Copenhagen, 3 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - A new booklet published by Denmark's Ministry of Economic Development presents Copenhagen's view on the European Union's eastern expansion.
According to the report, EU membership for Central and Eastern Europe will work in three general areas: security, for example, in preventive action and peace-keeping operations; political influence on EU decision-making; and the abolition of tariffs and taxes once membership has allowed access to the inner market.
In a way, the report argues, these three areas are interrelated and inseparable: no European country can be guaranteed security unless all others are secure, and democracy and free trade cannot prosper unless there is security. The report says this should be the driving force behind enlargement to the East now.
It must be emphasized, the report says, that it is up to the individual countries to decide just how much of the current EU recommendations they can or wish to implement. The report urges Eastern Europe to evaluate where it stands to benefit: if it guarantees competition, if it works toward lowering inflation, if it privatizes state enterprises and if it limits state influence over the economy as much as possible.
EU enlargement means benefits for both East and West, the report says, although common citizens in the West tend to associate enlargement solely with increased public spending. Experts say the opening of new markets in the East could mean more trade and production in the West, which will create both new economic possibilities and new work places in the West. The West, the Danish report acknowledges, cannot compete with the East when it comes to, for example, labor costs.
However, the report acknowledges that, should the EU enlarge in incremental steps instead of all at once, some Central and Eastern European countries will be left behind and may be exposed to the risk of social unrest as a direct result of the lack of economic progress EU membership spells.