In the next five years, the European Union can expect the number of its member states to nearly double by the admittance of 13 additional countries, most of which are in eastern Europe. The new member states will enlarge the zone of safety and stability in Europe and contribute to the further development of the continent's political and economic order, according to a new report by the Scientific Council for Government Policy in the Hague.
"There are widespread fears that the eastward enlargement will result in 'erosion' of basic achievements such as internal markets and--as a result of the large number of highly diverse countries--could reduce the ability to take decisions," says the Council. "In order to preserve such assets and effectiveness, the Union has set the bar high for the accession of the candidates."
The 13 candidate countries are Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Turkey.
Accession to the EU means fully implementing the Union's achievements, which, besides internal markets, include monetary union, agricultural and environmental policies, and cooperation in justice issues and home affairs. This task is made more difficult by the fact that candidate countries need to undergo an extremely radical process of adjustment in a short space of time.
Partly in response to requirements laid down by the EU, most candidate countries have made great strides in transforming civil society, democracy, law, governance, and economics. There remain, however, significant achievements to accomplish. …