Member of the European Commission responsible for Regional Policy
The European Union in 2020 � Still strong or long gone?
Seminar at the University of Sussex
Sussex University, 25 February 2005.
.....The other countries in south-eastern Europe will join in the following years. But of course a massive change will occur as the Union grows to absorb Turkey and possibly Ukraine by around 2015. These two countries would add around 125 million citizens to the Union, bringing the total population to around 635 million or 40% more than today.
The power of attraction of the Union to neighbouring states is proving enormous. Only the very rich, Norway and Switzerland, or the very independent, Russia and perhaps the United Kingdom, seem to be able to resist this temptation. Enlargement is indeed the Union’s best developed policy.
But enlargement puts the existing policies of the Union under considerable pressure. Almost all future enlargements will be to countries which are poorer and more agricultural than the EU-25. Yet the two main elements of the expenditure side of the EU budget are the structural funds and the CAP. With unchanged policies the budgetary requirements in an EU of 34, including Turkey and Ukraine, would rise considerably. Yet even today the Member States are having difficulty in accepting the Commission’s relatively modest proposal in the Financial Framework 2007-2013 to raise spending to 1.14% of Gross National Income over that period. Something will have to give. Either the level of spending through the EU budget will have to rise sharply or policies will have to change significantly.
Every enlargement brings changes to foreign policy and a future enlargement to Turkey and Ukraine would bring new countries into the EU’s direct neighbourhood: Georgia, Armenia, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. This would impact seriously on our foreign policy as we would be drawn in directly to the situation in the Middle East and the Caucasus. There is a difference between classic foreign policy and neighbourhood policy."
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