October 5, 2012
The European Union enlargement process of 2004 and 2007 was considered by many as a big achievement of the Union. And that because behind the idea of enlargement was lying the argument that the more the countries inside the EU, the more global the achievement would be and the greater the role of Europe as geopolitical player would be. In addition to that, there was also the vision that the enlargemet process would further build a deeper and wider political union. None of these was finally achieved.
It is not only that the EU has lately lost its credibility due to the deep financial and political crisis, but it is equally the fact that the new member-states have two major structural deficiencies that are still pending: the first is that all of them with the exception of Cyprus have low-income per capita rates, weak economies, and especially for the Baltic States a political leadership that is stepping between post-communism and a mixture of neoliberal policies. Therefore, the process cannot be regarded as an achievement as both economic and political conditions did not offer new perspectives in the wider European policy, domestic and foreign one.
As far as economics are concerned, the crisis in Eurozone can only sweep economies outside of Eurozone rather than leaving them space to contribruting to the facing of the crisis. In this respect, countries like Czech Republic and Slovakia have entered the monetary union hoping that their markets would revitalize and grow following the rythms and the pace of the biggest ones like Germany, France, and Italy. Nonetheless, the deep recession has pulled down the countries of the South and consequently those new ones that were expecting to benefit from the development process four or five years ago.
As far as politics are concerned, the leaderships of the new member-states have nothing to propose neither in the field of European policy nor in the field of suggested actions to address the critical issue of the political union and the confrontation of the economic crisis. Surely nobody can put the blame on these states and their leaderships, but yet someone would expect a proposition to launch a debate over the further steps of the Union and Eurozone. The least expected would be to see statements from political leaders, like the ones from the Prime Minister of Slovakia arguing about whether or not his country should benefit from exiting Eurozone or whether Greece poses a problem for the entire establishment of the monetary union.
After all, we can hardly discern how all new member-states have contributed to the process of combatting eurocrisis and bringing some fresh ideas over building a stronger political union inside the EU. Most of them have just been “attending” all developments rather than acting for the sake of the entire European establishment.Dimitris Rapidis