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EU needs medicine for enlargement 'indigestion'

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EU needs medicine for enlargement 'indigestion'


The flag-waving and all-round congratulations of May 2004 have given way today to political indigestion, leaving the politicians casting around for the right medicine. Bulgaria and Romania’s accession will complete a “big bang” enlargement. That has since prompted a public backlash of “enlargement fatigue”. In October 2005, at the same time as Turkey, Croatia’s membership negotiations began. There was a surge of hope in other Western Balkan states that the queue was moving along, although fitfully. This summit comes after the EU bloc agreed to a partial freeze in Turkey’s entry talks because it has not normalised trade with Cyprus.

Now, the leaders will insist that any further expansion wait for reform of the EU’s institutions. Already, discomfort over Turkey was a factor in French and Dutch “No” votes to a constitution designed to revamp EU structures to expand further. Leaders will also study how to help states such as Spain, Italy and Malta cope with influxes of migrants and, according to a draft accord, will agree to pool their border guards to fend off illegal entry attempts by sea. Boosting control on the bloc’s eastern land borders is another hot topic. About to become part of the EU’s outer frontier, Bulgaria is keen to allay some members’ fears that it will become a gateway for crime into the bloc. It lies on the oldest trade route between Asia and Europe.

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