocrats. 

    • Sooner or later, Trump's core supporters will wake up to this fact, so it is worth asking how far he might go to keep them on his side.
  3. Agents are bidding on at the auction of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi' Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

    The Man Who Didn’t Save the World

    A Saudi prince has been revealed to be the buyer of Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi," for which he spent $450.3 million. Had he given the money to the poor, as the subject of the painting instructed another rich man, he could have restored eyesight to nine million people, or enabled 13 million families to grow 50% more food.

  4.  An inside view of the 'AknRobotics' Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    Two Myths About Automation

    While many people believe that technological progress and job destruction are accelerating dramatically, there is no evidence of either trend. In reality, total factor productivity, the best summary measure of the pace of technical change, has been stagnating since 2005 in the US and across the advanced-country world.

  5. A student shows a combo pictures of three dictators, Austrian born Hitler, Castro and Stalin with Viktor Orban Attila Kisbenedek/Getty Images

    The Hungarian Government’s Failed Campaign of Lies

    The Hungarian government has released the results of its "national consultation" on what it calls the "Soros Plan" to flood the country with Muslim migrants and refugees. But no such plan exists, only a taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign to help a corrupt administration deflect attention from its failure to fulfill Hungarians’ aspirations.

  6. Project Syndicate

    DEBATE: Should the Eurozone Impose Fiscal Union?

    French President Emmanuel Macron wants European leaders to appoint a eurozone finance minister as a way to ensure the single currency's long-term viability. But would it work, and, more fundamentally, is it necessary?

  7. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now