Magazine article Europe-East

Interview with Philippe De Buck, Director-General of Businesseurope : Past and Future Enlargements Extremely Beneficial

Magazine article Europe-East

Interview with Philippe De Buck, Director-General of Businesseurope : Past and Future Enlargements Extremely Beneficial

Article excerpt

You are in direct contact with the representatives of business from the old member states. What signals do you receive from them as to the outcome of the last two waves of enlargement?

As I have said at the conference [see above], enlargement was very beneficial for the twelve new member states, but also for the Western part of the EU. But as I have also said today, a lot still needs to be done at national level in terms of structural reforms. The Eastern European countries have to invest more effort in intensifying these reforms since they have a lot to catch up with. On the other hand, they are not new to reforms, since they have had to implement them since 1989, when the reintegration of the European continent started following the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

You spoke about the lack of communication about the benefits of enlargement. What should the EU institutions do to change this situation?

I will be blunt. The EU does not communicate well. There are some objective reasons for that, such as the lack of proper instruments. The EU does not have its own media. But I'm convinced that the Commission could do much more to explain better the benefits of enlargement. As for the Parliament, the MEPs should better communicate the results of enlargement in their constituencies. The governments in turn aren't much better in informing their citizens. We have seen during the referendum [on the European Constitution] in France and the Netherlands as well as in Ireland [during referendum on the Lisbon Treaty] that there are many misunderstandings concerning the Union's enlargement. …

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