Friday, July 01, 2005

Full Retreat - or?

World News Article |

People are now running all over the place in the increasingly confused discussion about the future of the enlargement of the European Union. Political leadership is distinctly lacking, and populism seems to be the order of the day.

Possible post-2007 President of France Nicolas Sarkozy has now called for further enlargement - after Romania and Bulgaria - to be "suspended".

It's obvious that he is playing to the opinion sceptical about the wisdom of allowing Turkey to become a member.

But it's also worth noting that what he's saying also contains openings for the future. "We have to suspend enlargement at least until the institutions have been modernised".

Well, that entails somewhat of a commitment to modernize the institutions, which means taking up some of the aspects of the now virtually dead Constitutional Treaty. Until 2009, we will live with the Nice Treaty provisions anyhow.

And enlargement beyond Romania and Bulgaria is anyhow not going to be an imminent affair. With the possible exception of Croatia, we are talking about the period well beyond 2010, possible with 2014 or 2015 as the earliest possible dates for additional members.

With new political leaderships in place in key capitals there should be the possibility of first modernizing the institutions and then proceeding with admitting new members.

But imperative is that the process - irrespectively of the pace - moves on. It is the light by which the reform processes in these important parts of Europe navigate. We have a duty to keep that light burning.

If Mr Sarkozy is to be taken by his words, he might not be beyond hope on these issues.