The Boundaries of EU Enlargement: Finding a Place for Neighbours

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Sign in Subscribe. Subscribe Login Sign up. Foreign Policy. Login Sign up. Centre for European Reform, , 78 pp. More: Europe. The consequences of EU membership can be divided into general benefits, economic, political and social ones. At the moment of accession, trade development became the most relevant and unprecedented success story of the enlargement. EU membership also provided CEECs with the advantage of belonging to a community of democracy, stability, prosperity, and a growing internal market with over million people.

The Balladur Pact signed in , also made the EU dependant on good neighbourly relations which together with CEECs inclusion has helped diffuse threats posed by the collapse of communism and border disputes. Eastern enlargement has allowed people from CEECs to travel freely across national boundaries making it easier for them to relocate to other member states. According to the European Commission, more than fifteen million citizens have moved to other EU countries to work or to enjoy their retirement, benefiting from the transferability of social benefits and the enlargement of the Schengen Area.

CEECs that had massive emigration rates after their official EU accession started to register yearly increases in remittances that not only became an important source of additional income and domestic demand-creating factor but also the main driver of construction industries and an important tool in covering huge and ever-wider trade deficits. EU membership also impacted positively on NMS unemployment figures due to the high growth and job-creating effects of sustainable modernisation CEECs underwent after the end of communism.

In Hungary for example, after EU accession, employment levels went up from The EU is one of the strongest and largest economic and free trade areas in the world.

Finding a Place for Neighbours

FDI and imports originating from the EU accelerated economic reforms in these countries and therefore sped up their integration to the EU and the promised welfare, better standards of living and the economic security that this organisation would provide them with. Economic integration induced by enlargement also had positive effects on high-tech sectors in CEECs [51] as FDI was mainly channelled into industry, infrastructure, energy and telecommunications.

Free movement of labour and capital have also helped create a more flexible economy in CEECs.


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The economic rationale behind free movement of workers is a better allocation of human resources within the common market, and this has led to increased production in destination countries and less unemployment in CEECs. With the inclusion of CEECs, the EU Single Market now accounts for almost million people which means Central Eastern European middle-sized companies now have access to new export markets which previously were not an option due to the cost and hassle involved with border bureaucracy.

The enlargement to the East has also brought about increased levels of competition and innovation [52] which have led to higher productivity, lower costs and prices, higher quality, and a greater choice for consumers in CEECs that was practically unattainable under communism. Consumers in CEECs are also better protected as the Single Market guarantees that products meet certain minimum standards. In Poland, between May and August , the first medium- and long-term accession effects became evident: economic growth of 6. CEECs used their membership to increase their trade above average and some also exploited their geographical location to increase their trade with neighbouring states, while others started to focus on rapidly growing global markets.

Poland in the European Union - Wikipedia

EU accession provided CEECs with substantial and consistent incentives for political reform and moderation of their political practices and institutions. Europeanization has been part of the narrative of post-communist transformation in CEECs. From to most CEECs underwent serious political transformation and democratic development seems overall to have progressed well. To this day, the new post-communist member states remain committed to a parliament system of governance as opposed to the presidential system favoured by most of their counterparts in former Soviet bloc.

The NMS have continued to rotate between centre-left and centre-right parties. Radical alternative have been largely eschewed. The and accessions not only reunified Europe, but were also unprecedented in the fact that ten ex-Soviet countries were offered membership.

This would test the institutional framework of the Union. The adaptation process NMS underwent before becoming full members helped them quickly overcome the legacy of communism. CEECs did not have any alternative: should they wish to return to Europe, they would have to comply with EU regulations and acquis , plus the EU incarnated what CEECs wanted to achieve: a democratic system and a market economy. The enlargement process also made politics an area which it is difficult to tamper with. CEECs that long hailed as models of successful democratic transition, have recently descended into political crisis, electoral paralysis and nationalist straying.

It has been argued that in the post-communist world there is a positive correlation between distance from the West and regime type. In Romania, it contributed to the election of the Romanian Democratic Convention that removed the communists from power and eliminated the threat of a possible return to a totalitarian regime.

Poland in the European Union

In Hungary in led to the establishment of a coalition government. NMS also joined the system for early exchange of information in the event of radiological emergencies as well as environmental policies to reduce the effects of climate change. NMS transition to a market economy has also been faster and more durable than in other post-communist regions. CEECs that are part of the EU have the most advantageous economic reforms, low inequalities and extensive welfare policies, as well as having experienced consistent economic growth compared to non-EU members in former communist countries.

EU enlargement has led to better living standards in NMS. It has also brought about democracy, stability and security in CEECs. Today, Europe is not only bigger but also stronger, more dynamic and culturally richer. The enlargement has been one of the most successful foreign policy initiatives the EU has undertaken to export its values to CEECs. EU membership has also brought about major opportunities for CEECs as it has made them more attractive for outsourcing and off-shoring.

Despite the legacy of centrally-planned economies, the CEECs that joined the EU in and rank relatively highly in terms of economic freedom as their trade with OMS is thriving. FDI in the region has helped create thousands of jobs, and it has generated multibillion profits for companies.

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The extension of the Single Market has also led to increased productivity and competitiveness in CEECs which has translated into positive effects for CEECs consumers in terms of prices, variety, quality of supply in goods and services that were unattainable before. EU membership and accession prospects also brought about important political benefits in CEECs as accession required compliance with an extensive set of conditions included in the Copenhagen Criteria and the acquis of the community. Both placed pressures on CEECs to pursue democratisation processes.

Recent developments in the political arena in CEECs have posed a question about how effective and lasting political advances in this region will be. There has been a resurgence of nationalism, populism, Euroscepticism, and extremism in their political agendas. Widespread corruption is still a cause of great dissatisfaction with the current political elites. For the EU, the enlargement meant an opportunity to promote political stability and economic prosperity on the other side of Europe. The enlargement has been one of the most powerful policy tools that has helped transform CEECs into functioning democracies and more affluent countries.

Routledge, , p. Acta Slavica laponica.

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