|The Courier N° 145 - May - June 1994- Dossier : European Union: the Way forward - Country Report: Ethiopia (EC Courier, 1994, 104 p.)|
by David Spence
The Maastricht Treaty finally entered into force on 1 November 1993, but the European Union is again on the move and in two major ways; enlargement is firmly on the agenda and an intergovernmental conference (IGC) in 1996 will review the effectiveness of the Treaty on European Union (TEU). Importantly, the IGC will clearly go beyond its original brief and be obliged to deal with the consequences of the European Union's mooted further expansion. So, widening and deepening the European Union, as so often before, will be closely linked in the coming months.
As regards widening, there are still formal applications on the table from Cyprus, Malta and Turkey. Negotiations for admission were completed in March 1994 with Norway, Sweden, Austria and Finland after just one year, the formal process having begun at a meeting of foreign ministers on 1 February 1993. Membership will be implemented, in principle, in 1995. Now many states in Central and Eastern Europe (CCEE) have also announced their intention to apply for membership. Indeed, European Council meetings over the last two years have stressed the Union's willingness to contemplate admitting them when the time is right, and the 'stability pact' on which the European Council reported at Brussels on 10/11 December 1993 is to focus 'on those countries of Central and Eastern Europe which have the prospect of becoming members of the European Union and vis-is which the Union has greater opportunities to exert its influence more effectively, particularly the six CCEE and the three Baltic countries'.
This confirmed the decision taken at the Edinburgh, Lisbon and Copenhagen summits in 1992 and 1993 to extend membership to these countries in due course.
But if enlargement seems a foregone conclusion, it is still worth asking 'why enlargement?' and 'why now?'. The answers are complex and they point to a major shift in world affairs. Europe is at a turning point brought about in 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell and the fate of the former Soviet bloc was sealed. The collapse of the Soviet Union spelled the end of the bipolar system and of division in Europe. It has meant a new era in international relations, with states formerly under Soviet influence or with traditions of political neutrality seeing a major obstacle to their claim to be a part of the European mainstream removed.
German unification was one immediate manifestation of this new era in international relations. Freed from the constraints of Soviet hegemony, the two Germanys came together after decades of artificial separation and the new Germany rapidly became a symbol for the potential unification of the whole of Europe and a catalyst for further Community enlargement. Indeed, through German unification one enlargement of the Community has already taken place. The former German Democratic Republic (GDR) was integrated into the German Federal Republic in October 1990, thereby becoming an integral part of the European Community. There was not, of course, a formal accession of the GDR, but the Community was enlarged by the nearly 17 million citizens of the five new German Lander (Spence 1991).
Of course, entry in the short term is envisaged only for the four EFTA countries, but with the CCEE, the Baltic States and the Mediterranean countries of Turkey, Cyprus and Malta, there are at least 12 countries waiting in the wings. Their reasoning is simple. The end of European division has reawakened a sense of cultural solidarity throughout Europe and there is a strong political and economic attraction in being part of the Union. This is quite simply because it makes sense to be part of the decision-making in economic and political affairs which anyway sets the framework from which these countries cannot escape - European states are increasingly interdependent in the 1990s.
But there is a political dilemma about enlargement. It concerns the basic issue of further European integration, or 'deepening', as the Euro-jargon has it. The Member States of the European Union have to reach a view on membership for those countries where it may be politically desirable and where there is a clear sense of European identity. But, for some of these potential candidates, there are problems with regard to implementation of all the achievements of European integration. For the Union there is a twofold risk involved. There is the potential for a multi-speed Europe on the one hand, but on the other there is the likelihood that the advantages of enlargement might be counterbalanced by economic costs and hurdles to further integration. This article examines some of the issues involved and draws some conclusions of relevance to regional and local interests.
Challenging issues for potential candidates
The European Union is undeniably known es 'Europe'. But Prague and Vienna are clearly as much part of Europe as Berlin, Paris and London. Where does Europe end? How many states will the European Union of 2010 comprise? The maps of the European Economic Area are certainly not the whole story. The treaties are very clear on the legal prerequisites for membership. Article 237 of the Treaty of Rome and Article O of the Maastricht Treaty specify three conditions. Acceptable candidates must be European, democratic and have a clean record on human rights. But entrance requirements are not only issues of principle. Negotiations with the EFTA applicants took place on the basis of the Treaty of European Union (Maastricht), including the vital pillar of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), and included a full review of the 'acquis communautaire' - the body of primary and secondary legislation making up the Union's legal and policy framework. The latter is the basic economic preconditon for membership, but it needs to be stressed that making the 'acquis communautaire' work relies on a market economy, a well co-ordinated legal system and a properly functioning civil service capable of implementing and supervising Union legislation.
Union decision-making is a complex process. Running the presidency, for example, makes high demands on the civil service of the country holding it and the sensitive question needs to be asked about how some of the potential member states could manage the demands effectively (Wallace and Michalski 1992). The Commission's report to the European Council in Copenhagen in June 1993 listed the following considerations for an applicant country (Commission 3/92):
- the capacity of the country concerned to assume the obligations of membership (the 'acquis communautaire');
- the stability of institutions in the candidate country guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for minorities;
- the existence of a functioning market economy;
- the candidate's endorsement of the objectives of political, economic and monetary union;
- its capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union;
- the Union's capacity to absorb new members while maintaining the momentum of European integration.
The four EFTA applicants fuffilled these criteria and have now successfully negotiated for membership. The package of transitional measures and derogations from the 'acquis' was completed in early March. The next hurdle is referenda in the applicant countries and formal ratification, not only by the European Parliament, but by Member State and applicant state parliaments. The Single European Act gave the European Parliament the right to sanction the process of enlargement by allowing it to 'assent' to membership, a right reiterated and further defined in the Treaty on European Union, which states in Article O that:
'Any European State may apply to become a Member of the Union. It shall address its application to the Council, which shall act unanimously after consulting the Commission and after receiving the assent of the European Parliament, which shall act by an absolute majority of its component members.
'The conditions of admission and the adjustments to the Treaties on which the Union is founded which such admission entails shall be the subject of an agreement between the Member States and the applicant state. This agreement shall be submitted for ratification by all the contracting States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.'
Thus European parliamentarians have had a right of close scrutiny of representatives of the Council and the Commission over the past months and senior politicians from the applicant countries have also addressed European Parliament committees. Since enlargement involves amendments to the treaty, primary legislation is needed, so the parliaments of the member states join the parliaments of the applicant states in the search for formal endorsement. From the perspective of the Union it was decided early on in the process that new applicants would enter as a group rather than at different points in time. Otherwise, a series of separate ratifications would be necessary. That would run the risk of complications with legislative timetables in each Member State and the potential for embarrassing delays for procedural reasons applicable to one or more of the applicant states. It also made sense to streamline the process of scrutiny required for national parliaments to assent to the legislative changes involved. Further entry is thus also likely to be by waves.
Why EFTA first?
The EFTA states had a head start in the enlargement process, since much of the important economic integration has been achieved in the complex negotiations leading to the creation of the European Economic Area (EEA). The EFTA countries can be integrated more easily into the Union than the Central and Eastern Europeans, since much of the 'acquis communautaire' was incorporated into national law by Sweden, Finland, Norway and Austria when the EEA came into force on 1 January 1994. The EEA was, of course, originally due to begin on 1 January 1993 and was to include all the EFTA states. Full membership became a viable option in the middle of negotiations on the EEA, though Iceland and Liechtenstein did not express their intention to extend the EEA arrangements and become full members of the Union. As for Switzerland, on 6 December 1992, just as the Commission was preparing its opinion on the formal application for membership, the Swiss voted against ratification of the European Economic Area, thus postponing consideration of full membership as well.
The origins of the Community's opening towards EFTA lie in the mid-1980s when discussions began on how the benefits of the Community's internal market could be shared. In the beginning the idea was to set up a European Economic Area incorporating EFTA and the EC and creating one market for the whole of Western Europe. The EFTA states were not to be required to accept the supranational aspects of full integration into the Community, thus allowing them to remain formally outside a Community perceived as part of the Western bloc. But as change swept through Eastern Europe and the previously neutral EFTA states of Austria, Finland and Sweden began to review their overall position in Europe's new international relations, EFTA countries' participation in the EEA rapidly came to be seen as the antechamber to full membership that history had previously denied.
Membership of the Community would have been conceivable earlier for Norway and Iceland. As NATO members, they had never resisted international alliances, as had the other EFTA states. But Norway's bid in 1972 to become a member of the Community failed when a referendum pronounced against entry, and Iceland always considered full membership as incompatible with its interests. The neutrality of Austria, Sweden, Finland and Switzerland largely explains their refusal to be part of the European Community. They could not reconcile neutrality with the longterm political implications of European integration and the perception of the Community as part of the Western side in the bipolar world. Their concept of neutrality may now be redefined. Their overall foreign policy stance will certainly be reviewed as they become full participants in the European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).
The most important reason for the EFTA countries to envisage membership is that the 1980s saw the Community become the largest trading bloc in the world. The EFTA economies are dependent on it as a market and as a source of imports. The Community's role in the area of the four freedoms, including the vital area of production standards, means there is an economic and political cost in not participating in the decision-making process by which those standards are set. The Norwegian Prime Minister put the point tellingly in a statement to the Norwegian Parliament on 16 December 1992, when she said:
'In order to regain control of many of the forces that shape our daily lives, we must be able to make democratic decisions that truly enable us to meet our challenges. It is no longer possible... to tell Norwegian voters that we can carry out all our tasks by means of decisions in Norway alone. If we cut ourselves off from fore where important decisions are made, we are in reality restricting our own freedom of action... Unless we ourselves decide otherwise, the EC may in a few years' time comprise all of Europe except for Norway, Iceland, certain countries in the Balkans and Russia.'
Overview of the negotiations
In practice, the process of enlargement involves the European Council requesting an initial 'avis' or 'opinion' on individual applications from the Commission. Once the Commission has expressed a favourable opinion and its view has been endorsed by the Council, formal negotiations with the applicant country are then conducted by the Presidency of the Council. The Commission provides technical support through preparatory and exploratory talks to identify and attempt to resolve contentious points. In the case of the enlargement negotiations concerning the EFTA applicants, there were 29 areas of the 'acquis' to be covered. Most of these areas were covered in talks between officials of the Commission Task Force for Enlargement and their counterparts from ministries in the applicant countries. The sensitive areas of negotiation concern parts of the 'acquis communautaire' which the applicants may not wish to apply immediately. Exemptions are not automatic and the discussions on such points were complex. The Community's view was that membership must be on the basis of acceptance of the whole 'acquis' of the Union - the Treaties of Paris and Rome, the Single European Act and the Treaty of Union, with all the legal acts of secondary legislation and European Court decisions in existence. Where amendments or transitory arrangements were called for by the applicants, the Commission proposed to the Council a 'common position'. Member States deliberated on the basis of these proposals, sometimes accepting, sometimes further amending the proposed common position, which the Presidency then defended in direct negotiations at ambassadorial level and subsequently with ministers from the applicant countries.
The economic problems posed by enlargement included important budgetary effects of membership, problematic policy areas such as state aids for the isolated farming communities in outlying areas of Finland, Sweden and Norway or the adjustments to be made to the regimes of the Common Agricultural Policy. Negotiations were also necessary on potential exemptions where the applicant states felt unable to fulfil immediately the criteria of the 'acquis communautaire', in areas such as secondary homes and Alpine transit for the Austrians, fisheries and energy policy for the Norwegians, state monopolies in alcohol for all the Nordic applicants and a host of areas where standards were simply out of line (and often higher in the applicant states), such as in the environmental field. The significant issue of access to the structural funds for Arctic areas was a bone of contention right up until the close of negotiations, when a new 'objective 6' was introduced to accommodate the legitimate concerns of the Nordic countries where it is essential to keep vast tracks of land occupied, despite the sparseness of existing agricultural communities in those areas.
As for politically problematic areas, neutrality was always believed to be a potential stumbling block. Sweden, Finland, Austria and Switzerland have long traditions of neutrality and many commentators have seen an incompatibility between neutrality and the Treaty of Union's move to a Common Foreign and Security Policy, leading possibly to a common defence system. However, various declarations by the EFTA governments cleared this potential problem away. For example, in his letter of 25 November 1992 to John Major as President of the European Council, Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt declared:
'Sweden shares the political objectives of the European Community, as laid down in the Maastricht Treaty ('les finalites politiques'). This implies, of course, that we are prepared to conduct membership negociations on the basis of the Treaty on European Union.'
The implication is that the Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy is not seen as a hindrance to Swedish membership. The Austrian government's aides memoire before the Lisbon and Edinburgh Councils similarly confirmed 'unconditional commitment to the Treaty on European Union'.
The enlargement negotiations finished in March 1994 with the cliffhanging style with which observers of European politics are familiar. The deadline had been set at 28 February, since there had to be time for the European Parliament to review arrangements and give its assent before the end of the parliamentary term in late Spring. The subsequent European elections meant waiting for new committees to be set up in the new Parliament beginning work in September. It was essential, if the deadline of entry in January 1995 were not to lose all credibility, for enough time to be left for applicants and Member States to go through their own ratification procedures. Entry in 1995 was important to allow the new members full participation in the deliberations of the intergovernmental conference planned for 1996. By 1 March it had become clear that meeting this deadline was not easy. Norway's negotiations were postponed for a week after an all-night negotiating session failed to resolve the fisheries question. Meanwhile, negotiations proceeded with a 'stopped clock' for the other candidates. Last minute deals still needed to be struck on heavy lorry transit through Austria (a ten-year phase-in period as the Austrians wished or three to six years as the Union was insisting?), the size and timing (five-year phase-in?) of Swedish contributions to the EU budget and Arctic agriculture for Finland (100%, as the Finns argued, or 85% of total agricultural area, as the Union argued, to be eligible for EU aid?). Even when all these issues were settled, the timetable for Economic and Monetary Union and the size of the blocking minority for qualified majority voting in the Council remained vital issues on which it took EU governments time to reach a common position.
But these negotiations about the details of policy masked the fact that, in sum, the EFTA states present major advantages for the Union. Not only does the EU become the largest political and economic bloc in the world. The EFTA countries will boost Union GDP considerably, provide an important contribution to Union finances and bring about a logical integration of the West European aid effort in Eastern Europe and in the developing world.
Since the ability of the EFTA countries easily to meet the legal, political and economic criteria for membership meant that there was little threat posed to the deepening of the Union, there was no reason to lose time in shifting those applicants who could manage it from the EEA antechamber into full membership of the Union. This could be done, it was hoped, without what most Member States feared might prove the cost of widening, namely dilution of the 'acquis' and an obstacle to further deepening.
Deepening before widening
All these issues show that for states in the early stages of a market economy, and for poor states, the demands of membership could prove hard to meet. This is part of the reasoning behind taking enlargement as a series of phases, with states entering the Union only once the criteria are met. Hence the start made with the EFTA countries, which, as stressed above, were able, through the EEA, to meet most of the criteria for membership in the short term. 'Deepening' the Community is the jargon term for the expansion of Community competence to areas hitherto the exclusive domain of the individual Member States and improving the decision-making process by redefining the rights and duties of the European institutions. There have been two previous enlargement waves. The UK, Ireland and Denmark entered in 1973 after the Hague Summit had confirmed the acceptance by Member States of the principle of the Community's own resources and after the Community had introduced European Political Cooperation based on the Davignon report of 1971. The next wave was the Southern European states of Greece (1981 ) and Spain and Portugal (1986). Before Spain and Portugal entered, Member States agreed on the Single European Act. This introduced far-reaching changes to the Community's decision making process and added a string of new competences to Community business. In addition, foreign policy coordination, known as European Political Cooperation, then became part of the treaty-based functions of the Twelve. The Single European Act also anchored the aim of the completion of the single market by 1992 and ensured that the Community institutions had the administrative means to match their aim by providing for the majority decision-making mechanisms in the Council needed to break the deadlock on so many of the Commission's existing policy proposals. This was a major qualitative advance in European integration. It ended the long period of 'Euro-sclerosis' and 'Euro-pessimism' which had characterised the 1970s.
Changing geopolitics and the drive for enlargement have now once again led to a need to review the Community's internal workings. The Treaty of European Union signed in Maastricht resulted from the resetting of the European agenda brought about by German unification. It added more far-reaching changes to the Community's law-making capacity. The most significant is often thought to be economic and monetary union by 1999, but the importance of the intergovernmental arrangements for justice and home affairs and for common foreign and security policy should not be underestimated, nor should the many new areas of competence and the considerable shifts in policy-making from unanimity in Council decision-making to qualified majority voting.
Many supported the need for intergovernmental conferences on economic and political union as a way of reinforcing the Community and thus ensuring shared power over international economic forces, avoidance of German economic predominance after re-unification and a roof for the integration of the whole continent. The Treaty of Union represents the institutional adaptation this implies. The new Union now clearly exercises a considerable power of attraction over nonmember states. But for the existing Member States the issue remains how to bring about the enlargement of the Community all feel is desirable while conserving the advantages of European integration. Preventing the potential costs of widening from outweighing the benefits brought by new members will probably mean more discussions about deepening. Thus, as with previous enlargements, the Community has embarked on a process of strengthening the integration process before it takes on new members. The Treaty of European Union represents another deepening of the Community. The next intergovernmental conference in 1996 will continue the process.
There are, however, some who believed that widening should not take place before the 1996 conference has settled more operational guidelines for the European Union. It is true that the four applicant states tried to secure for themselves exemptions applicable to existing Member States - for example that applying to second homes in Denmark. Part of the negotiation process was to find ways round such issues, where the Union's position was not, in principle, to extend existing exemptions, for fear of weakening the 'acquis' and making more likely the emergence of a Europe a /a carte, with Member States choosing from a menu those policies which suited them. Now, the role of the applicant countries in the 1996 conference will be crucial to the shaping of the political identity of the new Europe. Some believe that the wisdom of the mature democracies of the EFTA group will contribute to the achievement of a sound system for an enlarged Europe. Federalists argue that there is a risk in diluting the supranational aspects of the Community by taking on demanding new members, who may wish, in the name of national traditions, to preserve their independence. Such arguments will be at the heart of the political debate in the next two years.
Maintaining momentum in a changing Europe
Table 1: Area
Table 2: Population
The changes in Europe and the prospect of enlargement have led to a new assessment of the purpose of integration and posed some of the fundamental questions raised as long ago as the 1940s when federalists debated with nationalists about the kind of Europe that should be created. Federalism, subsidiarily, transparency, democratic legitimacy and the limits of the integration process are all back on the agenda for debate at the same time as the Community prepares for enlargement and as the stakes become more complicated than ever before. The aim will be not to hold up the process of further integration in Europe. But are there alternatives to full membership which might prove an answer to the fears of the federalists?
There is an expansive logic to the European Community: a logic symbolised by the various forms of association or pre-membership relations other states in Europe now maintain with the Union. There are four categories. First, there are partnership agreements with some countries of the former Soviet Union. These are flanked by technical assistance programmes under the so-called TACIS arrangements (Technical Assistance to the Commonwealth of Independent States), aimed at making a Western European contribution to their economic development, but avoiding the question of membership of the Union. Second, there are the essentially economic association agreements with Turkey, Malta and Cyprus, each of which has made an application for full membership, but where the Commission's opinion has been that the time is not ripe. Then, there is the inside track of the EEA - it is conceivable that some EFTA applicants will not complete the ratification process; opinion polls suggest the conclusion is far from foregone, despite recent gradual swings in public opinion, including in hitherto hesitant Norway. For such an eventuality, both EFTA and the EEA could remain in place. There would then be potential for associate countries to join EFTA and the EEA if immediate membership proved unlikely (Baldwin CEPR 1992). Finally, there are the Europe Agreements with Poland, Hungary, the Czech and Slovak republics, Bulgaria and Romania. These are also called association agreements but go much further in the area of political links. As the Lisbon European Council concluded in June 1992, cooperation through these Agreements is the first stage in a process intended to lead to Union enlargement: 'Cooperation will be focused systematically on assisting them in their efforts to prepare for the accession to the Union which they seek' (Commission 3/92).
Meanwhile, the vital aim is to make the Agreements work (CEPR No 11, 1992). In the medium term the shape of the enlarged Union is thus easily discernible. Now that the current negotiations with the EFTA applicants are concluded, and providing the final agreements are ratified, Austria, Finland, Norway and Sweden will enter by 1995. By then, or soon thereafter, the question of Malta and Cyprus will arise. Both have formally applied for membership. There is little dissent about the 'European-ness' of Malta and Cyprus. But there are fundamental questions posed with regard to their size and the implications for the management of Union business. In the case of Cyprus, there are clear political difficulties arising from the division of the island. The vital question is compliance with the 'acquis communautaire' - hardly feasible in a country where freedom of movement of goods and persons is restricted.
Turkey is also a candidate, but Turkish membership is a more complex issue. The differences Turkey, as an Islamic culture, would bring into the Union are vast. Many would welcome the diversity. But there is no doubt that the process of adaptation would not be simple. Add to this the Turkish level of economic development, difficulties associated with the application of the 'acquis communautaire', some of the principles outlined above in Article O of Maastricht and the political differences with Greece, and it becomes clear that early Turkish membership, however desirable, might be fraught with difficulties. Successive European Councils have, of course, stressed the desirability of strengthened economic and political relations with Turkey. To quote the Lisbon European Council of June 1992: 'With regard to Turkey the European Council underlines that the Turkish role in the present European political situation is of the greatest importance and that there is every reason to intensify cooperation and develop relations in line with the prospect laid down in the Association Agreement of 1964, including a political dialogue at the highest level' (Commission 3/92).
After EFTA the next major enlargement wave is therefore likely to include the states of Central Europe - the Czech and Slovak republics, Poland and Hungary - the so-called Visegrad states and thereafter the two other Europe Agreement countries of Bulgaria and Romania. Meanwhile, the Baltic States and such countries as Slovenia, with which talks about Europe Agreement negotiations are under way, will make their-voices increasingly heard. With the defining line of 'Europe' in most people's minds likely to nun along the Ural mountain range, the size of a resulting European Union could be vast. The question is whether it would be unwieldy too.
The immediate problem about the next phases of enlargement is the timescale within which it is to occur. The applicant countries (and those which have indicated that they will be applicants in the near future) have no time to lose. Given the criteria for membership outlined above, various alternatives to full membership have been canvassed. They include maintaining the EEA as an antechamber to the Union, with prospective member states able to move into the EEA, having progressed through an association agreement. The EEA may well prove a sensible option for those applicants in respect of which full acceptance of Union rigours would be counterproductive - both for the Union and for the country concerned. Likewise, the Europe agreements are already intended to be a stepping stone to full membership. They may prove an acceptable alternative to full membership in the medium term.
The question is whether such alternative scenarios as a multi-speed Europe or a Europe of concentric circles are potentially dangerous for the integration process. Within the Union, Member States and applicants choosing from a menu the dishes they can most easily digest would detract from the aims of European integration set by the original six. It could prove tempting to take the benefits of integration without sharing in the costs. This is why the debate about enlargement goes hand in hand with a debate about the future of the Union itself. The European Union and its aspiring applicants may need to consider some structural alternatives if such dangers are to be avoided. This is a theme explored in a European Parliament Report by the German MEP Klaus Hansch (Hansch 1992).
Problems and prospects
The Union now has before it the deadline of 1996 set by Maastricht for a further review of the need for institutional reform in the light of the post Maastricht experience. The points will also be set in 1996 for the future shape of an enlarged Union. On the agenda are a series of implications of enlargement relevant to the internal development of the Union. A major issue is how to guarantee the efficient conduct of business. A Europe of 16, then, 22 or more members will mean some hard thinking about the efficiency of the Commission, the Council and the Parliament. Some will argue, for example, that there is no intrinsic need for each Member State to have a Commissioner. After all, the Commission represents the European interest and not that of the Member States. As for the appointment of the Commission President, Maastricht already provides for Member State agreement on the proposal for President and subsequent endorsement by the European Parliament. The Parliament may wish to take matters even further and consider a system of appointment of the whole Commission by Parliament itself after consultation with the Council. This would require rethinking the question of national balance, looking at the implications of the current political majority in Parliament, the removal of states' right to a Commissioner and limits on the number of Commissioners. These would be far-reaching measures, but they are being discussed in the European Parliament and in academic circles. At a political level, the UK has already argued that the number of Commissioners will have to be reduced if managerial efficiency is to be increased. (Major 1993). For the EFTA enlargement, the number of Commissioners increases by four.
The European Parliament will be affected not only by developments in relation to the Commission but by changes potentially necessary in its own organisation. The Edinburgh Council already decided to change the balance of membership starting with the European elections in June 1994. Thus, the total number of MEPs will increase from 518 to 567. The enlarged Germany, for example, will receive a further 18 members, converting the 18 East German observer seats into full parliamentary seats. More member states means more seats: 639 seats are required to do justice to an enlarged Union incorporating the EFTA candidates. Further enlargement will pose the question of how to maintain efficiency in such a dramatically enlarged parliament.
As for the Council of Ministers, with 12 members, the Presidency and the Commission, a 'tour de table' with a hypothetical 10 minuses for each speaker already takes 2 hours 20 minutes and the question of working languages and interpreting costs also raises many thorny issues. No less problematic is the operation of the Presidency of the Council. The Presidency is currently held by each Member State for six months every six years. Four additional members would lower the frequency to once every eight years. Should Member States share presidencies? What are the implications for the European civil services the Council Secretariat and the Commission? Would their roles need redefining?
The implications of an enlarged European Union thus need thorough consideration. Member States need to start soon to consider the implications of 16 and, potentially, far more members. The danger lies in discussion looking to the outside world like a list of empty long-term promises. Open debate, welcome as it is, can easily create expectations which political reality may have to dispel. There is a need for a clear distinction between political rhetoric and technical reality. While expressing readiness to help countries prepare for future membership, the European Union must avoid the danger of dilution of the goals and effectiveness of the Union. This means a hard-nosed calculation of the current benefits of integration and the generation of potential new benefits. The benefits may well generate destructive conflict at the same time.
Above all, decision-makers will need to avoid increased tensions within the Union. There have already been bitter rows about access to Union funding for the rich, successful EFTA countries. The same problems are magnified considerably with any of the next potential applicants. The policy implications of the next round of enlargement are potentially enormous. Finance, social policy, the common agricultural policy and the common foreign and security policy are obvious potential sources of stress. Even the definition of subsidiarily is not without problems. There is thus a series of implications for the internal policies of the Union, but there are also many possible international disputes present in the countries on the potential applicant list. The risks of differences within the Union thus not only arise in the domestic political field but extend to the 'high politics' of foreign policy, defence and strategic considerations.
es accession by stages or affiliate status forms part of the answer, as Commissioner Andriessen once argued, new thinking about alternatives to full membership may be needed. In the long term, Member States and the European Union institutions will clearly have to consider how much diversity they can tolerate and which policies they can leave to other international organisations or see remaining at the national or sub-national level in the framework of 'subsidiarily' (Wallace 1992). The dangers for the Union are many. It would be sad if the process of integration and the construction of a supranational Europe risked dilution because of governmental overload and the impossibility of reconciling the ideal of closer union with the practicality of a wider yet more efficient Europe. D.S.