European Union (Essay)
THE "BIG BANG" IN EUROPE
Another ten countries will be able to join the European Union in the next two years. This expansion is entitled as "Big Bang" and can not be compared with any other. Slovakia will also be a part of it, which is important for us. Politically and economically, we will be ready to become a member of the EU in the year 2004. But do the present members of the union agree with it?
It'll not be a piece of cake to finance the expansion of the EU, so the European Commission has to convince the sceptic members to cooperate. Why sceptic? Ten countries are supposed to join the EU. That's something about 76 million inhabitants. The GDP of the union would be only 5 percent higher as now, which is not a big contribution for the EU. But let's try to take a look at this fact from an other side. As a matter of fact, the growth potential of the candidate countries is higher than the growth potential of the present members. And also the costs needed to expand the EU can be compared to the price of the non-expansion, which is even higher. However, it's true that somehow, the governments of the EU-member countries forgot to make an expansion-campaign in their area. So, the major part of the EU-population still thinks, that we haven't changed a lot since the communistic times. They're afraid, that the workers from the eastern Europe will overflow the market with non-quality product and that the organized crime will spread all over the EU area. They don't realize, that the candidates had to graduate through the economical, social and judicial revolution. By entering the union, they'll be able to fulfill the european norms even better than some of today's member countries do. So one of the very main objectives in the next year will be to inform the population about the expansion. Although some of the candidate countries also became sceptic, Slovakia stays optimistic. Well, let's try not to take the situation so easy, as it looks like. When we finally reach the membership in the EU, we'll still have to be ready to fulfill the tasks and instructions the union gives us. The present member countries don't have to be so afraid of our future membership, because the EU is currently working on another safety provisions. The European Commission has invented an independent mechanism, which will help the present member countries to defend themselves from the negative influences caused by the new members.
This mechanism doesn't force the candidates to make any new decisions. It gives the opportunity to discuss about the problem fast, not to punish fast. This clause can be very useful in some cases. For example, if some of the food products wouldn't fulfill the fixed criteria, they could be expelled from the single market. Of course, the candidates will have to agree with accepting the clause as a part of the treaty. The clause will certainly provide some advantages for the candidates. If we were facing a problem, which could be caused by a huge competition within the european single market, we would be able to defend our sctructures by using the clause. The reccomendations of the European Commission have to be discussed as well as the way the expansion of the EU will be financed. Germany, Sweden, Great Britain and Netherlands are the main financial sources for the european public purse. They don't want to pay the future members directly, but they must be ready to make compromises. The Germany itself is facing a lot of financial problems and doesn't want to have more. A strong decision had to be made in Ireland the last month. The population of this country had the opportunity to influence the expansion with their votes. Fortunately, they voted for the expansion, so the door to the European Union are open. Except the strategy in the process of the EU-expansion, the European Commission has to regularly evaluate the candidates. Although the last evaluation looked positive for us, the EC mentioned and also pointed at some of our problems. One of the biggest of them is corruption. It will take a lot of time and hard work to deal with it, but there's no problem that could not be effectively solved until the beginning of the year 2004. In fact, in most of the integration chapters, the comission praises us for the progress we made. I think that we belong to a better average, as well as the Czech Republic or Hungary does. So, there's no need to be afraid of the eastern countries joining the EU. The governments of the present member countries should inform their population about the progress we've made since the last few years. It's also necessary to assure them, that we are a territory, in which new investments can be settled up and mention that we're fulfilling all of the fixed criteria to enter the union. After all these steps, it's up to us if we will be invited to the european structures with a potential to become a modern and well-developed central european country.