Magazine article Europe-East

Enlargement : Conference Assesses Last Two Waves, Notes Effects of Crisis

Magazine article Europe-East

Enlargement : Conference Assesses Last Two Waves, Notes Effects of Crisis

Article excerpt

The "unquestionable economic and social success" of the last two waves of EU enlargement has been overshadowed by the current economic crisis and the resultant resurrection of protectionist tendencies in certain member states and the "weakening of solidarity" among them, said MEP Istvan Szent-Ivanyi (ALDE, Hungary) at a conference organised by the ALDE group on the outcome of the last two waves of enlargement, on 4 March in Brussels. "If we had this conference a year ago, the picture would be significantly different," he added.

Underlining the benefits of the 2004 and 2007 enlargements, which resulted from the political and economic openness of the then 15 member states towards their Central and Eastern European neighbours as well as Cyprus and Malta, Szent-Ivanyi spoke critically of countries such as France, Spain and Italy for being tempted to resort to protectionism in order to deal with the current economic turmoil. According to Szent-Ivanyi, this trend goes against the EU's vital rules and principles of economic freedom. "Protectionism is not a remedy. On the contrary, it's part of the problem," he said, calling for greater trade freedom and the immediate removal of all remaining restrictions to the free movement of services and workers within the EU.

According to Szent-Ivanyi, rather than applying protectionist measures, the member states should better understand each other's needs. "We should avoid any misunderstandings. Solidarity is not a charity. …

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