In the first decades of the European integration process, phases of deepening alternated with phases of enlarging the community/ Union. For example prior to the entry in 1973 of Ireland, the United Kingdom and Denmark, Europe embarked on a deepening process which included the creation of the European Coal and Steal Exchange, European Economic Community and Euro atom (1952).
The EEC had great success in deepening the integration process and on May 12th 1960 the Council of Ministers agreed to accelerate the process on the removal of internal barriers to trade and the erection of a common external tariff, and on the creation of a Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). (Bache, I, Politics in the European Union, 2006) However, the nature of this alternating cycle of deepening integration followed by a widening of the Union (occurring in set phases) has changed considerably since the 1990’s.
This has been particularly noticeable in the last decade, where the intervals between deepening and enlargement activities have been substantially reduced. ‘The year 2004 witnessed a culmination of that development with the Eastern Enlargement and the treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (TEC). Deepening and widening appear to go hand in hand now… ‘ (Aherns, J et al, Deepening Integration in an Enlarged EU: A Club-theoretical Perspective, European Integration Vol. 27 No. 4, 2005)
This phenomenon does not however lead to a more coherent Union, in the following report I will ask whether the EU should engage in further integration before it widens any further, and also what impact the addition of the EU 10 plus 2 (Central East-European Countries CEEC’s and Malta/ Cyprus) and further enlargement has had/ will have on changing the EU from a homogenous Union into a heterogeneous Union. The primary focus of this report shall be on the European Union post 2004 enlargement. EU-15 a pre-enlargement perspective
Before the ascension of the CEEC and the enlargement of the European Union to its current size of 27 states, the EU was a relatively homogenous entity with little disparity in GDP, unemployment and average wages. The EU was also, with the possible exception of the United Kingdom, Europhilic and Eurocentric. Since the inception of the European ‘project’ a region driven by centuries of strife and conflict has been transformed into a zone of peace and prosperity. In the process nationalism has dwindled and a sense of ‘Europeaness’ has grown.
Below is a survey taken by Euro barometer exploring feelings of attachment to individual states and the European Union. During the survey participants were asked whether they associated with the nation only, Europe and the nation or Europe only. On average throughout the EU-15 more than 50% of those surveyed associated themselves with Europe in some way. Fig 1: Selected results of 1999 Euro barometer (Euro barometer 2000) survey of feelings of identification with one’s home country or Europe.
(E= Europe only, E and N= Europe and nation, N and E= Nation and Europe, N= Nation only. ) (Murphy, A, The May 2004 Enlargement of the European Union: View from Two Years Out, Eurasian Geography and Economics Vol. 47 No. 6, 2006) It is interesting to note here that, the two countries that rejected the proposed European constitution, France and the Netherlands appeared europhilic in 1999 with 59% of France perceiving themselves to be in some way European and 55% of those surveyed in the Netherlands also perceiving themselves in this way.
Five years after the above euro barometer pole the EU added 77 million new citizens and 700,000 square kilometres of land, one year later France and the Netherlands rejected the Constitution for Europe (France 54. 68% voting No, Netherlands 61. 7% voting No). Apart from Spain and Luxembourg these were the only countries that held a referendum to ratify the Constitution and only in France and the Netherlands was there a turnout greater than fifty percent. While there were national factors involved in the rejection of the Constitution, most notably a snub by the French people on a perceived lame-duck incumbent president, it would be nai??
ve to assume that the referendum was not also a referendum on enlargement. EU post enlargement We shall now look at the EU post 2004, examining the EU constitution and the future of the EU project. First we shall look at why in 2005 the Treaty on a Constitution for Europe was rejected and later thrown out. In an EU of 15 France and the Benelux countries are at the physical and demographic heart of the EU, they are in a strong position to exert influence on all aspects of EU policy and play a pivotal role in the movement of goods, capital and people.
However, in an expanded EU the power of individual state actors is not only reduced but the centre of gravity shifts away from France and the Low Countries towards Germany. Therefore the ‘no’ votes in France and the Netherlands can be seen as a response to this. Migration also played a large part, due to the substantial numbers of migrants from North Africa and Southwest Asia in both countries; they saw the enlargement of the EU as a threat to national identity and the Constitution ‘as promoting a shift in power away from individual states. ‘ (Murphy, A.2004)
This perceived threat to national identity, that migrant workers from CEEC’s would pose, explains why post enlargement few countries allowed full free movement of workers from the new accession countries. However, perceptions on the success of enlargement are changing, generally the number of labour migrants has been modest and early signs show that they have had positive economic impact. People also see the EU as an engine for peace and stability and to enforce an obligation for West European countries to help our Eastern counterparts.