The EU will soon have power over 400m people
At the Copenhagen Summit in early December, the 15 states which currently constitute the European Union are expected to give the green light for a further 10 countries - mostly from Eastern Europe - to join the club.
It is supposed to be one of the greatest moments in European history for half a century.
But as politicians do their best to talk up Europe's rendezvous with history, a recent poll showed that only half of all European voters back plans to admit the 10 newcomers, with support for the project among the lowest in Britain.
Germany, traditionally the powerhouse and paymaster of the EU, is mired in its own post-unification problems, both economic and social. And it lacks the energy as well as the cash to drive the enlargement process forward.
France, in turn, is worried that it will lose influence as the centre of Europe gradually moves eastwards.
Greece, however is upbeat. The Foreign Minister, George Papandreou says: "We have always suffered from the division of Europe, coming out of crises, conflicts, and animosity.
"Therefore enlargement is very much for us part of a wider peace project."
In Brussels a group of 105 European politicians, under the chairmanship of the former French president Giscard d'Estaing, is busily putting the finishing touches on what will effectively be a constitution for the expanded European Union.
Despite being a member of this Convention on the Future of Europe, the British Tory MP David Heathcoat Amory is alarmed:
"A constitution will be a big step further towards giving the EU all the attributes of statehood...
"It is a highly undesirable institution from a British point of view."
Will the European Union as we know it survive enlargement? 'The European Juggernaut' explores this question with contributors from home and abroad.
Presenter: Bruce Clark
Producer: Ingrid Hassler
Editor: Nicola Meyrick
BBC Radio 4's Analysis: 'The European juggernaut' was broadcast on Thursday, 5 December 2002 at 2030 GMT.