In the light of the massive 2004 European Union (EU) enlargement and the current one of Bulgaria and Romania, the question of whether the EU is reaching the limits of its enlargement shows all its relevance. In fact, since the moment the European integration process was launched, it has welcomed 21 new members in five different waves. The 2004 enlargement eastwards challenged significantly the nature of the enlargement process, by re-balancing the backbone of the European Community (EC) – the Franco-German axis – toward a stronger German position. The official recognition of Turkey as a candidate to the accession at the European Council of Helsinki in 1999 also set the nature of the enlargement at the top the EU agenda, as well as reviving the debate about the European identity. The EU enlargement process is ongoing, in time and space. Does a limit exist to the EU enlargement? How many countries will the EU be capable of “absorbing”? On which accurate criterion can an applicant to membership (or candidacy) be rejected? Should the EU be deepened before being widened?All these questions are quite debated today.
[...] Gower, Jackie EU and Russia: the Challenge of Integration without Accession,' in Gower, Jackie, and Redmond, John, eds., Enlarging the European Union: The Way Forward, 163-76. Burlington and Hants: Ashgate. Grazulius, Arunas “European Neighbourhood Policy: Enlargement Prevention or Preparation for the Next in Snyder, Francis, ed., Enlargement and the new Europe after 2004, 299-329. Bruxelles: Bruylant. Inotai, Andras European Union Facing the Eastern Enlargement: Differences to Earlier Enlargements and Challenges for the Future Europe,” in Duchenne, Geneviève and Dumoulin Michel, eds., Towards an enlarged Europe, Proceedings of the Glaverbel Chair in European Studies. [...]
[...] As the Cold War challenged the European identity, I will show how ambiguous this notion is. II. The limits of enlargement: Interpretation of this concept The area of the EU enlargement is limited both with the frontiers of Europe and the nature of the country's political regime: Art of the Rome Treaty and Art of the Amsterdam Treaty say that European state which respects the principles set out in Art may apply to become a member of the Union” (Arunas Grazulius 2005, 301). Two questions can be asked. First, are the European boundaries geographical? [...]
[...] The other successor states of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania) have adopted EU integration as a goal and are recognized as potential candidate countries. Moldova, Ukraine, and even the South Caucasus states are in the list of the applicants. This overview gives a positive prospect for these countries, even if it can take decades. However, the Turkish candidacy reveals the EU problems of identity. Opponents such as previous French President Valery Giscard D'Estaing mobilize the fact that the country is not European and that its admission would mean the of the European Union”. [...]
[...] With the Bulgarian and Romanian accession to the EU, is the EU reaching the limits of its enlargement? I can already give the hypothetical assumption that it is not. Croatia and Turkey have been given the status of candidate countries and accession negotiations already started on the 3 of October 2005. FYROM (the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia) with whom accession negotiations have not yet started, is also recognized by the EU as a candidate country. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia, including Kosovo, are potential candidate countries (http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/index_en.htm). [...]
[...] However, although the EU cannot affirm what the frontiers of Europe are, it can define its own vision of a geographical Europe, while assuming all along that it will depend on its own geopolitical considerations, or name the countries that could be in the EU and the ones that could not, even without mentioning the conditions criteria. At present, politicians seem to take advantage of both ambiguities (‘European' and ‘geographical Europe') to give their vision of what Europe should be, and decide which country could be a member and which country could not be. [...]
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