Thursday, April 29, 2004

The Party’s over – before it’s begun

In the op-ed in The Times, Anatole Kaletsky reviews the enlargement issues. Making a refreshing change from the gushing rhetoric that we have already and are about to suffer, he paints a less than rosy picture. In this passage, he notes, for instance:

“In many of the new member countries, enlargement could produce an even deeper disillusionment with the EU, since most of the economic benefits of joining have already accrued, while the costs will start to be paid only next week.”

This is something most commentators have missed. Much of the fabled “structural funding” was paid out in advance, to sugar the pill of accession and the money is now spent. And, with the mean-spirited settlement on the CAP, where accession countries are paid only a quarter of the subsidies other member states receive, most of the new states will be net contributors to the Community budget.

Small wonder, Kaletsky concludes: “The ten new members could prove a disruptive presence in EU councils, demanding a say out of all proportion to their economic power and unyielding in their defence of national interests, as their sometimes unruly electorates perceive them. This enlargement will make the EU an even more argumentative body".

This does not auger well for the success of the IGC in June. The party may already be over.

To see the full article, click here.

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