Magazine article Europe-East

European Parliament : Reforming the Eu before Any Further Enlargement

Magazine article Europe-East

European Parliament : Reforming the Eu before Any Further Enlargement

Article excerpt

With the European Commission having just adopted its new strategy for the EU policy on enlargement, the European Parliament has also started to examine the question from the angle of which reforms should be implemented before any further enlargement can take place. MEPs from the Constitutional Affairs Committee adopted the draft report by Alexander Stubb (EPP-ED, Finland) on the institutional aspects of the Capacity for Integration in the EU. The plenary will vote on the text in December, a few days before being presented at the European Council, which will take place just prior to Bulgaria and Romania's official entry into the EU on 1 January.

The document, despite being short and comprehensive, was subjected to numerous amendments (149), although these tended mainly to be questions of terminology.

The text first refers to the EU's "capacity for absorption," a concept that was first raised in 1993 during the European Council in Copenhagen. It has subsequently been replaced by the term "capacity for integration" which corresponds better to the idea behind it "in so far as the EU does not in any way absorb its members". Stubb explains that the capacity for integration does notconstitute a new accession criterion.

Recognising that the EU is currently faced with "difficulties in following up on the commitments made to the countries of south-east Europe," the report recommends a series of institutional changes as a means of increasing the so-called capacity for integration (see box). Many of the listed changes are included in the draft Constitutional Treaty. The report also confirms that the Constitution will reinforce the Union's capacity for integration and that the Treaty of Nice does not offer "an appropriate base for further enlargement".

Any future enlargement will also require structural changes, such as the revision of the Financial Perspectives, the redefinition of several policies, some of which were implemented 50 years ago, and a strengthening of the Neighbourhood Policy. …

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