Johanna Schley

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History of Europe

EU member states and further enlargement without end?

by Johanna Schley, 2010

Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands.. The list of the currently 27 member states of the European Union is long. Since the “Treaty of Paris” in 18 April 1951 those mentioned states are known as the  “foundation states” of the European Union. When Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in 2007 they became the most recent members of the EU. Still, lots of other countries of Europe aren’t part of the EU yet. Croatia, Turkey and Macedonia, who would like to join the EU, haven’t been allowed to do so yet. The so known “Copenhagen criteria” of 1993 aren’t fulfilled yet.
Do we actually want all the European countries to become part of the European Union? Is “further enlargement without end” a good idea?

Considering the  responsibility of the European union, every single country needs to be aware of the collective responsibility. The most recent example might be Greece: Helping Greece means much struggle for the member states. Though, this is how it works: If one country is in trouble, all the other countries are in trouble as well. The more countries there are, the more likely becomes the risk of arising dangers.
As rich states need to help poor countries they fear for their own wealth. A high amount of different countries bring along a high amount of different opinions. As a result, coming to a compromise becomes difficult. If there are too many countries recovering, stability is endangered.
Considering this, the crucial point is: How should one decide which of the countries are “more valuable” and “more important” for the EU than the others?

Also, becoming part of the European Union shouldn’t become the main purpose of the European countries. Improving the living conditions of each state should have priority. Turkey, for instance, is a good example: Still, woman’s equality hasn’t been enforced yet. The same is true of issues like violence in Turkey.

Certainly, a common pursuit of a peaceful Europe is important. A decided advantage of admitting the other states is the existence of a unity that is able to persist against war and crisis. Gaining mutual prosperity is certainly one of the main aspects that makes participation become attractive for each country. The countries are able to work side by side. Poor countries are supported by the rich ones. In an appropriate manner, the infrastructure can be improved. Countries are able to export goods without paying duty. The economy increases, unemployment is worked against. A common Europe may be formed.

In conclusion, I consider the topic as being too complex to give a decisive answer. Though, I  think as soon as a country fulfils all criteria, it should be able to become part of the European Union.

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