The European Union’s enlargement process risks sidelining the public, which may threaten the public support for enlargement as well as the Union’s record of transparency and openness, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) warned. It proposes that the EU should attempt to remedy this situation by seeking public input on official positions and making its negotiating positions publicly available.
The WWF welcomed the Laeken Summit’s support for a “big bang” enlargement to 10 candidate countries. However, it warned that the EU should apply the principles of “bringing citizens, and primarily the young, closer to the European design and the European institutions” to the process of enlargement.
“Public support is becoming increasingly important as the enlargement process heads into its final stretch, yet preparations for enlargement are largely taking place removed from the public and behind closed doors,” said Ellen Townsend, WWF Accession Policy Officer.
The WWF warns that accession negotiations have taken place with “virtually no involvement or consultation of citizens or stakeholders”. It adds that “the sagging public support for enlargement is one indication of the distance people feel from a process that will have a significant impact on their lives”.