Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The future of Europe (again)

As Serbia accepts Montenegrin independence, and the EU makes encouraging noises, is it true, as an interesting OpenDemocracy article has it, that "in much of east-central Europe, the European Union tends to be seen as an updated version of an earlier communist utopia ("From each according to their ability, to each according to their need"), but – for better or worse – the carrot of European integration is the best hope anyone has for long-term stability in Europe's troubled deep south"?

Certainly the potential for EU membership has helped inspire Turkey to push forward with liberalisation, and has been cited as a positive force in countries throughout the former Soviet bloc (irritating Russia no end), but how long will it take to get our eastern neighbours up to an acceptable standard - both economically and socially?

Can the promise of future EU membership overcome the highly localised identies - not usually national, more based on clan systems, language, religion, ethnicity and myriad other differences - that seem endemic throughout the eastern half of the continent (including the tiny Montenegro)?

Having already failed to prepare existing EU members, institutions and procedures for the 10 new member states that joined two years ago (the ongoing constitutional dilemma), as well as an internal rethink, should the EU also look again at its apparent policy of hinting that membership is possible for anyone, or is the ideal just as important as the reality? Would it even be possible to come up with a coherent EU enlargement policy with such diverse countries - and would it even be sensible?

Either way, something needs to be done.

3 Comments:

Blogger Ben said...

This kind of investment in the economic wellbeing of neighbouring countries should be seen as just that, investment not charity. It is no one's interest to leave the weaker economies in central and eastern europe to their own devices, and therefore the attention and influence of Russia again, as they will take immeasurably longer to build up their economies and therefore stabilise their political and social apparatus. The US were rightly condemned for their inter-war isolationism, learned the lesson after the 2nd WW and we are all, now more than ever, feeling the benefit of their investment in western europe. Any money invested now through the EU will benefit Britain and British trade for years to come. Saying that, it's the only thing I see the EU actually doing that benefits anyone not on the gravy train...

5/25/2006 01:57:00 pm  
Blogger Vaporizer said...

Europe money has been killing the US dollars.


By vaporizer

6/06/2006 08:34:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On 26th September 2006 the European Commission is more than likely to recommend to the EU member states that the green light be given to the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU in 2007. This is one year earlier than originally envisioned. One would assume that the reasons behind this change of date was as a result of the two countries’ exemplary progress in meeting the conditions required of them for EU entry. However, accession of the two countries could be contingent on their exclusion from certain EU policies. Why? Primarily as a result of their seeming inability, or indeed unwillingness, to crack down on organized crime and corruption as stated by Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn last week. With the fight against organized crime constituting a top priority for the EU’s current member states, demonstrated in the creation of Britain’s Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) in April of this year, why then, has this state of affairs in Bulgaria and Romania not more firmly hindered their entry? Do the scourges of drug, arms, and human trafficking, amongst a myriad other activities of organized crime, no longer constitute a threat worthy of firm action? What kind of message is the EU giving to those mafia bosses eagerly waiting at its wings?
Even Bulgaria and Romania’s exclusion from the EU’s common border policy, as has been suggested to safe-guard against the threat, will obviously not serve to hinder the operations of already sophisticated criminal organizations.
So how bad is the situation in Romania and Bulgaria? To what extent are the top echelons of political and commercial spheres in these countries intertwined with organized crime and corruption? The answer to this question is hardly difficult to find. The best, and worst, example is that of Michael Cherney (Chernoy), one of the world’s most notorious Russian gangsters, and who has extensive links to both Bulgarian and Romanian enterprises. That such a man (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/mikhail_chernoy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/michael_cherney ) is permitted to operate with such impunity in these countries is a frightening prospect for already wary EU citizens.
While Cherney’s activities in Bulgaria have been largely covered (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/mikhail_chernoy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/michael_cherney ), less well known is his shiny new Romanian asset, a little matter of RAFO, one of the country’s largest oil refineries. After an unsuccessful attempt to purchase RAFO in 2005, Cherney is now its proud owner with the apparent acquiescence of the country’s political elite. In a time of heightened energy insecurity in Europe, do we really want strategic oil assets such as RAFO in the hands of men like Cherney? Does the EU really want to include amongst its ranks governments that are willing to do business with well known mafia figures?
The frantic and myopic enlargement of the EU has once again fallen short of rational thought and has serious consequences for all of us. At what point will the British government insist that standards be met and put an end to this nightmare?

9/07/2006 09:54:00 am  

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