Prodi outlines EU proximity policy

According to Commission President Romano Prodi, after enlargement the EU should be surrounded by a “ring of friends”, “from Morocco to Russia and the Black Sea”.

In a speech on "A wider Europe", delivered in Brussels on 6 December, Mr Prodi outlined his view on the EU's proximity policy, which he said should offer to its neighbours "more than partnership and less than membership, without precluding the latter". He said that the enlargement of the Union cannot continue forever and that the Member States must answer the question "Where does Europe end?" He said the integration of the Balkans "will complete the unification of the continent". However, in the future "no European state that complies with the Copenhagen criteria we established in 1993 will be denied" the prospect of membership. But, Mr Prodi said, the prospect of membership does not mean a promise of accession.

"A proximity policy would not start with the promise of membership, and it would not exclude eventual membership", Mr Prodi said. "This would do away with the problem of having to say 'yes' or 'no' to a country applying for membership at too early a stage". Eventually this process would create a situation where the Union would share with its neighbours "everything but institutions". The aim would be to extend to the neighbours a set of principles, values and standards, which define the very essence of the Union, Mr Prodi said.


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