Academic journal article Insight Turkey

Two Europes Vis-a-Vis Enlargement: A Comparative Study of Two Competing Approaches regarding the EU Enlargement Project in the Case of Turkey

Academic journal article Insight Turkey

Two Europes Vis-a-Vis Enlargement: A Comparative Study of Two Competing Approaches regarding the EU Enlargement Project in the Case of Turkey

Article excerpt

Today, we can mainly make reference to two different main projections of future for the EU: (a) the position defended by France and Germany, which presupposes that there should be 'not a geographically very big but politically and economically strong social Europe', and the projection of the UK and Sweden, which aims to construct a bigger and liberal Europe driven by intergovernmental procedures. According to these two different projects, the attitudes of those four countries vis-a-vis enlargement certainly differ and shape two contrasting camps. The first camp, Franco-Germanique alliance, insists that the Union should first solve its major problems such as the Constitution, budgetary issues (percentage of annual contributions, le cheque britannique, CAP) and institutional reforms before proceeding to any further enlargement. The second camp that is more liberal and pro-enlargement is represented by the UK and Sweden. These two countries put emphasis on the overall positive contributions of the enlargement, especially regarding economic issues and stability problems, and underline the negative consequences that a possible slow down or break in the enlargement process might engender for the Union.


This article aims to explore two different viewpoints dominant in the EU vis-a-vis the enlargement project. These two approaches are mainly represented by the Franco-Germanique alliance versus British one. More precisely, it appears from attitudes of these states that they have very different tendencies regarding the enlargement. France and Germany defend the idea of a politically strong Europe with a cultural and institutional model; they are, therefore, more hesitant vis-a-vis enlargement and want to slow it down or stop it until the Union resolves its internal problems such as the Constitution issue, institutional reform, etc ... On the other hand, British and Swedish are more pro-enlargement. They are against the idea of a possible breakdown in the enlargement process, and they underline the importance of enlargement for Europe as well as the probable high costs in case of non-enlargement. They conceive this question as a matter of European integration.

The term of 'integration' has been used for very long time in European language and it points out mostly the degree of alignment of policies of Member States to the European Union regulations or the historical progress that the EU has achieved so far in areas of economic, social and foreign policy. However, the 'European Integration' term used in this paper does refer neither to economic integration nor to the historical integration of the EU, but rather refers to future efforts of enlargement and the integration of future members into the Union.

To put the subject more precisely, France and Germany do have a more hesitating attitude towards the enlargement and they put forward some issues such as Union's absorption capacity, borders of Europe, or alternative ways to full-membership, before every future enlargement. Meanwhile, the Great Britain, like Sweden, is more willing to push the enlargement and consider the addition of new countries as a challenge for European integration; but a challenge that should be faced. This difference of approach reflects itself also in the terminology used in official European language. French and Germans prefer to use the terms of 'absorption' or even 'assimilation' when they speak of the EU's capacity to absorb (or as recently changed by the three European institutions; integrate) new members; while British put emphasis on the term of integration.

In addition, this difference of perception is heavily felt under other main areas of discussion in European politics such as the subject of 'limits of Europe' and 'Turkey's membership'. Hence, French and Germans have a forceful discourse on the necessity to define geographical limits of the EU as well as the limits of its political project; while British and Swedish, like the CEC, defend the idea that it is useless and even unproductive to define the limits of Europe. …

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