The enlarged European Commission

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Series Details No.11, February 2005
Publication Date February 2005
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It cannot be overstated: the enlargement that took place in May 2004 was a key step in the European Project. Not only because it resulted in a near-complete reunification of the European sub-continent, but also because it has brought significant changes to the Union's processes and its goals. Unlike the enlargements that came before, this one cannot be regarded as a simple, routine operation. The differences - be they economic, social or political - between the old and new Member States are considerable. The number of newcomers, and the fact that some of those were small countries, has meant that the mechanical adjustments that it was possible to carry out during previous enlargements were this time inadequate.

This is certainly not a new problem: it featured in the first round of institutional discussions following the failed reform attempts in Amsterdam, and were the focus of a great deal of attention when the draft constitution was being drawn up. Until now, however, it has only been approached in a rather dry fashion; how many Members should the Commission comprise, the distribution of Council votes, seats in Parliament, and so forth. Indeed, the dynamic implications of enlargement have barely been discussed, either in terms of the internal functioning of each institution or of the relationship that might transpire between them. Whilst the question is an important one for each of the institutions, it has a particular resonance for the Commission, firstly due to its role as the driving force in the Community system, and secondly because, unlike the other institutions, the Commission's working methods, and in particular the collegiality principle, might be jeopardised by a badly handled enlargement process.

Notre Europe therefore asked Professor John Peterson, who has written

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