EUROPEAN UNION | What's EU Enlargement? - BBC News
CBBC Newsround | EUROPEAN UNION | What's EU Enlargement?
Now the interests linked to the eastern enlargement have been mostly satisfied, at least in the German case, but the favorable international aura for new candidates has passed definitively. The Europe’s failure in the Arab Spring has shown the limits of the European foreign policy and of its ability to influence positively the situation in North Africa and Middle East. But especially in the East the EU has faced the strong opponent to its further enlargement policy—Russia, which has resolvedly refused to accept any activities of the EU in its post-soviet sphere of influence. The crisis on the Vilnius summit in 2013, the refusal of Yanukovych to sign the association agreement and the attempt to suppress the civil protests in Ukraine with the Russia’s support marked the turning point. For the first time (with exception of Georgia in 2008—the warning never taken seriously in Europe) the EU’s soft power exerted in order to widen the European influence in the neighborhood with rather modest promise of future membership has met with violent response. It was a shock for many in Europe and it has confirmed many fears and prejudices that have always accompanied the process of enlargement. It is paradoxical that the most successful political and economic project, which enlargement probably was in the whole postwar integration history of Europe, has become for many in Western and Southern parts of the Union the source of all evil. Immigration, unemployment, confrontation with Russia have been indicated as negative consequences of the enlargement process and fueled the rising political power of far right, anti-European parties in many of old member counties, foremost in France and the Netherlands.
European Union Enlargement - Candidate Member States
One could currently doubt whether the idea of enlargement is still present in the EU’s political agenda. But history accelerates again and the lack of strategic assertiveness and strength of the EU in times of an unprecedented upheaval in Ukraine can undermine in turn the European project as such. It is not clear whether the societies and the political elite in old member states really understand the meaning of current challenge comprised by the future of Ukraine. France, immersed in its own identity fatigue, seeks to keep Germany as close as possible in the framework of a restored small Europe. The UK is on the way to its deep splendid isolation from the EU and European affairs. Germany, as usual, is dramatizing the issue of its potential leadership in the EU, which can never be realized partly because of the historical identity problems partly of the failed strategic choices (Russia first). If this political uncertainty and instability correlates now with the wide spread anti-European mode in electorates, the EU’external activities can become blocked for a long time.