The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

The European Union this past week embarked on a historic expansion plan by inviting 10 new member states. This further spreads the concept of a borderless Continent, within the framework of an organization that used to be a coal and steel exchange market.

Amid these bold moves come questions about just what a bigger EU would mean, both for the newcomers and the current members. It's an important point, since the primary way leaders in Poland, the Baltics and other prospectives have sold the concept of membership is to tout the way it would jumpstart their economies--eventually. The thing is, they tend to leave off the "eventually" part. Basic macro-economic theory sets up the new member-states as sources for cheap labor, material and markets, at the very least for the short term (and very possibly for the foreseeable future). As galling as it is, EU membership for a Poland or Lithuania really calls for that state to play an economic role like that of Mexico's to the U.S.

Of course, for the average citizen, this doesn't matter as much as the big tradeoff: Freedom of movement across borders for economic benefit (i.e., to find a better job). Again, this isn't coming immediately, but the chance for it beats out all fears.

Related to the future shape of the EU as a result of enlargement is the bureaucratic baggage the semi-state brings along. The way this evolves over the next ten years will be fascinating to watch.

Lastly, it can't be an EU story without Turkey, who once again got blown off in this process even as Cypus, it's regional hot-button issue, got in. I think it's funny that the Euros have pushed the Turks off for another 3 years, and are acting as though there's still some chance of letting them into their club. Let me be perfectly clear to what I feel is obvious: The European Union, will never, never, NEVER admit Turkey. Never. Never. Never. To paraphrase one Chris Rock: You know how they say "never say never"? I'm saying NEVER. There is no way Christian Europe will let a populous Muslim nation into their front stoop. Turkey has a better chance of becoming one of the United States than it has of becoming an EU member.