Deutsche Bank Research: no binding commitments to enlargement target dates
The analysis, entitled “Enlargement after Gothenburg – false sense of security”, estimates that a commitment to close all the negotiation chapters by the end of 2002 is “a very ambitious target”, considering that the chapters on agricultural and structural policy are to be negotiated only after the German and French elections in summer 2002.
“And finally, even timely completion of the negotiations does not necessarily mean the candidate countries will be able to participate in the European Parliament elections as members, because the ratification process can take a long time,” says Deutsche Bank Research.
The commentary analyses the Irish rejection of the Nice Treaty, which shook the foundations of the enlargement process. It emphasises several issues:
- Smaller countries are annoyed at losing influence as a result of new decision-making structures in connection with enlargement.
- It also reflects the scepticism regarding the future direction of the EU, which is widespread in the member countries.
- Large sections of the EU population see an enlarged union as a diffuse entity with which they cannot identify. Hence, support for enlargement is not particularly strong in the individual member states.
- Not only in Ireland is the enlargement project associated more closely with the fight for funding, production quotas and voting rights than with the political and economic benefits for Europe and closer European integration.
Deutsche Bank Research concludes that “a lot of communicating and convincing should have been done, and the failure to do so is now weighing on the enlargement process”. It calls on politicians to participate in “a much broader discussion on the new structures and goals of a larger union” in order not to endanger the progress of the enlargement process.