April 14, 2008
The EU has come a long way since the initial six members founded the Coal and Steel Community in 1951. Since then, the EU has grown, not only in terms of members, but also in terms of substance.
Membership or rather the prospect of membership, coupled with the very substance of EU cooperation, e.g. Justice and Home Affairs, the Single Market, and The Charter of Fundamental Rights, is one of the most powerful incitements for European states to form democratic societies, based on free markets and the rule of law. We have seen this urge for reform surface in candidate countries as a prelude to every single enlargement of the EU. Many observers have called enlargement the EU’s greatest success in foreign policy.
Thus, it is crucial that continued focus is directed at the enlargement process. In terms of democratic and economic development, there is still a long way to go in some of our neighbouring regions. Future membership is, without a doubt, the most effective stimulant for further reforms in these countries. The Copenhagen criteria not only speed up the reform process in these countries, they also ensure that, when countries are accepted into the union, they represent a strengthening of the EU, not a burden.
We, at the Danish European movement, therefore feel that future enlargements, even beyond the current candidate countries, must be at the core of EU development. It will secure peace, democracy, economic growth and social equality for future generations of Europeans.