Joining the European Union just got tougher. That is the message coming out of a regular leaders’ summit. The discussions continue this Friday. It was made clear at a press conference that future expansions of the bloc can expect to be far more strictly managed. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso laid down the law: “We cannot lower our standards. If we want to be serious about enlargement, we have to tell the candidate countries that all the criteria have to be respected. This is the way that we show our seriousness about having them with us in the future.” The core business at the meeting of the Heads of State or Government is enlargement strategy. Since a “big bang” expansion in May two years ago, a public backlash has set in. Many Europeans are worried that too much is happening, too fast. 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 till reform of the EU’s institutions is clamped into place; That means resolving the impasse over the common constitution. This will be the European Union’s last summit with 25 Member States. EU-celebrants welcomed the newest members, Romania and Bulgaria, who will join on January 1st, with a giant map made of ginger-bread. Energy and innovation are on the summit agenda for day two.
Future EU expansion a tougher prospect for all