Embargo: Immediate Friday 5th May 2006

Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659


The House of Lords European Union Select Committee have today launched a new inquiry into the further enlargement of the EU. The inquiry will seek to identify the political and economic impact of previous enlargements, public opinion regarding an enlarged EU and the challenges posed by future enlargement.

In 2004 ten countries became new EU Member States and Bulgaria and Romania are expected to join in 2007. The enlargement process is set to continue beyond that with Croatia, while several other states in the Balkans are also seen as potential new members. Turkey is already a candidate for membership at some stage in the future.

This expansion presents many challenges for the EU as it develops from a small group of Western European countries to a body incorporating several relatively new and developing democracies.

Commenting Lord Grenfell, Chairman of the EU Select Committee, said:

"The Select Committee's job is to hold the Government and the European Union's institutions to account on behalf of UK citizens.

"EU enlargement throws up many important issues and we will be analysing these from a particular UK perspective. We hope this will complement recent enlargement studies undertaken in other Member States such as the Centre for European Reform's just published study commissioned in Denmark.

"Current analysis suggests that the recent enlargement which brought in ten new members in 2004 has proven an economic success. But there are still concerns about its impact and fears about further expansion. We will try to find out if these fears are justified

"If there have been successes and failures we want to know what they are and what we can do to ensure further enlargement produces maximum benefits for British and European citizens."

Among the many questions the EU Committee will consider will be:

  • What has been the economic impact of the last round of enlargement?

  • What has been the political impact and what lessons can be learned for future enlargement?

  • Has enlargement affected the EU's commitment to democracy and human rights?

  • Is enlargement unpopular with the public in current member states?

  • Could enlargement weaken the trust and solidarity between Member States?

  • How is EU membership viewed by citizens in the new Member States who joined in 2004?

  • Should the EU define the borders of 'Europe' to clarify how far enlargement could go?

  • Are there viable alternatives to full EU membership?

Notes to Editors

1. The call for evidence was issued on Friday 5th May 2006 and can be found here:

2. The closing date for the submission of written evidence is the end of June 2006.

3. The members of the EU Select Committee who will conduct the inquiry are:

Lord Grenfell (Chairman)

Lord Blackwell

Lord Bowness

Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood

Lord Dubs

Lord Geddes

Lord Goodhart

Lord Hannay of Chiswick

Lord Harrison

Lord Maclennan of Rogart

Lord Marlesford

Lord Neill of Bladen

Lord Radice

Lord Renton of Mount Harry

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood

Lord Tomlinson

Lord Woolmer of Leeds

Lord Wright of Richmond