The governance of the EU: Facing the challenge of enlargement

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Publication Date 2002
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This paper argues that the debate about the 'future of Europe' has been overly preoccupied with the present EU - rather than the new challenges that enlargement will soon bring. The mentality at European Councils is predominantly one of a regional organisation whose primary concern is finding internal agreement. It needs to concentrate more on deciding common positions that are optimal for relations with its neighbours and potential partners. Institutional debates are still about internal compromises and domestic concerns, with little regard to the implications for the wider Europe.

Yet the EU is becoming a more effective foreign policy actor, and its internal structure and policies are starting to affect neighbouring countries, regardless of when they might join. It is a major - if often unwitting - shaper of its regional milieu, because non-members increasingly look to it for policy models and institutional templates. It has become a 'voluntary empire', as Robert Cooper calls it. The next IGC in 2004 will have to be bolder in considering the EU's governance to be more than a question of finding internal agreements. It will need to shape the Union for new, continent-wide responsibilities.

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