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European Union Expansion Essay, Research Paper

Since the creation of the European Union its purpose has been to unite the European continent into one cohesive organization. In order for this goal to be fully realized all European nations must be included under this conglomeration of states. Unfortunately the process is not quite so simple. It takes years of careful evaluation of numerous factors most importantly including economic status, respect for international law and basic human rights, and military status amongst other numerous yet equally important facts. Before a state can be admitted it must first be determined that by admitting the state that it will have a generally good affect on the community as a whole and not simply benefit any single nation. Political orientation also plays a large role in deciding whether or not to accept a nation, since the organization was partially founded on the idea of self determination . After taking into consideration all these facts it is easy to see why it takes so long to approve a state for membership within the EU. Any hastily made decisions could quite easily have long lasting socio-economic impacts on other members of the union and make them weary to admit new members. Now with the 2002 deadline to convert all funds to one European currency (the eurodollar), it is seen as being more important than ever before to be 100% sure of a nations stability. Another question before the committee is whether or not a given nation will be able to perform the duties, which it is required to under the European Union.

The EU has shown through numerous meetings and treaties that in order to most efficiently integrate all European nations into one European community that the tasks for applicant nations be made clear from the start of negotiations. That is why the Copenhagen European Council defined the criteria, which applicants would have to meet before they could join the Community. These criteria concern, the stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities (political criterion); the existence of a functioning market economy as well as the capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the European Union (economic criterion); the ability to take on the obligations of membership including adherence to the aims of political, economic and monetary union (criterion concerning adoption of the Community acquis). By dividing the criteria into three separate areas it makes it much easier for applicant nations to better allocate resources in order to hasten their progress through the accession process. In order to help European nations achieve acceptance in these three key areas the EU developed a strategy under the same agreement, which would help aid in these three areas. This plan used and encompassed the, the Europe Agreements (or Association Agreements);

The White Paper of May 1995 defining key measures in each sector of the internal market and priorities in the harmonization of legislation; a structured institutional dialogue; the PHARE programme which is the pivotal financial instrument in the pre-accession strategies. The white papers were key instruments in helping countries cope with such drastic economic change. In these papers they gave a timeline, which a country was to follow, and along that timeline was established a regular meeting with officials from PHARE and other organizations headed by the EU. Agenda 2000 established a financial framework for supporting the pre-accession process in the applicant countries. 21 billion will be provided in pre-accession aid to the Central and Eastern European countries for the period 2000-2006. This aid will be distributed in three different forms in order to better support nations beginning the transitional phase. These three forms are to include the Phare programme. 10.5 billion (EUR 1.5 billion a year). Since 1997 this has focused on the two main priorities for adoption of the Community acquis; institution building in the applicant countries (30% of the budget) and investment financing (70%) in areas where post-accession transitional periods are to be avoided as far as possible. Secondly aid for agricultural development totaling EUR 3.5 billion (EUR 500 million a year); structural aid amounting to EUR 7 billion (EUR 1 billion a year) to be used primarily to help applicant countries comply with Community infrastructure standards in the transport and environmental sectors. It will also be used to familiarize these countries with structural project procedures. A substantial portion of the EU s budget is directed towards the integration process and it is easy to see why so much time and effort is necessary in order to accomplish such a great task. Agenda 2000 went even further by attempting to create a lasting dialogue between accession applicants and the EU. In this agreement it established bilateral negotiations and a time frame within which they were to occur. The negotiations are taking place in six bilateral Intergovernmental Conferences with six-monthly ministerial meetings and monthly ambassadorial meetings. But most importantly the EU stresses the importance of establishing a country by country basis on which admittance to the EU is granted. For example a special program was established for Cyprus. This pre accession strategy was based on:

-Its participation in certain targeted projects, primarily in institution building and justice and home affairs;

-Its participation in a number of programmes and Community agencies (following the approach for other applicant countries);

-Use of technical assistance provided by TAIEX (Technical Assistance Information Exchange Office).

The EU realized that not all countries were going to be able to reform as quickly and according to this they made special exceptions on a case-to-case basis.

In the end it all comes down to the ability of a nation to comply with the mandates given by the EU in order to become a member. The Netherlands in 1997 helped to frame the guidelines for acceptance of Cyprus. Rather than lump them all into one large group it has been the opinion of the Netherlands that nations need to be recognized and classified upon their individual merits rather than be compared with other nations whose situation may call for a different kind of aid or social reform. More recently the importance of bridging the technological barriers has been addressed. The Netherlands feels that it is imperative to fully implement the TAIEX in all applicant nations in order to help lessen the large technological barrier between all members of the EU. It is a necessity for all nations to possess the same technology in order to avoid difficulties of transfers of, finances, aid, technologies, and every form of trade. The EU started as a trade organization and this original goal should not be lost. All protective tariffs and taxes need to be eliminated in order to create a true free market in which all nations can trade on an equal basis. It is also important to keep the international community updated on the admittance process in order to prevent harming relations with other nations, namely the Russian federation.

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