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Mr. Itälä's EU expansion Mr. Itälä's EU expansion
by Thanos Kalamidas
2006-11-01 09:59:15
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In a televised interview, the Finnish Euro-MP, Ville Itälä made a very interesting comment that somehow reflects the skepticism of the last four years in Europe. He said that the EU has been far too forgiving of would-be EU members who don’t live up to their commitments.

The result of that is more than obvious and the cost has been already paid by nearly all the European member states, including the new ones. Already the British government announcement that the entrance of Romania and Bulgaria means yes, but…but there must be control over the work searchers from these two countries and there must be a better control for future candidates, announcing penalties for the arrested Bulgarians and Romanians that will arrive in Britain searching for work. More countries will definitely follow the British example, so we will eventually have a two speed EU, something the founding countries tried to avoid from the beginning.

This decision already discredits the very essence of the European community. When the EU started as an economic union, the freedom of a worker of a member state to work in any other member country was basic. But Europe had to face a lot of problems with the entrance of the new ten. The decision was definitely political and often led with the argument of a new market of nearly hundred million.

These 100 million certainly entered the EU market, but they didn’t have the financial support and background to excuse the argument. For some of them, perhaps another ten years as a candidate state, would have made them even better. Half of them still haven’t met the criteria and there are already some reactions from their citizens, since the Promised Land never came.

The truth is that Europe will need at least five to ten years to recover from this last expansion and note that it is not only for ten countries but for twelve. The difference of only two years between the first ten and Romania and Bulgaria joining doesn’t make much difference. So what about another eighty million? What about a candidate country that from definition has managed to cross the line of the criteria?

Mr. Ville Itäla is a member of the conservative party in Finland, but that doesn’t mean anything since the Finnish conservative party (Kokoomus), alike their Europeans counterparts, haven’t shown signs of xenophobia, surprisingly in the national elections they even have foreign candidates. However, Mr. Itälä was a presidential candidate in Finland showing a really liberal face, so when somebody with his reputation says something like that, it carries a special weight and represents the opinion of a large amount of voters inside Finland.

Finland is one of the countries that often enjoy headlines in the European media as the model country in Europe. Finland didn’t come to this place overnight, but after a lot of difficulties during the period when the word 'criteria' had a lot meaning and every single new member had to harmonize everything with the member countries. The natural question now is: What has changed?

Has Europe lost faith in the dream of a Europe of equal members? Has Europe started putting its petty politics in front of its own political values? Furthermore, if the last twelve countries that joined the EU proved not ready, what makes the EU think that a country that, by definition, has no chance to meet the criteria can join now?

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