The Expanding European Union

Manila Bulletin, April 27, 2004 | Go to article overview

The Expanding European Union


WHEN the European Union takes in ten new members on May 4th, the 25 member states will comprise a single market of 450 million people, the worlds largest market for farm products from developing countries.

From an Asian, and Philippine point of view, that is the most relevant point about EU expansion. Because, as EU Ambassador to the Philippines Jan de Kok told the Foreign Correspondents Association in an April 5th meeting, new members will all have to abide by the bilateral agreement already in place between the EU and other countries, which include the Philippines. From the date of accession, a single set of trade rules, a single tariff, and a single set of procedures will apply to all members, which should simplify trade relations with any of the member countries.

The new members are Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia.

Expansion will present significant economic opportunities in terms of both a larger market and also investment. EU will provide the source of 46 percent of the world Foreign Direct Investment. There are no internal borders among the member states and the adoption of common regulations and standards offers a freer circulation of goods and services. The free movement of capital will be applicable to all companies doing business in members states, regardless of ownership.

Founded in 1951 as a 6member community dedicated to keeping peace among former continental combatants (notably France and Germany), the EU today, just as NATO today, is a totally different organization, and further proof that the East-West divide in Europe is a thing of the distant past.

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