Should The European Union get any bigger? How big should it be?

The European Union is a group of 27 countries with a population approaching half a billion people. It has (or had) the world’s largest economy, overtaking the United States in 2007. There has been some turmoil in recent years as the EU Constitution was rejected by voters in France and The Netherlands and latterly the Lisbon Treaty was rejected by Irish voters in 2008. The EU’s last expansion took place in 2007 with Bulgaria and Romania joining. Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey are the most likely proposed future members although the accession of Turkey is seen as hugely problematic in certain member states because of its huge population, level of development and the religious makeup of the populace. So should the EU expand and how big should it become? If Turkey becomes a member state, why not Israel? How about Morocco, Tunisia, Russia et al?

One problem there is that it really can’t do what it was supposed to do. It’s economy is just a bunch of nations stuck together, and that’s not really very useful. It hasn’t really helped anyone much. (The EEC accomplished everything there, but that’s had its own repercussions amng the public). The bureaucracy in Brussels has little power but abuses it severely, usually without even speaking to anyone (and in any case, they probably couldn’t deal with the lingual proliferation easily) or understanding the issues.

Mostly though, there isn’t really a “European” sentiment, nor is it clear that there should be. Bigger isn’t better. It’s just bigger. They were doing fine not killing each other, at least as long as the US has military bases around.

IMHO, they ought to go back to the EEC. It was easier to sell the economic program when that was it.

Are we starting to see any problems arising yet from it being too large? So far, it seems like it’s been a net benefit for all of its member countries, so if Turkey or Russia or Morocco can get their acts together enough to join, why shouldn’t they?

Personally, I think that the EU represents a great trend, of unification of countries through recognized common interests rather than through war, and I’d love to see that trend continue.

Not neccessarily. The benefits have primarily been from the economic opening. The problem is that it wasn’t well considered and there’s a lot of difference between the markets.

In North America, we haven’t had a significant war since, well, a long time. If countries have common interests, then there’s no war. But the unification is of no good intrinsically.

As a German, I think the EU is definitely a good thing and has already reached what it set out to do - help member countries economically and especially keep the peace.

It’s been a long time since there were 60 years of peace in Europe, and even more important war is now more unlikely than ever.

Even the economic stuff like the common currency has definitely that effect, tying the national economies together and making traveling much easier; I think the younger generations really do have a different view of Europe than the older ones, judging from the students from all over Europe that I’ve met.
As for the future, now there’s a point where the member states really do have to delegate authority if we want to keep moving closer together, and that’s of course a slow process. But I’m confident that the time will come, with direct elections the notorious bureaucracy will hopefully improve as well.
Regarding new members, Turkey is problematic for reasons already outlined, and to join they will have to reform policy towards the Kurds and Cyprus at least. I doubt they will be able to join sooner than 10-20 years.

In about the same timeframe the rest of the Balkan states will join, I think, even if there’s still work to do there.

Ukraine and perhaps Belarus will join eventually, I think, but Russia probably never will.

Iceland, Norway and Switzerland will of course be able to join if they want to, especially for Iceland I can see it happening.

It’s never really been clear to me what the EU is for. The trade area thing is great, freedom of movement very nice… and peace in Europe is not to be sniffed at I suppose, but I can’t see that we’re any more likely to have a war with non-EU countries like Norway or Switzerland than we are with Spain. The lasting peace is more down to the establishment of strong democracies throughout western Europe since WWII. Prosperous democratic countries rarely go to war, especially not with each other.

As the EU and the Euro were created I have seen a few Americans show their insecurities in the form of predictions that it was all doomed to failure, that the EU would disintegrate, that the Euro would sink like a stone, etc.

What was it “supposed to do” according to you that it cannot do? Because the way I see it it has been very successful in doing what it was “supposed to do”.

What is that even supposed to mean? Its economy is bigger than that of the USA.

You really haven’t a clue. Spain is what it is today thanks to the EU. And other countries can say the same. Every country in the EU has benefitted from being part of it. And there is a long waiting list of countries who want to join. I don’t see any who say they made a mistake and want to leave.

WTF are you talking about? They have little power but abuse it? You really haven’t a clue.

Thank you for your advice and concern but we’re doing just fine on our own. And I am not sure we’d want to take advice from a country which has made so many and so big blunders lately.

No, it’s just a mess.

Actually, the proponents of the EU seemed to have in mind force-shoving everything into one top-heavy state. Which failed, and which they wanted in order to dictate to America as they viewed America as dictating to them.

A fact which is not very relevant. You could also get a similar result by shoving all of Asia into one box, too.

They want the financial advantages, certainly. But they also see that with every new country, the centralization grows weaker. I’d just skip the centralization and the government aspects completely.

If you have something to say other than blindly insulting me, please do so.

Give that you are, if anything, making worse ones, perhaps you shoudl listen.

Of course, your wording there is part of the problem. You see me as “American”. I’m just another American, a part of the collective. I’m not a person to engage or speak to.

No it is not a mess. You wish it were so.

You are making that up. Or can you support that with some evidence?

Nah. You are just fantasizing.

It is not very relevant except for the insecurities of some Americans who feel threatened by the Euro and the EU gaining weight in the world and therefore displacing America somewhat.

If you have anything to say which is not purely made up BS please say so.

Europe has been making worse decisions lately? Like what exactly? Worse than Iraq? Guantanamo? The economy? I cannot think of anything where Europe has done worse than America in the last 8 years. Of course, that is not saying much.

Most Europeans would not want to be like America at all. We like our socialistic health care and other such oppressive things.

No, I am talking to you specifically and addressing the nonsense you make up.

Turkey shouldn’t in. It isn’t European. Morocco, Tunisia and Israel can’t because they aren’t European nations (Morocco actually asked sometime back, but was turned down because it isn’t European). Serbia, Croatia, & the rest of the Balkan states should be admitted eventually, as well as Ukraine – how can you have a European Union without the largest country wholly within Europe, is a member? And I’d like Russia too, if they want – certainly it’s more European, culturally, historically and even geographically, than Turkey. Time has run out for individual European nations wielding serious international power. If Europe wants to be a serious player on the world stage on par with the USA, China, India, there’s no getting around throwing in their lot together.

Iceland may well be the next country getting in. The Faeroe Islands and Greenland are looking for closer cooperation too - although it will be a special relationship, since they are part of Denmark.

Why should that matter, in particular?

Well it would be rather silly to have a European Union with Mongolia and South Africa and Chile members.

How different is the EU from the 19th century concert of Europe (which non-Euro Turks were a part of) besides the fact it is more formalised?

The EU, and before it the EEC (yes I know its part of the EU still) and ECSC and Euratom reversed the effects of WWI and WWII on the European Order. Pre-1914 there was as much if not more Euro cooperation economically at least, the German Battlecruisers who mauled Admiral Beatty at Jutland were even equipped with turbines made in Glasgow.

Why not, if it makes good economic sense? Surely the name isn’t that important?

It’s as much in Europe as Russia is.

The main problem with Turkey is the dispute over Cyprus. You can’t have two EU states that are effectively at war with each other (Greece and Turkey). The whole endeavour is difficult enough without introducing a cold war into the equation.

I don’t see their religion being a problem. As long as they are willing to obey EU rules, it doesn’t matter what religion they are. The EU isn’t religiously based (even if all the countries are christian).

What makes Cyprus a valid part of Europe but not Turkey?

I find the notion that the word European should define who gets in utterly silly. Silly beyond belief.

Personally I think Turkey should not be admitted for the time being because the last thing Europe needs is a member who has a poor human rights record and problems that could result in wars like with the Kurds inside Turkey and with Iraq. Europe does not need to get involved in that mess.

The EU has moved beyond being merely an economic union. It exists to further European interests – not the interests of North America, Africa or the Middle East. Istanbul and the western parts of Turkey could perhaps be considered European with some good will, but the murky central and eastern parts are as much a part as Europe as is Iraq. And I notice with interests that Turkey seems to be siding with OIC and against the whole rest of Europe, in regard to Durban II and freedom of speech in matters of religion. I used to be for Turkey in the EU, but the Muhammed cartoon crisis changed that - but personally I’m still open to argument with regard to Turkey, and it is not Islam in itself that is the problem, since there are other countries – Albania, Bosnia – which are clearly within Europe and should be member states eventually. Kosovo is an American colony. It can become the 51st state.

Cyprus is no more a problem than border disputes between Croatia and Slovenia, name disputes between Greece and Fyrom, and etc. Despite what the rules say about unanimity, you can’t have a single small nation block the wholes rest of the EU. The Greeks will be thrown some token bone and bullied into line.

I personally think the era of big leaps towards more integration, that is on more issues (deepening), is coem to an end - or at least a stand still. There are just too many members to have everyone in a position to transfer competencies to the EU. There will always be some country that is in a domestic political situation, either because of who is governing or other circumstances, that will make them reject a treaty. This problem is even more appearent if you look at the countries that use referenda, and are thus dependent on the fickle man on the steet*. This is also something that can’t be remedied as some countries have require referenda by constitution (Ireland and practically I guess also Denmark**).

Broadening, more members, however can be possible to some extent. I think that there will be little problem in getting the rich western nations, that thusfar have opted out, like Switserland, Iceland and Norway approved by all members. Not so much for the other nations I’m afraid. Since all members need to agree before a country can join, I can’t see it happening because of the reason mentioned aboev (too many countries). I don’t think we will see a time when there is no anti-turkish sentiment in any of the 27 memberstates and for the eastern European countries to accept Russia as a member we will need decades (if not more). There might be some small countries that can slip through the cracks, but I think some of the experiences with Poland, Bulgaria and Romania might cause some problems here as well.

Reading some of the posts above, I do want to emphasize that the process of european integration has been a great succes. The fact that Germany and France have been working together instead of fighting wars for more than 50 years is quite astonishing given their history. Also, the economic benefits have been large (all have become better of) although it is hard to quantify them (which also makes it difficult to show the public what the EU has done for us). The claim that the is (or that people want it to be) a top heavy state does not correspond with the facts. First of all the EU isn’t a state and won’t be for a long time (if ever) and one of the guiding priciples of the EU is the Supsidiarity principle that states that decisions should be taken the lowest possible level; that is the level of government that is closest to t people.
*I am not trying to insult the public, but referendums on EU treaties are just nonsense. While I don’t like referendums in principle, EU treaties are the worst possible issue to have referendums about. These documents are long, bureaucratic and require a large understanding of the status quo. I actually studied the Constitution before it was voted down in a class on EU politics and even we (University students, required to study the document and history of the EU in depth) found it impossible to really say what was new and what effects it would have on the functioning of the EU. One cannot expect citizens to get a grasp of what the treaty is actually about; making it a prey for party politics and spin doctors. If you have a referendum it should be about something simple: do we want a playground on the square or should we build a theatre; not on a monster of a document like this.

** I believe ratification in denmark requires 80% of parliament, and if they don’t get that, they need a referendum. I am no expert on Denmark, so if I’m wrong feel free to correct me :slight_smile:

Yes God forbid that fundamental national changes should hinge on anything so fickle as the common voting man. We need more experts to tell us what is best!

But the problem with the Constitution was/is exactly that it was ridiculous obtuse and over bloated. It is absurd to think that we should have a constitution that only a vanishing minority knows the first thing about, let alone understand and which is practically unreadable. A constitution should be short and to the point. And if it could be a bit poetic that would be great too. The American constitution seems to be a good starting point. 4.400 words. Good enough that it can be assumed than 90%+ of the population can understand it. The current EU proposal deserves nothing but scorn.

Denmark requires referendum if signing the constitution requires amendments to the Danish constitution. This is about the treaties which hands over a part of Danish sovereignty to the EU. There is some bickering about weather that goes for Lisbon, but fortunately we have had a tradition since the mid 80s, that all treaties are put to a referendum and no political party would survive breaking that tradition. Power to the fickle man.