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Monday, 14 October, 2002, 13:21 GMT 14:21 UK
Will EU expansion work?
The European Union has taken a major step towards expanding into central and eastern Europe to encorporate 10 new members, including Hungary and Poland, by 2004.

However there will be strict monitoring of the new entrants and the EU's most problematic candidate, Turkey, will be told it has to improve its human rights record before formal membership talks can begin.

And the plans could be thrown into disarray if the Irish later this month again vote to reject the EU's Treaty of Nice, which was signed in 2000 to prepare the EU for enlargement.

The draft enlargement report is subject to approval by all 20 members of the European Commission.

EU governments will take the final decisions on expanding the Union at a summit in Brussels later this month, and then at a further summit in Copenhagen in December.

Will expansion work? What contribution will the new member countries make to the EU? Tell us what you think.

This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The idea of unification of all European countries is a wonderful and idealistic one

Kyere Loren, New Zealand
Being originally from Europe myself, I can still vividly remember the emotionally charged unification of the two Germanys. It was a wonderful, moving and much overdue moment, yet it has also brought about economic hardship and attitude clashes of such magnitude, that leave Germany in turmoil to this day. The idea of unification of all European countries is a wonderful and idealistic one. However, the gap between the rich and the poor is so great that the poor will be unable to climb to the middle ground and the rich will be unwilling to follow suit from the opposite end of the scale. If any success should come of it, the process can only be a gradual one.
Kyere Loren, New Zealand

I am an American. I believe this expansion may be painful at first but it will benefit Europe in the long run. A unified "United States of Europe" can utilise its human, natural, and capital resources more efficiently, and will have a powerful voice in the world political scene.
Brian Baron, USA

This is being driven by business which wants mass cheap labour. As a worker I do not want cheap competition.
Smithy, London, UK

I believe that adding so many countries in so short a time is a BIG mistake.
Ted, Spain

Cooperation and respect for human rights outweigh any negative aspects that may result from EU expansion

Costas Louis, Greece
European unity and peace can be safeguarded and maintained through expansion. Economic benefits may be important. However, cooperation, peaceful coexistence and respect for human rights, outweigh any negative aspects that may result from EU expansion. I am confident that the new members will become an asset to the EU. I hope to see Bulgaria, Romania, Russia and Turkey join so that we may shake off the past and look into a better future.
Costas Louis, Greece

Now the citizens of current EU countries have to give serious to consideration to whether or not they want to spend the rest of their lives funding a crazy scheme to integrate the rich, poor and even poorer nations of Europe. I know I don't. Given individual nations' failure to do this domestically it doesn't seem to be feasible on a continental scale. I'm hoping enlargement will mark the beginning of the end for the EU in its current corrupt, power grabbing form.
Ben, Liverpool, England

Full membership is going to be a hopeless disaster. There are more farmers in Poland than there are in all the current members of the EU put together. There will have to be a massive redistribution of wealth of Polish farmers and there will be riots on the streets of France, Spain and Italy when these countries find out what's at stake. Watch out for some compromise whereby these new countries are full voting members of the EU but are outside the scope of CAP!
Ian Johnson, UK

I do believe many people are trying to create a United States of Europe. It is in the interest of the joining members and current members to be able to speak with one voice. That would certainly benefit Europe and the world.
Andrew, USA

It will turn the EU into a complete joke

Ipek, Turkey
You can build bridges but the empty space remains. This wave of enlargement will turn the EU into a complete joke.
Ipek, Turkey

If Cyprus is joining, will this mean an end to the division on the island, or will we have a north outside of the EU and a south inside?
Bob Price, UK

How wonderful to see all these different countries united! This will show the world that it is possible to maintain peace, equal rights and prosperity when everybody gets around the same table and compromise the interests of each other with the interests of everybody...
Fabrice, France

I strongly believe the expansion of the European Union is a major step in the history of Europe. Thanks to the Founding Fathers of Europe our continent is in peace for nearly fifty years, and our economy is creating welfare for most of the citizens.
Erwin Boogaerts, Antwerp, Belgium

Western Europe owes them a debt of honour and gratitude

Marek, UK/Poland
I welcome enlargement, as it goes some way to righting the wrongs imposed after the end of the 2nd World War. Western Europe was allowed to rebuild with US money, safe in the knowledge that Soviet aspirations had been satisfied by the betrayal of Poland (and other countries in Central Europe). It is about time these countries re-took their rightful place at the heart of Europe. Western Europe owes them a debt of honour and gratitude, and it is about time this was acknowledged.
Marek, UK/ Poland

I have just moved to Poland having spent six years in CIS. On balance enlargement seems to welcome here, but if the CAP is not subject to radical reform there could be major problems ahead. It is high time the vested interests that uphold the CAP are exposed and challenged.
Christian Gaunt, Poland

There is nothing to stop new applicants joining under Treaty of Amsterdam conditions. Federalists want to use expansion as a pretext for reducing national vetoes on sensitive matters. Their refusal to respect the Republic of Ireland's 'No' to the Treaty of Nice says it all.
Brian Mooney, UK

The expansion of the EU is for the benefit of business. Multinationals currently taking advantage of the UK's poor employment legislation will simply shut up shop and move to the East, where wages and conditions are even worse. The introduction of the euro makes this all the more likely, as the risk of currency fluctuations has been removed. This process has actually already started - an example being last year's decision by Compaq to move production from Erskine to the Czech Republic.
Andy Harkins, Scotland

The organisation is as corrupt as any of the Eastern European states attempting to enter

JCL, London, UK
We must be barmy to increase the EU when Brussels cannot administer those already under the yoke!! The recent scandals about accountancy and the blustering remarks by Kinnock have shown that the organisation is as corrupt as any of the Eastern European states attempting to enter.
JCL, London, UK

It is the height of ignorance to suggest all the new EU members are "poor" nations who will make no contributions. One of the applicant countries, Slovenia has an almost higher GDP per capita than EU members Greece and Portugal and could in fact find itself being a net contributor under the present arrangements. Should the EU therefore admit "wealthy" nations like Slovenia and expel "poor" ones like Greece and Portugal?
Peter James, Australia

As an IT worker I see work increasingly being taken outside the EU mainly to Poland and other Eastern European countries. With the arrival of these 10 new nations it will only serve to accelerate the process of the death of IT in Ireland and the UK
Robert Smeatham, Ireland

Expansion would help heal the mistakes of the Cold War period

Giuliano Casadei, England
Obviously there are going to be difficulties with bringing these weaker economies into the EU, but economics are not the only consideration. The development of the EU has prevented war in Europe for over half a century. Expansion would help heal the mistakes of the Cold War period.
Giuliano Casadei, England

I wholeheartedly welcome EU expansion. The two huge advantages of the EU are peace and redistribution. Spain, Portugal, Greece and Ireland are currently richer than they were 10 years ago. The applicant countries will become richer and this will benefit all of the EU.
Jon Larkin, UK

Fortunately I can afford to get out the UK and away from this crazy and corrupt EU. Enlargement will only allow a larger group of politicians to line their pockets with our money.
Keith, UK

The people of Europe should decide

Jon, UK
Surely this is just going to create a tide of economic migration from poorer East European counties to the west. Who is going to pick up the tab for their benefits? The British tax payer I suppose! I am totally against it! The people of Europe should decide, not the politicians!
Jon, UK

The democratic structures that underpin the EU need to be overhauled and reformed before any large scale expansion should be considered. The EU also needs a clear vision as to what it is trying to achieve. Is it a single European state, is it a free trade area or is it something else entirely? This lack of focus has been evident for years and until the EU and the rest of Europe clearly know we will all continue to stumble along, tripping over the next obstacle in our path while we bicker over where we are going...
Chris Elmes, UK

Many people in the UK often complain about asylum seekers and so forth. With the EU expansion, it is highly likely we will see a mass migration from East to West. If people are already angry about asylum seekers, then they ain't seen nothing yet!
Guy Wilmot, UK

Please refrain from making judgements before knowing the facts. The latest calculations made by EU and Slovenian officials show that Slovenia will pay more into EU funds than will receive from them - right from the start!
Patricia Kotnik, Slovenia

The Irish should be ashamed of themselves. They were a poor backward economy and are one of the countries to have benefited most from the EU. Their objections to enlargement are purely selfish. Enlargement will hopefully improve the economies and prospects of the new member states.
Kevin, Scotland

Already we are moving businesses to these new countries

Paul Markham, Czech Rep.
I'm English but moved to the Czech Rebublic 4 years ago, because the labour was cheaper. A good wage for an average worker here is 300 euros a month. Let's face it the potential of us selling much to them is limited, but what it will do is open up an enormous new labour force that's paid 25% or less of those in the West, have far less restrictive labour practices and weaker unions. Plus renting premises here is far cheaper. Already we are moving businesses to these new countries, by getting them to join the EU it will just be easier and cheaper.
Paul Markham, Czech Rep.

While I support EU expansion in principle, in practice this is likely to impose significant costs on the existing members to cover the environmental and social liabilities of Eastern Europe without any significant gains. If, however, the expansion is taken as an opportunity to reform the EU by scrapping the CAP and making EU institutions democratically accountable this may be worthwhile.
Tom, England

I believe a loose federation 'from the Atlantic to the Urals' would be a stronger more vital organisation to serve the interests of all of Europe. Expanding the current structure will lead to the whole thing collapsing, to all our detriment.
Niall Clarke, Manchester, UK

As a Pole, I live on the crossroads of Europe. Again and again we have been crossed by huge armies heading east or west. Harmonisation and wealth-sharing, improved communication, integration and understanding. All these things reduce the risk of conflict. We have peace in our time, we must secure it.
Ania Jagiello, Ostroleka, Poland

I definitely welcome new countries to the EU

Phil B, London, UK
Having visited all the applying countries bar Turkey recently, it is evident to me that they have all changed with varying degrees of success since the fall of the Berlin wall. I would say however that perhaps with the exception of Warsaw in Poland, none of countries gave the impression being modern financial and business centres on a scale the western world is accustomed. I definitely welcome new countries to the EU, but not until these countries can offer as much economically back to the member states, as the member states offer to the applicant. After all the EU is not a charity.
Phil B, London, UK

EU expansion will only work if the EU slashes subsidies, reduces labour market regulation and allows totally unfettered movement into and out of the new entrant countries.
Robert, Switzerland

I would prefer to see the EU first sort out the undemocratic nature of the European Council in which Germany, with 20 million more people than France or the UK, has equal voting rights to these countries. There are other issues such as farming subsidies which protect the interests of a few whilst disregarding the interests of Europe. The EU has a better chance to sort out these issues with the current, fewer members. However, without a clear focus on objectives which benefit all Europeans, expansion will result in the EU becoming as ineffectual as the UN.
Ulrich Buescher, Australia

I have high hopes for enlargement. It hastens the day when the whole corrupt edifice comes crumbling down about the commission's despotic ears.
John Adlington, UK

An organisation like the EU can only work if all members are peers, and all benefit from a common pool of resources. Expanding the EU would involve bringing in much weaker economies, who will benefit from EU subsidies without shouldering their fair share of the burden. Not only that, but when even strong economies like German are struggling to maintain the euro stability pact, how will former communist countries cope? Therefore, it is too soon to consider expanding.
Guy Hammond, England

Your guide to the European Union: Features, backgrounders and reference guides
Making sense of the EU

Will EU expansion work?



13163 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

09 Oct 02 | Europe
08 Oct 02 | Europe
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