EU Enlargement: Receding Into An Uncertain Future

LONDON: Now that NATO expansion is a reality, both its new members and those who were passed over will turn their eyes to the European Union. But one often overlooked upshot of the recent, failed EU summit in Amsterdam casts doubt over the prospects for EU enlargement into Eastern Europe. It has long been obvious that EU enlargement would be a more difficult and protracted process than some Western politicians implied. But the Amsterdam deadlock underlines how difficult it is likely to be, and raises doubts about whether it will happen at all.

Some Western leaders seemed to promise that enlargement could be a fast-track operation, at least for the front-runners. Two years ago, Chancellor Kohl of Germany set the year 2000 as the target date for Poland to join the European Union; and last September President Jacques Chirac of France endorsed this target in a speech to Poland’s parliament.

Such a time-table is not just implausible: it is impossible. Membership negotiations are not due to start till 1998, and it is unlikely that any can take less than two years. Also, they cannot be concluded until the EU agrees some essential internal reforms, including reform of the common agricultural policy and the regional and other structural funds. Finally, these reforms, and the accession treaties for the new members, will have to be ratified by all existing member states and by all new member states.

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. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

    Angela Merkel’s Endgame?

    The collapse of coalition negotiations has left German Chancellor Angela Merkel facing a stark choice between forming a minority government or calling for a new election. But would a minority government necessarily be as bad as Germans have traditionally thought?

  2. Trump Trade speech Bill Pugliano/Getty Images .

    Preparing for the Trump Trade Wars

    In the first 11 months of his presidency, Donald Trump has failed to back up his words – or tweets – with action on a variety of fronts. But the rest of the world's governments, and particularly those in Asia and Europe, would be mistaken to assume that he won't follow through on his promised "America First" trade agenda.

  3. A GrabBike rider uses his mobile phone Bay Ismoyo/Getty Images

    The Platform Economy

    While developed countries in Europe, North America, and Asia are rapidly aging, emerging economies are predominantly youthful. Nigerian, Indonesian, and Vietnamese young people will shape global work trends at an increasingly rapid pace, bringing to bear their experience in dynamic informal markets on a tech-enabled gig economy.

  4. Trump Mario Tama/Getty Images

    Profiles in Discouragement

    One day, the United States will turn the page on Donald Trump. But, as Americans prepare to observe their Thanksgiving holiday, they should reflect that their country's culture and global standing will never recover fully from the wounds that his presidency is inflicting on them.

  5. Mugabe kisses Grace JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images

    How Women Shape Coups

    In Zimbabwe, as in all coups, much behind-the-scenes plotting continues to take place in the aftermath of the military's overthrow of President Robert Mugabe. But who the eventual winners and losers are may depend, among other things, on the gender of the plotters.

  6. Oil barrels Ahmad Al-Rubaye/Getty Images

    The Abnormality of Oil

    At the 2017 Abu Dhabi Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, the consensus among industry executives was that oil prices will still be around $60 per barrel in November 2018. But there is evidence to suggest that the uptick in global growth and developments in Saudi Arabia will push the price as high as $80 in the meantime.

  7. Israeli soldier Menahem Kahana/Getty Images

    The Saudi Prince’s Dangerous War Games

    Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is working hard to consolidate power and establish his country as the Middle East’s only hegemon. But his efforts – which include an attempt to trigger a war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon – increasingly look like the work of an immature gambler.