Medjunarodni problemi 2003 Volume 55, Issue 1, Pages: 7-24
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The enlargement of the European Union and the challenges of the reform
The successful conclusion of accession negotiations at the Copenhagen summit on December 13th 2002 means that ten countries will join the European Union in its biggest-ever enlargement. After eastward enlargement, the EU will contain 25 members and nearly half a billion people. The accession treaty will be signed at a special EU summit in Athens on April 16th, 2003. After that, the candidates and member-states will have about a year to ratify the treaty and to joint EU as planned on May 1st, 2004. This enlargement is quite an extraordinary challenge for all the parties involved. For the European Union, it is maybe the most ambitious endeavour in the whole history. The accession of ten new members makes it essential for the EU to reform its institutions, decision-making processes, as well as its policies for agriculture and regional aid. Meanwhile the successive challenge to European Common Foreign and Security Policy have highlighted its weaknesses. Newly formed Convention on the future of Europe is struggling with many fundamental questions and proposed a new constitutional treaty, which described the new European identity. The Convention makes several proposals to reshape Europe's institutions, according to several basic principles: the institution should become more effective - meaning that they have to be able to take decisions more speedily; EU institution tend to be cut off form national political systems and the national parliaments scold therefore become involved in the institutional workings of the EU; it is important to preserve the balance between the institutions dominated governments and the "Community" institutions; the structures of the institutions should be simplified. With just five months before the conclusion of the proceedings, and in parallel to the difficult exercise of drafting the new Constitutional treaty, a major effort is necessary to ensure that the various alternatives are explored, and that a final package can be agreed by a considerable majority of the member states.