EASTWARD EXPANSION OF THE EU

A report on the effects of EU expansion eastwards on Portugal has been published in Lisbon. The conclusion is that Hungary is the only country ready for early membership to the exclusive club.

The report, named “Enlargement of the European Union towards Central and Eastern Europe – Consequences for Portugal”, under the authorship of Professor Daniel Bessa, concludes that although Hungary is the only country in this area with the capacity to join the EU immediately, Poland will have to join at the same time because Germany will insist upon it, even if this country is not properly prepared.

It is also claimed that “political criteria are becoming more important than economic ones”. For this reason, the Republic of Slovakia should be excluded from the first wave of adhesions, which is expected to take place in 2005. Slovakia would thus have to wait for the second wave, along with Romania and Bulgaria, with monthly incomes of 125 and 110 USD, respectively.

The twelve new Member States (Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Slovenia, Malta, Cyprus, and Bulgaria) will increase the population of the EU of 15 by 28%, however the GDP will increase by only 9%, proving the chasm between the two blocks in terms of economic development.

The study concludes by stating that the determining factor for the new member states will be how foreign investment is used in the implementation of a dynamic exportation policy, principally to the EU countries nearest to their borders, namely Germany and Italy.

These countries are also well aware of the negative effects of joining. Membership of any club has its benefits...and its costs. The more exclusive the club, the higher the fees.

Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru LISBON PORTUGAL

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