Eu Enlargement Perspectives: The Balkan Countries And Their Peoples
By Iulian ONEASCA
By Iulian ONEASCA
Release Date : 5/20/2013
Enlargement Reasons and Effects
 
The EU has been created to generate business opportunities and to foster development, improving its future prospects. Specific European mechanisms have been conceived to foster integration, such as deepening, widening and enlargement. In order to successfully prepare for globalisation, these processes need to continue. Up until 2009, when the treaty of Lisbon came into force, the contributions and initiatives of political personalities mattered more than democratic processes.

So far, the EU has a highly performing legal and administrative framework, within which individuals, firms and governments interact to generate income and wealth in the economy. European values, its governance and accountability practices are recognized conventional standards, transferred as such all over the world.

Globalization, population ageing and competitiveness require a larger market. That is why, the enlargement is a pro-active European policy, meant more to prevent than to treat and mitigate economic shortcomings. It is a win-win scenario for both the EU and its neighbouring countries. The businesses identify good opportunities in accession countries, especially for EU Member States. Their industries are buying most of the national assets, flood the markets and make billions. The west gets richer and the candidate countries gain recognition and access to development opportunities. The EU magnetic effect, following accession, bears fruit and the New Member States grow faster.
The EU’s enlargement possibilities are limited by the geographical criterion. Peace and stability remain essential and cannot be endangered by European Union transformation. A compact and peaceful realm may save undivided attention for development purposes, for the benefit of European societies.
Still, enlargement is pampered by paradoxes:
   · In general, the Westerners, like most people used to a good life, are conservative, struggling to protect their high living standards. Under such circumstances, competition should be unwelcome. Yet, when it comes to cheaper labour, they are opening their countries to foreigners.
   · With each enlargement the common market gets bigger. New businesses are entering the EU. However, an opposed phenomenon can be observed: more and more businesses are leaving the EU, relocating in less costly environments, whether in New Member States, or in countries from other continents.
   · People are one of the main reasons for enlargement. The labour supply is limited in EU, despite its growing unemployment, and the perspectives are not good: the population is getting older every year. Yet the labour force mobility of the New Member States within EU can be restricted by Old Member States for up to seven years.
   · EU cohesion policy is a long term endeavour of "reducing disparities between the various regions and the backwardness of the least-favoured regions“. Each enlargement brings into the EU further development disparities, converting the cohesion policy in a never ending transformation. The result is a much larger market, instead of an ever closer union of people.

 
Balkans Peoples - Gains and Losses

The wealth of nations lies with their people. Riches of above and underneath earth have no match. Without people to add more value to them, oil, gold, diamonds or any other precious matter, are of no use. That is why, generally, development relies on human capability and ingenuity.

Table 1 presents a rough picture of peoples in Balkans and the EU. It can be observed that the EU expects approx. 19.5% more peoples to join its 508 millions. The most numerous populations, 80.6 mil., come from Turkey, all the other six countries counting for less than 19 million people. Not only is the number of people important. Their age and growth are also significant. Compared to a median age of 41.2 years in EU, Turkey and Kosovo are the only countries in the region with a median age of less than 30 years. More importantly, the population growth is positive and significant in Turkey, which means that its accession will contribute to fighting the population aging phenomenon and labour shortages.

Along with the populations’ numbers and ages, these countries are bringing to the EU significant differences, accumulated over the years, in their search for growth. Figure 1 presents a perspective of the losses of the EU accession countries, based on inequality adjusted Human Development Index. As references, we have used three different groups of countries: one representing the Northern Europe, the most developed part of EU, in social terms, another group representing the larger family of Southern EU countries, and the third group, representing the New Member States.

The most important losses of the HDI are generally those owed to inequality in income. This is valid for all groups of countries. What is differentiating them is not only the magnitude of losses, between 10 % and over 25%, but the fact that these losses in income are accompanied by losses in the adjusted education index. The southern countries, Cyprus, Greece and Italy, show similar patterns with Macedonia and Turkey. The least affected is the life expectancy, even though the inequality is visibly increasing from the left side to the side right of the figure. It appears that Turkey is accumulating more inequalities than any other country in the figure. It is the price paid for its higher growth rates. An inclusive and pro-poor growth needs to be taken into consideration.
 

Balkans Peoples - Freedom of Movement Opportunities

Enlargement brings the EU fundamental freedoms closer to the people of Balkans. Gradually, they will enjoy the freedom of movement that provides plenty opportunities, such as for education, work and health care or tourism. The most appreciated is the movement for work, generally valued through temporary migration.

The issues of migration and integration policies enjoy more and more attention in the EU. The reasons are provided by globalization and by the pressing demands to counteract the aging population while improving the freedom of movement of the labour force in EU. Within efforts to build a Europe of citizens in the area of freedom, security and justice, the European Council adopted the Stockholm Programme for 2010-2014. The Chapter dedicated to proactive policies for migrants and their rights sets the objective of a common policy on immigration, ensuring, until 2014, rights and obligations comparable to those of EU citizens to third-country nationals legally residing in EU Member States (EC 2010 / C 115/01 par. 6.1.4.).

In this context, a group of national organizations (37), including think-tanks, NGOs, foundations, universities, research centres and institutions for equal rights, under the lead of the British Council and the Migration Policy Group, have designed and developed the migrant integration policy index (MIPEX). It is an assessment, comparing and improving integration policy tools based on European policies and international standards. The standards are deriving from the Council of Europe Conventions and EU Directives or European policy recommendations that complete the references to minimum standards. Best practices are fairly reflected.

MIPEX[1] offers a multi-dimensional picture of migrants' opportunities in 31 countries (EU, Norway, Switzerland, USA and Canada) to live and work as full members of society. The research builds on 148 indicators covering seven different areas of policy: labour market mobility, family reunification, education, political participation, long-term residence, access to citizenship, anti-discrimination. Migrant integration policy index is expressed as a percentage, by converting a 1-3 scale into a 0-100% scale for dimensions and policy areas, where 100% is the top score.
 

[1] The subject is presented based on the data provided by www.mipex.eu.
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