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The economic results of the 2004 enlargement of the European Union

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  1. The challenging fifth enlargement has undeniably boosted new comer's economies.
    1. The fifth enlargement was a challenge.
    2. Two years later, an economic success?.
  2. Has Western Europe paid the bill for eastern and central European economic growth?.
    1. Western fears were not justified.
    2. A small impact on the EU?s economy and budget.

Two years ago, ten new members joined the European Union out of whom eight were former communist countries. Malta and Cyprus joined the EU in 2004. The fifth enlargement has been the most ambitious in the history of the European Union. It was the largest ever in terms of number of countries (10) and population (75 million) acceding to the European Union. It posed great challenges in terms of disparity of wealth. Achieving the political and economic reunification of Europe 15 years after the fall of the Berlin wall, it was the most symbolic union ever since the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community which had achieved the French-German reconciliation. Nevertheless, the Eurobarometers surveys showed that this strongly symbolic enlargement invited a true enthusiasm neither in old members nor in new comers. Instead, the debate between pros and cons of the process has been mainly argued at the economic level. Western Europeans mainly feared that the enlargement would cause industry outsourcing and immigration of Eastern workers and thus raise the unemployment levels in Western Europe. Many thought that the enlargement would come at a huge cost for the EU budget or would reduce the EU subsidiaries, including the Common Agricultural Policy that they benefited from.

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