The United States, the European Union, and the "Globalization" of World Trade: Allies or Adversaries?

By Thomas C. Fischer | Go to book overview

Chapter 10
Widening the European Community

If the European Union is facing so many challenges in the "deepening" process, should it be trying to "widen" (add new members) at the same time? It might be wise for the EU to husband its resources and attempt just one initiative at a time. But political and economic forces don't always allow this. The deepening of the Community, discussed earlier, is made necessary by rapidly changing world economic conditions. Widening has been thrust on the EU by the failure of communism in Europe.

One should not be too pessimistic about the EU's ability to deepen and widen concurrently, however. Since it was founded in 1957, the EU has expanded to fifteen states. It could well add several more early in the twenty- first century. 1 At the same time, the EU fifteen was deepening as well. So the two processes surely can proceed in tandem.

What makes the EU's expansion more difficult this time around is the condition of the governments and economies of the accession candidates. Harmonization in the EU's international market is more difficult if EU expansion creates greater diversity. To delay the accession of Central and Eastern European states (CEEs) too long is to risk creating political and economic instability in the region. That may cost the EU more than their inclusion would. On the other hand, absorbing them too soon (before they are economically and politically ready) might strain the Community's programs so much that there is neither a single market nor the international influence that the EU covets.

The "ins" and the "outs" seek integration for opposite reasons. EU members want stable eastern states as a buffer to post-Soviet political instability and ambitions. The CEEs want to align with the EU and NATO to get the security that those alliances might provide. They want EU capital

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