2005-06-19

A European time-out?

Olli Rehn, the EU's enlargement commissioner, has an op-ed in yesterday's Paris edition of the Times.

The piece begins by describing the doom and gloom that's enveloped the Brussels club after the Franco-Dutch slap of a few weeks ago, and this week's failed summit.

It then dives into the matter by stating,
Certainly we need to pace ourselves after last year, when 10 new members joined the Union.
The rest is very much along those rather surprising lines. The tenor is one of sauve-qui-peut enlargement -- we'll take a big leap (RO, BG, maybe HR) so we can retreat better (TR, the rest of the Balkans). We'll be proactive now so we can slack later.

Check this:
We have to take into account the concerns of those who consider that enlargement is moving too fast. Since the enlargement agenda is already stretched to its limits, we must be very cautious about taking on new commitments. But the EU was founded on the principle of sticking to one's word.
This means that Bulgaria and Romania will join the Union in 2007, if they fulfil the conditions. It also means that accession negotiations will start with Croatia and Turkey once the two countries meet the strict criteria.
Translation: we'll let them in because we signed all the papers already but after that the door will close. In fact, the entire piece -- despite referencing the Western Balkans -- only mentions the four countries with which there's some sort of formalized ties already: RO, BG, HR, and TR.

The only other place mentioned is Kosovo because the EU realizes that this is the problem to tackle this year and next, but for purely instrumental reasons -- because the Kosovo Albanians, after years of peaceful resistance, have learned the lesson that being peaceful will get you no points while violence will help advance your agenda.

With Bosnia or Macedonia, let alone Albania, no such instrumental argument can be made, or at least not as convincingly as for Kosovo. That's why I think the European perspective has received a serious blow in these countries -- perhaps a fatal one.

4 comments:

filologanoga said...

My god... I see it in English for the first time: EU enlargement, like those penis enlargement spam ads... Only this enlargement can be too effective.

Heleen said...

This is rather interesting: http://news.ft.com/cms/s/3d89ee74-dd3b-11d9-b590-00000e2511c8.html

A different opinion from Giuliano Amato, Jean-Luc Dehaene, Carl Bildt and Richard Von Weizsäker.

Didn't have the time to look up if the text was available anywhere for free, unfortunately. (It appeared today in Belgian newspaper De Standaard, as well. Not free, and in Dutch at that).

Anonymous said...

The op-ed, signed by former German president von Weizsäcker and Messrs. Amato, Bildt, and Dehaene - former prime ministers of Italy, Sweden and Belgium - can be found online (free) in French, under the stirring title:
"Dirigeants européens, les Balkans vous attendent !"
Le Monde (Paris) 18.06.2005
www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3232,36-663707,0.html

T K Vogel said...

French? Aren't we pushing it a bit? What about us dumb Yanks who don't know all these refined Old-Europe languages? Ah, salvation is at hand: check out http://www.balkan-commission.org/
and follow the link to the full report, and from there to "Open letter," where you'll find the full text -- in English.