The paper "European Union Enlargement - Challenges to the Members" is a great example of a politics case study. There are seven countries including Kosovo and Bosnia waiting for approval to join the EU. These countries add up to a growing economic bloc that was previously a preserve of traditional European countries. Some parts of eastern European and Balkan countries have been traditionally viewed as non-European (Vachudova, 2012). Their entrance into the EU market is bound to have a far-reaching impact on the existing members, the new members and even nonmembers. However, it must be noted that it is not an issue of the EU not having an expansion agenda but rather the economic viabilities of such expansion given the policies that guide the EU and its core functions.
This paper seeks to show that although the enlargement will present new challenges to the members, there will be a net positive impact on the long run amongst members. Background and History The European Union is an economic and political grouping of 28 member-states in Europe that forms a common market. The market has a population of around 509 million people with a GDP of $16.69 trillion (2012) accounting for 23% of global GDP and 20% of the world's imports and exports (EU, 2013).
The union has its origins in 1958 through its predecessor European Economic Community, which had six members (EU 2014). The current name was adopted in 1993 and ever since membership has increased to include newer member states such as Slovakia and other Scandinavian states (EU 2014). In 1999, the union established the Eurozone as a monetary zone and was enacted in 2002 with the currency of choice named as the Euro.
Of the 28 EU members, 18 members belong to Eurozone. The European Central Bank (ECB) was established to regulate the currency as a recognized legal tender in the market (EU, 2014,). This move to establish a common currency indicates the direction in which the bloc is headed to. Furthermore, the EU has been admitting new members in an enlargement drive. This enlargement has been praised and criticized in equal measure. The first expansion move taken by the EU since the adoption of the name EU was in 1995.
Austria, Finland and Sweden were accessioned to the body. Other than enlargement, the EU pursued other developments such as the introduction of the Euro as a currency in 2002 in which only 18 members joined the common currency zone, Eurozone. In 2004, the union experienced the most significant with the accession of ten new member countries. These countries included Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. This move was widely debated by political and economic scholars to a die extent exploring the impacts of the union’ s enlargement.
Studies by the European Policies Research Centre show that previous enlargement exercises have given mixed results depending on the unique abilities of the individual countries that join the EU (Weise et al. , 2001). This can also vary with the programs initiated by the EU such as new regulations or policies. The main agenda of the EU is to shift from an economic grouping to a political one. The EU has shifted from being an economic entity where economic policies dominated to one where political policies have been included.
For instance, the union seeks to adapt common laws in the environment, rule of law immigration among others. The second agenda of the EU is to promote socio-economic growth of member countries through a stable economic climate under a single currency. The third agenda is the promotion of human rights and equality among members sates. The Treaty of Lisbon in 2009 bound members to uphold these human rights as recognized by the EU. The fourth agenda is the promotion of transparent democratic institutions at both the EU and national level.
The EU aspires to have its members as model countries on democratic and transparent institutions in government (EU, 2014).
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