Mixed opinions on enlargement and the European Neighbourhood Policy

Since the adop­tion of the Lis­bon Treaty, the coun­tries apply­ing for EU mem­ber­ship “can breathe again”, under­lines Libéra­tion.11Qua­tremer, J.: 2020, L’Union des 27?, Libéra­tion, 30/12/2009. The fur­ther enlarge­ment of the Euro­pean Union had been close­ly linked to the adop­tion of the Lis­bon Treaty: French Pres­i­dent Nico­las Sarkozy, when serv­ing as Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Coun­cil, had made it very clear that, in a Union that could not even agree on adopt­ing more func­tion­al insti­tu­tions, the acces­sion of addi­tion­al coun­tries could only make the sit­u­a­tion worse. The adop­tion of the treaty was there­fore a sine qua non con­di­tion for fur­ther enlargement.

Iceland and Croatia, 28th and 29th EU member states?

Two coun­tries are now expect­ed to join the Union dur­ing the upcom­ing years, Croa­t­ia and Ice­land. Some observers have been under­lin­ing Iceland’s oppor­tunism, argu­ing that the coun­try had been ignor­ing the Euro­pean Union for decades until the finan­cial cri­sis final­ly allowed it to see the ben­e­fits it could find in the EU.22Reuters: Les pays bas lient l’adhésion de l’Icelande au plan Ice­save, 06/03/2010. The fast adhe­sion process was, for a num­ber of ana­lysts, close­ly linked to the Ice­save dossier; the rejec­tion of the lat­ter by 93 per­cent of the Ice­landic pop­u­la­tion, in March 2010, led the same ana­lysts to believe that it could under­mine the country’s chances of a fast adhe­sion to the EU, and iso­late it on the inter­na­tion­al scene.[3. Cafeba­bel: L’Islande rejette l’Icesave” et risque l’isolement, 08/03/2010, avail­able at: www.cafebabel.fr (last access: 04/06/2010).As pre­vi­ous­ly men­tioned, Croa­t­ia is expect­ed to con­clude the nego­ti­a­tion process soon, and to be part of the EU by 2012, at the lat­est. Its adhe­sion is strong­ly sup­port­ed by the French gov­ern­ment, which under­lines the fact that it is impor­tant for the sta­bil­i­sa­tion of this part of Europe.

France has always been very sup­port­ive of the adhe­sion of the Balkan coun­tries to the EU. In Le Monde, co-signed with his Ital­ian homo­logue Fran­co Frat­ti­ni, For­eign Affairs Min­is­ter Bernard Kouch­n­er under­lined, once again, his sup­port for the adhe­sion of the Balkan coun­tries, which have voca­tion to join the EU, as soon as they meet all the require­ments.44Kouch­n­er, B.: Chaque Etat des Balka­ns a voca­tion a entr­er dans l’UE, Le Monde, 13/03/2010. But most ana­lysts are now stress­ing the fact that all fur­ther adhe­sion process­es are very like­ly to be delayed: the Euro­pean lead­ers now have “more urgent mat­ters to focus on”. The Greek cri­sis is also very like­ly to have a neg­a­tive impact, by mak­ing the adhe­sion cri­te­ria more demand­ing.55Rup­nik, J.: L’Union Européenne est un sub­sti­tute d’Empire vis a vis des Balka­ns, Le Monde, 10/05/2010.

Why keep refusing Turkey’s accession?

The ques­tion of Turkey’s acces­sion has always been very con­tro­ver­sial in France. French Pres­i­dent Nico­las Sarkozy stands firm­ly against it, and took advan­tage of the French Pres­i­den­cy of the Euro­pean Union to clear­ly reaf­firm his posi­tion. He now advo­cates a priv­i­leged part­ner­ship, link­ing the Euro­pean Union, Turkey and Rus­sia, which would rep­re­sent an alter­na­tive to its acces­sion.66Libéra­tion: Nico­las Sarkozy n’ignore plus la Turquie, 21/04/2010. Mean­while, for­mer French Pres­i­dent Jacques Chirac under­lined the “shared des­tiny” between the two coun­tries, and the neces­si­ty to devel­op the tight­est links pos­si­ble.77Chirac, J.: UE – Turquie: un Des­tin partage, AFP, 11/05/2010. “Why keep refus­ing this adhe­sion?” asks Bernard Guet­ta from left-wing dai­ly Libéra­tion, argu­ing that the lat­ter would rep­re­sent a good oppor­tu­ni­ty to prove to Mus­lim neigh­bour coun­tries that the EU and Islam are not incom­pat­i­ble, and actu­al­ly have a shared des­tiny. Accord­ing to the eco­nom­ics dai­ly Les Echos, “If Europe lacks the courage to pro­pose a long-term strate­gic vision, the Ori­en­tal temp­ta­tion will pre­vail and the coun­try which we do not want with us now will be against us in the future. At which point, Europe will have the Turkey it deserves”.88Moisi, D.: La Turquie de nos mérites, Les Echos, 11/01/2010.

European Neighbourhood Policy: the Union for the Mediterranean and the Eastern Partnership.

The Union for the Mediter­ranean (UfM) has enjoyed a lot of cov­er­age in France, being one of Nico­las Sarkozy main projects dur­ing the French Pres­i­den­cy. The media have been under­lin­ing how dif­fi­cult this project is, giv­en the inter­nal dis­agree­ments (a string of mines accord­ing to Le Figaro), and the lack of com­mit­ment of most heads of states;99Le Figaro: L’Union pour la Méditer­ranée, en mal de sou­tiens, 10/02/2010. under this con­text, the activism and deter­mi­na­tion of two coun­tries, France and Spain, is quite unan­i­mous­ly recog­nised, and con­trasts with the clear lack of polit­i­cal will from the South­ern coun­tries. Accord­ing to an ana­lyst, the Ara­bic coun­tries will not com­mit to the Union for the Mediter­ranean unless they see clear polit­i­cal and/or eco­nom­i­cal ben­e­fits, and this is far from being the case so far. The Social­ist MEP in charge of the par­lia­men­tary report on the UfM, Vin­cent Peil­lon, has a more opti­mistic point of view though; he con­sid­ers that the Union for the Mediter­ranean is actu­al­ly man­ag­ing to work effec­tive­ly towards peace build­ing in the region through con­crete projects and real­i­sa­tions. He nev­er­the­less argues that the Euro­pean Union needs to demon­strate its strong com­mit­ment by putting mon­ey on the table dur­ing the Barcelona Sum­mit that was to be held in June 2010.1010Peil­lon, V.: L’union pour la méditer­ranée est sor­tie des limbes, 19/10/2010, avail­able at: http://www.vincent-peillon.fr (last access: 04/06/2010). Final­ly, some observers crit­i­cise a cer­tain lack of over­all ambi­tion. Econ­o­mist Jean-Louis Guigou argues that, to be suc­cess­ful, the UfM can­not be the free trade zone pro­posed by José Manuel Bar­roso, but has to be a wider project includ­ing com­mon social and envi­ron­men­tal poli­cies.1111Guigou, J. L.: Pour un pro­tec­tion­nisme euro-méditer­ranéen, Les Echos, 20/04/2010.

The East­ern Part­ner­ship has received a lot less cov­er­age in France. It has been described as a mere copy of the Union for the Mediter­ranean.1212Holveck, F.: Vers un parte­nar­i­at priv­ilégié avec les six pays de l’ex-URSS, MCSin­fo, Uni­ver­sité Robert Schu­man, Stras­bourg, 12/03/2009. Some ana­lysts ques­tion the nov­el­ty of this part­ner­ship and the exis­tence of real advan­tages for the ben­e­fi­cia­ry coun­tries.1313Touteleu­rope: UE-Parte­nar­i­at ori­en­tal: quelle per­spec­tives?, 15/12/2009, avail­able at: www.touteleurope.fr (last access: 04/06/2010).

    Footnotes

  • 1Qua­tremer, J.: 2020, L’Union des 27?, Libéra­tion, 30/12/2009.
  • 2Reuters: Les pays bas lient l’adhésion de l’Icelande au plan Ice­save, 06/03/2010.
  • 4Kouch­n­er, B.: Chaque Etat des Balka­ns a voca­tion a entr­er dans l’UE, Le Monde, 13/03/2010.
  • 5Rup­nik, J.: L’Union Européenne est un sub­sti­tute d’Empire vis a vis des Balka­ns, Le Monde, 10/05/2010.
  • 6Libéra­tion: Nico­las Sarkozy n’ignore plus la Turquie, 21/04/2010.
  • 7Chirac, J.: UE – Turquie: un Des­tin partage, AFP, 11/05/2010.
  • 8Moisi, D.: La Turquie de nos mérites, Les Echos, 11/01/2010.
  • 9Le Figaro: L’Union pour la Méditer­ranée, en mal de sou­tiens, 10/02/2010.
  • 10Peil­lon, V.: L’union pour la méditer­ranée est sor­tie des limbes, 19/10/2010, avail­able at: http://www.vincent-peillon.fr (last access: 04/06/2010).
  • 11Guigou, J. L.: Pour un pro­tec­tion­nisme euro-méditer­ranéen, Les Echos, 20/04/2010.
  • 12Holveck, F.: Vers un parte­nar­i­at priv­ilégié avec les six pays de l’ex-URSS, MCSin­fo, Uni­ver­sité Robert Schu­man, Stras­bourg, 12/03/2009.
  • 13Touteleu­rope: UE-Parte­nar­i­at ori­en­tal: quelle per­spec­tives?, 15/12/2009, avail­able at: www.touteleurope.fr (last access: 04/06/2010).

The reports focus on a report­ing peri­od from Decem­ber 2009 until May 2010. This sur­vey was con­duct­ed on the basis of a ques­tion­naire that has been elab­o­rat­ed in March and April 2010. Most of the 31 reports were deliv­ered in May 2010.

The EU-27 Watch No. 9 receives sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from the Otto Wolff-Foun­da­tion, Cologne, in the frame­work of the ‘Dia­log Europa der Otto Wolff-Stiftung’, and finan­cial sup­port from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is not respon­si­ble for any use that may be made of the infor­ma­tion con­tained therein.