UNICE: Enlargement to increase EU’s competitiveness

European business expressed strong support for enlargement.

European business strongly supports enlargement of the European Union, says UNICE (Union of Industrial and Employers’ Confederations of Europe) in its position paper on enlargement, presented at a press conference in Brussels on 12 October.

UNICE sees enlargement as mutually beneficial to EU member states and candidate countries, and as a boost to the competitiveness of the European economy. Enlargement will also enhance political and economic stability in candidate countries and the whole of Europe, according to UNICE.

The paper warns that structural reforms are needed in member states and candidate countries. At the time of accession, the EU must have achieved its internal reform and put in place the financial framework required for enlargement. Candidate countries for their part must have adopted, fully implemented, and have the will and capacity to enforce the EU law and policies relating to the single market and flanking policies, as well as the external commercial policy of the Union.

UNICE agrees that transition periods may need to be accepted in certain cases, however, they should be limited in scope and in time and combined with strict conditions for full application of the EU law.

The paper cautions that the enlargement process should not lose momentum, and that the principle of differentiation and the monitoring of progress must be applied strictly both for the closing of negotiating chapters and for the opening of new ones.

The EU, member state and candidate country authorities should consult with business on all company-related enlargement matters, stresses UNICE. Business can also give useful input as regards breaches of Europe Agreement provisions, says the position paper.

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