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Does Size Matter?

The House of Lords European Union Committee have launched a new inquiry into the prospects for further EU enlargement.  The Committee have issued a Call for Evidence as the European Commission today publishes its Enlargement Strategy for 2012/13.

The Committee will consider whether the prospect of EU enlargement is affected by the Euro crisis and the worrying economic situation in many existing Member States. They are inviting evidence from the public on this issue, which is of vital importance for the future of the EU and countries such as Turkey and Serbia who hope to join it. 

The Committee are inviting evidence on a broad range of issues surrounding enlargement. Some of the questions they would welcome submissions on include:

  • Are the current criteria for membership of the EU the correct ones?
  • What is the economic, social and political impact of EU membership on the new Member States?
  • How does EU membership impact on wages and living standards in new Member States and what is the effect on small and medium sized enterprises?
  • How does EU enlargement impact on existing Member States and what is the impact on the UK?
  • Is there a danger of enlargement fatigue? How will the tough economic climate in Europe impact on the prospects for further enlargement of the EU?

Commenting, Lord Boswell, Chairman of the House of Lords EU Committee, said:

“The European Union has for a long time sought to continue its growth and absorb new Member States. The last round of enlargement which brought Romania and Bulgaria into the EU fold has provided economic benefits but also presented challenges for both countries as well as existing Member States. With Europe facing unprecedented economic problems, including the Euro-area crisis, is an ever-expanding EU still desirable?

“Our inquiry is being launched as the European Commission publishes its Enlargement Strategy for 2012/13 which continues to stress the importance of enlargement. Have the Commission got this right? Or is it time for a change of focus to look at consolidation, rather than further expansion?

“We would welcome evidence from anyone with an interest or expertise in enlargement and hope our inquiry can provide a useful and thorough contribution to the debate over the future of the European Union at this decisive moment in its history.”

The Committee is inviting written evidence which must be received by 14 November.