Where does Europe End? – The future challenges of EU Enlargement.

Where does Europe End, is one of the often asked questions when talking about the enlargement of the European Union.  With the current negotiations with Turkey progressing (albeit slowly) the next challenge will be where next? Will the accession of Turkey see Syria (Middle East) or Armenia (Western Asia) applying for membership?

That is of course dependent on Turkey being integrated into the EU’s structures as that itself will involve reform of the institutions. Turkey if its joins will be the second largest EU member state in terms of population, second only to that of Germany. This will mean that voting weights and seats in the European Parliament will have to be moved around to satisfy the older member states. The accession, or possible accession of, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Iceland, Albania, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, do not present the same challenges to the EU institutions and can easily be absorbed into the institutions, though maybe not all at once.

But after Turkey will the EU expand beyond the Balkans? Will the Ukraine or Belarus (both with large populations) apply to join? Belarus may be a long way off, but Ukraine may apply before negotiations with Turkey finish. Will the Europe Union start looking beyond Europe for members? Will Morocco reapply? Could Cape Verde, due to its close ties to the EU and proximity to the Canary Islands, apply?

These are the challenges that face the EU after it deals with the issue of Turkish accession. That is dependent of course on there being an appetite for the further expansion of the European Union. Older Member States seem reluctant to expand the EU further. Opposition to Turkish accession seems to be strongest in the likes of Germany and France. There is a quasi racism to this opposition, but also there is a weariness of expansion. This is evidenced by the fears of the “Plombier polonaise”, Polish Plumber, in France after the accession of Poland and the other Central and Eastern European States in 2004.

Beyond France the limits on the immigration of workers from Bulgaria and Romania after accession in most EU member states shows the unwillingness of member states to completely open up to new members of the union.  This shows the reluctance of member states to fully open up to new members. This in the future translate could translate to the end of enlargement of the European Union after the accession of the current candidate states.

The accession of more states from Eastern Europe and the Balkans will mean a further move of power away from Western Europe. Upon the accession of the Balkans, they will be a formidable Eastern European bloc within the EU. This will again see more changes being made to the institutions of the EU. Again the interplay here with Turkey on its accession with other member states and would it be more Eastern or Western in its outlook is what has most political leaders worried.

Another issue at stake is the feelings of ordinary European Citizens. While citizens of applicant states get a say in whether or not a country joins the EU, normally through referenda,  the citizens of countries already members have no say. There is growing resentment to this situation and this in turn fuels far rights groups as they promise referenda on future EU enlargement, often though this has been offered by not so far right groups in ordinary to entice voters back!

EU enlargement is turning into a minefield and the EU, member states and applicant states must be cautious on how they approach it.

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Morning Briefing, 5th March

Good Morning,I hope no one is suffering from ill effects of superstitions linked to lunar eclipses!!! (or still suffering from hangovers from the Irish Blog Awards or whatever they got up to at the weekend!!)

An Nuachtr ar an maidin seo!

Fine Gael are to introduce a bill into the Dáil this week to outlaw the sexual “grooming” of children on the Internet. (Breakingnews) This is well overdue having been on the order paper since 2004!

A new poll out today shows 68% of those surveyed would support a ban on hare coursing with 72% agreeing its a cruel practice (RTÉ). I am against hunting in Ireland, and actually spoke against it at my very first YFG Conference way back when.

A leading psychiatrist, Professor Patricia Casey, has branded Irish psychiatric services a ‘third world country’ (Irish Examiner). From my own experiences shes right. I have a appointment on Thursday in the CUH, and I will be waiting a long time to be seen!

The Cherokee Nation has voted out descendants of freed slaves from the Tribe. (CNN) This has led to accusations of racism. Well in my opinion, its not exactly fair like!

That’s all for now!

Slán!

Northern Ireland, the "hate capital of the West"

Via Gay.com

Northern Ireland is “ the hate capital of the West”, according to new university research, with an astonishing 44% of its citizens proving disturbingly homophobic.

The research from University of Ulster, to be published in economics journal Kyklos, said that Northern Ireland matches Greece in their significant animosity toward gays and immigrants.

Vani Borooah, Professor of Applied Economics of University of Ulster and John Mangan, Professor of Economics at the University of Queensland collaborated in the study, which surveyed 32,000 people across 19 European counties, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA.

The Human Rights and Values survey asked respondents what they thought of minority groups – and how they would feel about having members of certain groups as their neighbors.

The five groups included members of another races, immigrants or foreign workers, Muslims, Jews, and homosexuals.

An astonishing 44% of the 1,000 respondents of Northern Ireland said they didn’t want even one of the five groups as their neighbors.

Bigotry proportion of Northern Ireland was followed closely by Greece with 43%.

The lowest proportion occured in Sweden with 13%.

Homophobia was by far the main source of bigotry in most western countries: over 80% of bigoted people in Northern Ireland and Canada, and 75% of bigots in Austria, the USA, Great Britain, Ireland and Italy wouldn’t want gays or lesbians as neighbours.

In Scandinavian countries the main target of hostility turned toward Muslims.

74% of bigoted Danes, 68% of bigoted Swedes and 63% of bigoted Icelanders did not want Muslims as neighbours.

The study also came up with the following conclusions.

– Women are less likely to be bigoted than men.

– Some evidence that financial dissatisfaction might also be a source of bigotry.

– Students were less likely to be bigots than non-students.

Click here to see the full research report.

Morning Briefing, 18th January

Good morning (Im too tired to think as gaeilge let alone type it!)

The news this morning!

Shilpa has spoken out about being the victim of racism on Celeb Big Brother (BBC). I think racism is an abhorrent disease in todays society and the likes of Jade Goody should be treated with distain for their carry on!

Senators, both Republican and Democratic parties, have opposed the increase of US troops in Iraq (BBC)

Heres an article on my previous post (Entertainment Weekly)

Labour seam to love confusing the electorate and the media! (Breakingnews)

The European Parliament have elected the former leader of the EPP-ED grouping, Hans-Gert Poettering, as President of the Parliament (Al Jazeera)