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The Copenhagen Criteria and the Enlargement

of the European Union
Copenhagen 14 May 2013
Conference Report
Enlargement Remains a Driver of Change 5
By Nicolai Wammen, Minister for European Affairs of Denmark
Copenhagen Criteria the Backbone of EU Enlargement 9
By S

tefan Fle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy

Being on Both Sides of the Fence: The Slovak Experience
and Views on the EU Enlargement 13
By Miroslav Lajc k, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign
and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic
How EU Enlargement has Shaped and Continues to
Shape Europe 17
By Suzana Grubje si c, Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration
of Serbia
Building a Community of Stable and Prosperous States
the Unnished Mission of the EU in the Western
Balkans 21
By Nikola Poposki, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the former Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia
Enlargement with the Western Balkans 25
By Ivan Vejvoda, Vice-President of the German Marshall Fund
of the United States
The Foundations of Europes Peace 29
By Fabrizio Tassinari, Danish Institute for International Studies
Editorial note:
The views and opinions expressed in the following articles are those of the authors
and do not necessarily reect the ofcial policy or position of the Danish Government.
ing points demanded a more principled approach. Accordingly,
the European leaders introduced the conditions for membership,
which we have since come to know as the Copenhagen criteria.
The criteria included the need for prospective member states to
institutions that guarantee democracy, the rule of law, hu-
man rights and respect for and protection of minorities;
a functioning market economy and the capacity to cope
with competitive pressures and market forces within the
the ability to take on the obligations of membership (aquis
In order to ensure the full effectiveness of the Union, while
maintaining the momentum of the European integration pro-
cess, the European Council also highlighted the capacity of the
Union to absorb new members as a key consideration.
The decision in Copenhagen provided the countries in Central
and Eastern Europe with a clear sense of direction as well as a
challenging list of homework to do. Though seemingly simple,
the three criteria were translated into very demanding require-
ments for a complete transformation of the institutions in each
of the prospective member states. In the ensuing years all the
countries underwent major democratic and economic reforms.
In May 2004 ten new members (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania,
Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Hungary as well
as Cyprus and Malta) were ready to join, followed by Bulgaria
and Romania in 2007.
In the spring of 1989 I visited the divided city of Berlin as
a high school student. It made a huge impression on me to
experience the check-points at rst hand and see how families
and friends were kept away from each other by force. Even my
own group of students was held back for several hours by the
border police. Less than a year later together with the rest of
the world I watched in awe as the Berlin Wall came down
and the people of Central and Eastern Europe embraced their
newly-won freedom. Looking back, it was indeed another era
compared with todays Europe where citizens travel, work and
trade freely across our continent.
It is important to remember that this development was not pre-
destined. History does not by itself arrange events in the interest
of peace, democracy and prosperity. Rather, it is the result of
conscious decisions as well as structural developments. In the
aftermath of the Cold War one political decision stands out:
The decision at the European Council meeting in Copenhagen
in June 1993 to invite the associated countries of Central and
Eastern Europe to become members of the European Union.
The decision of the European Council was motivated less by
short term economic gain than by the desire to support the on-
going reforms, transmit the European values of democracy and
human rights, and to ensure a peaceful and stable development
throughout a larger Europe. Thus, the decision was in true keep-
ing with the original objectives of the founders of the European
The unprecedented enlargement of the EU with a large number
of countries having very different political and economic start-
By Nicolai Wammen, Minister for European Affairs of Denmark
With the so-called renewed consensus on enlargement in 2006
the EU reinforced its focus on the credibility of the enlargement
process, putting rule of law at the centre. Accordingly, difcult
issues such as administrative and judicial reforms and the ght
against corruption are addressed at an early stage. The pace of
the accession process depends on the results of the reforms in
the candidate country, with each country being judged on its
own merits.
Candidate and potential candidate countries are evaluated not
on stated intentions but on tangible and very concrete results on
the ground concerning implementation of fundamental rights
and freedoms, rule of law, good governance, economic reform
and the ght against corruption and organized crime.
In July this year we will welcome Croatia as the 28th member
of the European Union. The Croatian Government has worked
hard to get to where they are now, and membership of the EU
is fully deserved. This positive development sends a strong mes-
sage of the transformative power of enlargement and demon-
strates what is possible in a region with a difcult past. It gives
an excellent dynamic to the continued enlargement process and
acts as an incentive and encouragement to all the countries in
the region.
From time to time we hear voices talk of enlargement fatigue,
pointing either to the risk of weakening the EU or to the inad-
equate preparation of prospective member states. In particular
in times of economic crisis some would argue that enlargement
issues must await better times.
However, it is important to recognize, as did the European lead-
ers in Copenhagen in 1993, that enlargement has obvious ben-
ets for the inhabitants of the new member states, but certainly
also for the stability and security of the EU as a whole.
It affects us directly when our neighbours are faced with prob-
lems. Examples are organized crime, human trafcking, drugs
Spreading democracy, stability, security and rising levels of liv-
ing standards across most of Europe, the enlargements of 2004
and 2007 helped bridge the gaps caused by the Cold War and
thus marked a historic step towards a united Europe. As such
the EUs continued enlargement has contributed to shaping the
peaceful and democratic Europe that we know today as also
recognized by the Nobel Prize Committee last year.
Historical anniversaries provide welcome occasions for reection
looking back as well as ahead. This year, as we celebrate the
20th anniversary of the Copenhagen criteria, we should not only
ask ourselves whether the criteria have delivered by living up
to the hopes and aspirations vested in them at the time of their
adoption. At this historical juncture it is equally important that
we ask: do the Copenhagen criteria still provide a relevant basis
for the EUs enlargement policy?
Membership of the EU is as coveted in the countries in our
close neighbourhood as ever. Nowhere is this as evident as in
the Western Balkans a region which was ravaged by a brutal
civil war less than 20 years ago and saw killings which, in some
places, turned into genocide.
But today the situation in the region has changed entirely. All of
the countries in the Western Balkans have a European perspec-
tive and all are engaged in comprehensive reform efforts. Old
conicts between former adversaries are being overcome. The
most recent success is the agreement on normalisation between
Serbia and Kosovo. More than anything else it is the perspec-
tive of one day being able to join the EU that continues to drive
reforms and that contributes to reconciliation in the region.
In this process the Copenhagen criteria remain the core of the
EU enlargement policy and they continue to form the basis for
assessing progress in individual countries. But today the criteria
are enhanced by measures deriving from lessons learned from
the enlargements of 2004 and 2007. The criteria remain the
same, but there is a strengthened focus on their implementation.
The viability and continued impact of the Copenhagen criteria
serve as a reminder to all of us. The EU is a community built on
common values with democracy, rule of law, respect for human
rights and minorities and a well-functioning market economy at
its core. These basic values are the glue that holds us together in
times of prosperity as well as in times of adversity. And it is the
consolidation of these values on the European continent that
remains the ultimate goal of enlargement.
and illegal migration. On the other hand, we stand to gain
when our neighbours prosper. The enlargement process has
been instrumental in transforming unstable countries with weak
democratic institutions, minority problems and border issues
into stable, prosperous and peaceful democracies. Furthermore,
enlargement provides a larger market and new opportunities for
export and investment.
When announcing the peace prize last year, the Nobel Com-
mittee recognised enlargement policy as one of the EUs main
contributions to the advancement of peace and reconciliation,
democracy and human rights in Europe. Through successive en-
largements, the EU has brought nations and cultures together,
consolidated democracy in countries which had experienced
dictatorships, reinforced the rule of law and respect for funda-
mental rights, and promoted economic growth and employ-
ment. The Nobel Committee thus reminded us that enlarge-
ment has been and continues to be a success story for Europe as
a whole. On the other hand, EU enlargement is not uncontro-
versial. Critics say there were issues not fully addressed during
the previous enlargement wave and that in general we have
enough problems on our plate struggling with the impact of
the nancial crisis without the added burden of taking in new
All these views testify to the complexity and importance of
the enlargement policy; a policy that not only impacts on our
current politics but shapes the future of the whole continent.
The Copenhagen criteria and it is not an overstatement have
played a pivotal role in how this policy has been designed and
implemented. As it is 20 years since the criteria were formalised,
now is a good time to take a closer look at how they delivered.
Let me highlight three aspects: the process, the impact and, last
but not least, todays relevance.
Twenty years ago Europe was undergoing dramatic geo-political
change. New democracies were emerging on our doorstep,
characterised by weak or new democratic, administrative and
economic structures. The challenges of transition were immense
but not insurmountable. With the prospect of the EU more
than doubling its membership in the foreseeable future, the
Copenhagen criteria clearly set out the rules of the game, rmly
anchoring conditionality in the accession process.
The political criteria required new Member States to ensure
stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of
law, human rights, respect for and protection of minorities.
The economic criteria called for the existence of a functioning
market economy as well as the capacity to cope with competi-
tive pressure and market forces within the Union. Aspiring
states would have to be able to take on the full body of EU
rules and regulations known as the acquis communautaire. And
the EUs ability to absorb new members, while maintaining the
momentum of European integration, was also an important
These criteria are as relevant today to the countries of the
Western Balkans and Turkey as they were in 1993 to the then
prospective members of Central and Eastern Europe. The
Copenhagen criteria are central to the renewed enlargement
consensus of 2006, which forms the basis of the EUs enlarge-
ment policy today.
Conditionality as a concept was not new but its formal adop-
tion in Copenhagen armed the accession process with objectivity
and predictability, thus guarding it against the changing whims
of politics. Of course any EU enlargement will remain as much
a political project, going beyond the formal compliance with
By S

tefan Fle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy

technical criteria. But the Copenhagen criteria are a safeguard
for quality. They underline the importance of a well-managed
accession process based on the fullment of specic conditions.
They serve as an objective counterpart of the political commit-
ments, increasing the credibility of the whole policy.
This aspect is of particular signicance today, as the nancial cri-
sis has left many in the EU with a sense of insecurity and doubts
about its role and future. Rigorous conditionality, stemming
from the Copenhagen criteria, is the best guarantee that the
enlargement process is not being rushed through. The pace at
which each country advances towards membership depends on
its performance in meeting the necessary conditions. We need to
be sure that the aspiring countries are ready to be EU members,
capable of joining without importing difculties. Enlargement
based on a well-managed accession process where countries meet
the criteria and are able to take on the obligations of member-
ship strengthens the new member states and the Union as a
Enlargement is thus by denition a gradual process, based on
solid and sustainable implementation of reforms by the coun-
tries concerned. This is where the impact of conditionality
driven by the Copenhagen criteria comes into play. Within the
framework of strict yet fair conditionality, the prospect of acces-
sion drives political and economic reforms, transforming socie-
ties and creating new opportunities for citizens and businesses.
It reinforces the EUs political and economic strengths.
Take again the 2004 enlargement. The accession of countries in
Central and Eastern Europe united East and West after decades
of articial separation, contributing to overall stability and
security. It also provided concrete, mutual benets of deeper
trade integration, a larger internal market, economies of scale
and expanded investment and job opportunities. From the start
of negotiations to actual accession, exports from the EU to the
acceding countries more than tripled.
The current enlargement wave provides further impressive evi-
dence of the transformative power of conditionality combined
with a clear European perspective. Less than twenty years ago,
the region of the Western Balkans was seen as a place of destruc-
tion and despair. Now it is consolidating peace and stability.
Croatia, torn by conict not long ago, is due to join the EU on
1 July 2013. Membership negotiations have started with Monte-
negro. Serbia and Kosovo* struck a historic deal which paves the
way for them to advance decisively in their European perspec-
tives. The EU remains a key anchor for democratic modernisa-
tion in Turkey. Reforms have continued in the other countries of
the region, despite difculties and political tensions.
The American Constitution is said to have kept its relevance
over so many years because of its brevity: it focuses on the essen-
tials while the subsequent amendments keep it up to date with
the changing reality and new challenges that Americas founding
fathers could not obviously foresee. I am glad that the Copenha-
gen criteria, although much younger, follow the same principle:
they set out the essentials.
Today, while the enlargement conditionality remains the same,
the way it is applied in terms of supporting candidates in meet-
ing the criteria evolves based on lessons learnt from past enlarge-
ments. The European Commission is putting an increased focus
on good governance and the rule of law, including judicial
reform, public administration reform and the ght against cor-
ruption and organised crime. The EUs new approach to nego-
tiations in the policy areas of judiciary and fundamental rights,
as well as justice, freedom and security, is a case in point. From
now on, these areas will be tackled early in the negotiations
to allow maximum time to establish the necessary legislation,
* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR
1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.
institutions, and solid track records of implementation before
the negotiations are closed. This will ensure that reforms are
deeply rooted and irreversible which will, in turn, foster stability
and reduce the risks of illegal immigration and inltration of
criminality. These are issues of direct concern to citizens in both
the European Union and the enlargement countries.
When most people talk of the Copenhagen criteria, they think
of the political criteria. It is equally important to address the
economic criteria early in the process. As the EU undergoes
far-reaching changes to its economic governance, enlargement
countries need to be informed, involved and associated as closely
as possible to the process. This will help them get sound nan-
cial rules and budgets in place before they join. And it ensures
that acceding countries will not only be able to fully implement
EU obligations, but also to face future challenges. In view of the
interdependency of our economies, this will benet the Euro-
pean Union as a whole.
By extending Europes zone of peace, stability, democracy and
prosperity, enlargement is providing benets to the EU as a
whole. It is making the EU not only bigger, but politically and
economically better positioned to address global challenges. This
effectiveness of the enlargement process is largely the result of its
solid backbone: the Copenhagen criteria. They have stood the
test of time and, through improved application, continue today
to provide the framework, guidance and inspiration for the
enlargement policy.
By Miroslav Lajck, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic
Simultaneously, the entire integration project has been trans-
formed in terms of its institutions, policies, while the EUs
global stance is also affected. The enlargement strengthens our
common voice in world affairs and Europe is equipped better to
deal with its neighbours.
I am convinced that all enlargement rounds, including the last
big bang, beneted the entire Union the older part as well
as the new one. The enlargement has played a crucial role in
enhancing economic prosperity and growth in Europe.
Expansion of the single market was a key point. The fact
that rapidly growing economies became part of the common
market helped unleash its growth potential, boost competitive-
ness, deepen the economic integration and thus, increase the
resilience of the European economy as a whole. According to
the IMF gures, the EU with a total GDP of 16 025 billion
USD, in Purchasing Power Parity is the biggest economy and
the largest common market in the world. Our GDP is 50 per
cent higher than the cumulated economic output of the BRIC
countries. Slovakia itself has jumped from 50 per cent to 75 per
cent of the average EU GDP in less than ten years.
Citizens of old Europe have also beneted from the recent
round of enlargement. Fears that the entry of ten poorer coun-
tries would pull money out of their pockets have proved ground-
less. There was no reduction in the economic activity in older
member states, their labour market was not awash by Eastern
European plumbers and their welfare systems did not collapse.
Since its very rst expansion to Denmark, Ireland and the Unit-
ed Kingdom four decades ago, the enlargement has become an
indivisible part of the European project. Until today, the EU has
grown from six to twenty-seven member states, while in a couple
of weeks Croatia will join the club as the rst Western Balkan
country under the 2003 Thessaloniki Agenda. With another ve
candidate countries and few other aspirants sitting in the wait-
ing room, the European Unions enlargement is anything but a
nished story.
Being one of the EUs most successful policies, the enlargement
has become a key tool for enhancing democracy and the rule of
law as well as maintaining security and stability across Europe.
Its transformative power is well-proven in case of South Euro-
pean countries that got rid of their dictatorships in the 1970s, in
case of Central and Eastern European countries that successfully
and fully integrated following the collapse of the Iron Curtain,
and nally, in case of Croatia, a country torn by the Balkan
disaster just two decades ago, but currently a stable democracy
capable of living by membership obligations.
When speaking about a transformative power of the enlarge-
ment policy, it should not be omitted that it is not only about
an ultimate objective the EU membership. The accession
process itself is essential for transforming a country. The EU-
brokered agreement between Belgrade and Pristina is the most
recent example. Could anyone imagine such a deal without a
pull effect of a European perspective?
On the contrary, the enlargement provided them with an
enormous growth impulse thanks to new, unprecedented invest-
ment and business opportunities. They gained access to vibrant,
unsaturated markets and favourable production capacities liter-
ally next door and already before the accession of newcomers.
This helped Western companies to strengthen their international
competitiveness, while protecting domestic jobs. Countries that
increased trade with and investment in new markets experi-
enced stronger growth in particular due to enlargement. Labour
migration eased bottlenecks in those states that opened up their
labour markets.
All of this serves as evidence that the enlargement is denitely a
win-win story for each and every player. It is worth mentioning
this repeatedly as the European public still seems to be rather
fearful of potential immigration, especially during the economic
downturn. In this regard both, the EU institutions and national
governments need to do a better job of explaining all enlarge-
ment benets.
There is no doubt that the enlargement agenda remains impor-
tant. Nevertheless, current internal problems the EU is facing
result in an impression that it is slipping down the list of our
But even in these challenging times we must not forget that
there is life outside the EU. There are countries and people
counting on us, intending to follow our example, willing to join
us. We should not abandon our ambitions to play an active role
in providing stability and prosperity abroad, especially in our
immediate surroundings. However, it is not only about ambi-
tions. It is also about our responsibilities and interests. We need
to have our neighbours on our side, rather than leaving the
space open for possible instability and turbulence.
In Slovakia, we remember well the difference between waiting
outside and being inside. We have a fresh experience of being on
both sides of the fence. More than two decades ago, when setting
off for democracy, the rule of law and market economy, we were
offered a vision a vision to become part of a united, peaceful
and prosperous Europe. We are pretty aware of how important it
is to keep this vision alive for the countries knocking on the EUs
It is, rst of all, the Western Balkans where the EU cannot leave
its business unnished. The stability and security of Europe
has always been interlinked with that region. Anything hap-
pening there affects our vital interests in a positive or a negative
way. It is crucial for us to have the Western Balkans countries
completely on board.
Therefore, Slovakia strongly supports their European aspira-
tions. On the one hand, we are the most resolute proponent
of further EU enlargement, but on the other hand, we are the
aspirants most vocal and direct critics when they do not deliver
satisfactory results. We know perfectly well how difcult it is to
meet all necessary benchmarks. But there is no other way, except
doing your homework well and properly.
During our transformation and accession process we received
strong support and practical help from our partners in the Euro-
Atlantic community. Now, being its fully-edged member, we
try to channel our support and experience to others.
The Western Balkans countries are struggling with problems
similar to those we struggled with before. Therefore we consider
it natural to provide all necessary assistance we can. We believe
that our success has the power to inspire and encourage.
To present tailor-made responses to the needs of our partners
through consultations or internships, a Centre for Transfer of
Experiences from Integration and Reforms (CETIR) was estab-
lished by the Slovak Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs
in 2011. Dozens of projects have been implemented until now.
Within our national Ofcial Development Aid programme
(ODA), we plan to allocate 500 000 EUR for the expert as-
sistance in Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and other countries
of the region this year. One example of our expert support is the
National Convention for European Integration in Montenegro,
a project similar to one implemented in Slovakia during our
pre-accession period. It aims to develop strategies and commu-
nication mechanisms with civil society on European issues as
well as better inform the public about reforms carried out by the
respective governments.
Additional nancial assistance could be provided by the In-
ternational Visegrad Fund that pools resources, capacities and
know-how of four Visegrad countries the Czech Republic,
Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. Last year, ten projects to pro-
mote democratization and transformation processes in Western
Balkans countries were supported by 650 000 EUR within the
Visegrad+ Programme. Given a good experience with third par-
ties co-nancing our activities, we are open to cooperate with
additional international donors, too.
It is actually the Visegrad cooperation itself that remains one of
our main export commodities towards the Western Balkans.
The countries of the region are like communicating vessels
close-knit by the same political concepts and problems. Any
negative or positive development in one country is reected in
a slightly modied shape in a neighbouring one sooner or later.
Therefore, regional cooperation is strongly needed to overcome
the existing problems and put the countries on the path of
positive development. The importance of good neighbourhood
relations and mutually benecial cooperation can hardly be
overestimated. The experience of Slovakia and its neighbours
within the Visegrad Four Group serves as a good example.
Following the 2004 and 2007 enlargements, there have been
changes to the enlargement process in response to lessons
learned. As a result, pre-accession as well as accession processes
focus much stronger on good governance criteria the rule of
law, independent judiciary, efcient public administration, the
ght against corruption and organised crime. Given our own
experience, Slovakia fully supports this new approach.
Our partners sometime complain that the number of pages of
the acquis is rising. That is true and it will not be otherwise. On
top of that, the EU is heading towards a substantial change of
its policies and institutions, especially in economic and nancial
domains. This is a reality and aspiring countries must simply
take this into account.
They will certainly need more time to comply with the acces-
sion criteria as it was in the case of our country. But there is no
reason to reject them in advance because today they are perhaps
a bit different in political, economic or socio-cultural terms. The
Copenhagen criteria adopted two decades ago and nevertheless
still relevant may be strict and rigorous, but they are denitely
a fair test of how seriously the countries intend to integrate into
the EU; how much they are prepared and mature for this step.
They reect the fundamental European values and as these do
not change, so will not the criteria. It is of crucial importance
for these criteria to be properly applied by any current and
future candidates for EU membership. Failure to do this could
lead to a scramble in order to bring the countries concerned up
to speed.
The enlargement is neither charity, nor humanitarian assistance.
Aspirants must not only benet from, but also contribute to the
EU. They must make sure that our effort and resources are not
wasted. New members are expected to be a part of solutions, not
part of the problem. The EU enlargement is not about coming
closer to the EU; it is about building the EU inside of each and
every country. Conditionality is of utmost importance. There-
fore we strongly support the on-own-merits principle.
On the other hand, some exibility is also needed. By granting
an aspirant a candidate country status or by opening accession
for keeping the EU at the forefront on a global stage. Without
any doubt, the latest enlargement made the integration project
stronger. We believe that future rounds will make it stronger
again. It is therefore in our interest to help those sitting in the
EUs waiting room get fully prepared for their membership. As
in our case, the Copenhagen criteria may serve as a lighthouse
navigating the candidates on their way towards the EU.
negotiations the EU has the opportunity to encourage the states
administration to intensify transformation efforts and the full-
ment of accession criteria. It is our own experience that makes us
believe there is no better encouragement on the way to the EU.
Given its own integration experience, Slovakia is strongly advo-
cating further EU enlargement. This policy holds a big potential
While a doctrine designed to incorporate the states of the fallen-
apart Warsaw pact into a greater European family had been
contemplated and designed, the remains of the Soviet Union
were passing through turmoil, whereas the war was raging in the
Balkans, demanding a different conceptualisation.
Though the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY)
had signed a cooperation agreement with the European Com-
munity already in 1980 and a Trade and Cooperation Agree-
ment between the EU and Albania had been penned in 1992,
making the country eligible for funding under the EU PHARE
program, it was not until 1997 that a more coherent strategic
formulation was congured for EUs relations with countries of
the ex-SFRY.
The General Affairs Council (GAC) of April 1997 established
basis for developing bilateral relations between the EU and the
countries of the region** within a framework which promotes
democracy, the rule of law, higher standards of human and
minority rights, transformation towards market economies and
greater cooperation between those countries. This newly de-
ned concept, dubbed the EU-Strategy on Conditionality, was
the rst major alteration of the Copenhagen criteria, aimed at
addressing specifcities of countries in question, and became the
legislative embodiment of the carrot and stick approach of the
EU structural policy towards the region.
In order to be allowed to start negotiations on these bilateral
agreements, the countries of the region were given new Ten
By Suzana Grubjesi c, Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration of Serbia
The enlargement policy of the European Union has been one
of the most successful processes in over 55 years of the com-
mon European project. The structural approach that the Union
exercised has transformed and continues to transform countries
and societies not only in Central and Eastern Europe, but also in
its neighbourhood. And the very foundations of it, the manu-
script for EUs transformative power, had been enshrined in the
conclusions of the European Council of June 1993, setting what
we call today the Copenhagen criteria.
Ever since, stable institutions pledging democracy, the rule of
law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities;
a functioning market economy and the capacity to cope with
competition and market forces in the EU; and the ability to
take on and implement effectively the obligations of member-
ship, including adherence to the aims of political, economic and
monetary union, have become the reformists equivalent of the
ten commandments.
Twenty years later, the Copenhagen criteria remain the back-
bone of the enlargement process, with two (soon three) rounds
of the EU membership increase*. However, transformative
evangelism, while resting on these principles, soon took a more
accommodating approach, especially when it comes to countries
of what is nowadays known as the Western Balkans and the
European Neighbourhood.
** The European Commission considers the 2004 and 2007 enlargements to be two parts
of the same wave.
** Notion of the Western Balkans was introduced later.
the FRY. Oddly enough from this vantage point, the Council
conclusions set as one of conditions for FRY a dialogue between
Belgrade and Prishtina.
The next phase of the EUs relations with the region was initi-
ated by the Communication from the European Commission to
the Council and the European Parliament on the stabilisation
and association process for countries of South-Eastern Europe
in May 1999. The approach entailed the drafting of stabilisa-
tion and association agreements, with a view to accession to the
European Union upon the fullment of the Copenhagen crite-
ria, likewise the development of economic and trade relations,
economic and nancial aid, support for democratisation, civil
society, education and the development of institutions, as well as
cooperation in the eld of justice and home affairs.
Santa Maria da Feira European Council in June 2000 recognized
the countries of the Western Balkans as potential candidates for
the EU membership and the European future of the region was
conrmed during a Council session in December of 2002 in
In June 2003, with the adoption of the Thessaloniki agenda,
the narratives towards the region have somewhat changed. The
2004 big enlargement was less than a year away, Bulgaria
and Romania were poised to join in shortly afterwards and the
Western Balkans remained the only unconsolidated space inside
the future territory of the EU. The pledge of the EU leaders that
the Balkans will be an integral part of a unied Europe gave
much needed hope to citizens throughout the region and new
impetus for reforms.
Serbia, at that period, was again passing through difcult times,
following the assassination of the Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic
and a gradual dissolution of the union with Montenegro. It took
nearly ve years since the adoption of the Agenda for Serbia to
sign the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU,
which ve years later still remains to be fully ratied.
1. Credible offer to and a visible implementation of real oppor-
tunities for displaced persons (including so called internal
migrants) and refugees to return to their places of origin,
and absence of harassment initiated or tolerated by public
2. Readmission of nationals of the States concerned who are
present illegally in the territory of a Member State of the EU;
3. Compliance of the countries which are signatories of GFAP
(General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and
Herzegovina) with the obligations under the peace agree-
ments, including those related to cooperation with the
International Tribunal in bringing war criminals to justice;
4. A credible commitment to engage in democratic reforms and
to comply with the generally recognised standards of human
and minority rights;
5. Holding of free and fair elections at reasonable intervals on
the basis of universal and equal suffrage of adult citizens
by secret ballot, and full and proper implementation of the
results of these elections;
6. Absence of generally discriminatory treatment and harass-
ment of minorities by public authorities;
7. Absence of discriminatory treatment and harassment of
independent media;
8. Implementation of frst steps of economic reform (privatisa-
tion program, abolition of certain price controls);
9. Proven readiness to enter into good neighbourly and coop-
erative relations with its neighbours;
10. Compatibility of RS (Republika Srpska)/FRY (Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia) as well as the Federation (Federation
of Bosnia and Herzegovina)/Croatia agreements with the
Dayton Peace Agreements.
Furthermore, a set of additional requirements was mandate to
each country, prejudicing that, unlike the Central and Eastern
European ones, the countries of the region shall be joining the
EU individually and upon their merits.
GAC of April 1997 signied in a way the beginning of the long
European journey for Serbia, as well, as the legal successor of
criteria, and through various processes (some more successful
than others) has learnt that its most powerful and most effec-
tive instrument in supporting reforms lies within 35 negotiating
chapters and their full and thorough implementation. It has also
proclaimed that the European project shall not be completed
without the countries of the Western Balkans eventually joining
the EU. Thus, it remains beyond any doubt that peoples of the
Western Balkans should be allowed to benet from this process
and by advancing their own societies to benet the EU as a
The Serbian government shall remain diligently devoted to this
goal and the countrys European future, where Serbia is a subject
of European policies, not an object, a partner to its neighbours,
not an adversary, an asset to the EU, and not a burden. All
decisions of the EUs leaders in the past twenty years testify that
they share this vision for Serbia, and granting a date for start-
ing the accession negotiations this June would only accelerate
its fruition, qualitatively enhancing the process and making it
The entry into force of the visa-free regime with the EU in De-
cember 2009 brought a new optimism to citizens of Serbia and
reinvigorated decision-makers. Merely three days afterwards,
Serbia submitted its application for the EU membership. When
the Commissions questionnaire for the avis on the membership
application was handed over in November 2010, it took less
than ve months for it to be sent back fully completed and the
very prospect of the potential candidacy created a new positive
momentum in previously stalling or idling areas.
With the candidate status being granted in March 2012 and
with the stronger than ever European commitment of the new
government, the reform agenda in Serbia was given a new
impetus. A credible opportunity to substantially and fundamen-
tally change the Serbian state, economy and society as a whole
through the process of the EU accession negotiations yielded
unprecedented and until recently unthinkable breakthroughs.
The EU has proven, throughout the past two decades, that it
has a script for achieving transformation the Copenhagen
The Copenhagen criteria have signicantly remodeled the
Western Balkans countries, facilitating their transition from
post-conict societies, through stabilization, to association. The
European membership perspective became the driving force for
their stability and prosperity. Nowadays, the region has reached
a stage when a European perspective has to be as visible and as
clear as possible. Croatia is practically a member state, Montene-
gro is pursuing accession negotiations, Macedonia is a step from
starting accession negotiations, Serbia and Kosovo reached an
agreement that enables both of them to open the next stages of
the EU integration process. Therefore, a continuous and strong
support from the EU and the member states is decisive for pull-
ing the Western Balkans countries towards their shared strategic
goal EU membership.
In the case of Macedonia, the Copenhagen criteria played
a crucial role for its accession process. Moreover, it was the
countrys imperative to build a society with stable institutions
that guarantee democracy, rule of law, human rights, respect and
protection of minorities and a functioning market economy,
capable of contributing to European development and pros-
perity. In order to pursue the reform agenda, a rather burden-
some process of comprehensive and deep-rooted reforms aligned
to the fulfllment of the Copenhagen criteria and EU aquis was
implemented. The result is that today the country has reformed
judiciary, functioning and stable institutions, democratic society
that guarantees human rights and unique advanced system for
protection of minority rights.
In the last two decades, the European family has embraced the
countries from the East and from the South of Europe, spread-
ing the area of security and peace all over the continent. Twenty
years after the historical Summit of Copenhagen, the enlarge-
ment policy of the EU has reached a momentum for reection
on its founding pillars the Copenhagen criteria. The European
Council held in Copenhagen in 1993 had a visionary role for
the future of the EU and for Europe as we know today. The aim
of enlargement was clear: to strengthen the security in Europe
and to support the democratization and the reform-processes of
the ex-communist regimes. Twenty years afterwards, the process
of Eastern Enlargement, which was at the forefront of the Euro-
pean Enlargement Agenda, has come to a successful conclusion,
and it is, by all parameters, a successful story.
After the big bang enlargement Europe has become stronger
and more inuential. Setting the Copenhagen criteria for EU
membership has contributed to the transformation of the ac-
ceding countries, and has allowed a deeper integration of the
EU. Moreover, the Nobel Peace Prize has given credit to the
EU for its pacifying role, but it also stands as an obligation to
continue pursuing a responsible and sustainable enlargement
policy. In this context, it is a paradigm for the EU to nish the
remaining task to ll in the political map of Europe with the
new member states from the Western Balkans.
By Nikola Poposki, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*
* Following EU and UN practice the provisional reference the former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia is used.
tion, which explains the crux of the accession process: progress
in meeting the Copenhagen criteria equals a move closer to EU
membership. Aspirants must deliver on reforms and meet the
criteria, but the EU must also deliver by pulling them closer to
membership, based on their individual merits.
However, in the case of the Western Balkans countries the EU
has moved from strictly dened democratic conditionality to
political conditionality, which targets specic issues in appli-
cant countries. In the case of Macedonia, the imposed condi-
tion of good neighborliness has been the gate keeper for the
EU membership of Macedonia for too long.
As a landlocked country with an open market economy, tradi-
tionally Macedonia has had good relations with all its neighbors.
The economic development of the Macedonia depends on the
quality of its links and networks. Furthermore, Macedonias mul-
ti-ethnic society is reected in the cultural links with its neigh-
bors. The European experience of the neighboring states can be
only an added value to Macedonia road to EU membership.
In the relations with Greece, series of specic activities aimed
at both intensifying the bilateral cooperation and strengthening
the mutual trust have been initiated. Continuous efforts have
been undertaken to resolve the bilateral difference in accordance
with democratic principles, international law and as set out in
the framework provided by the UN resolutions on the matter,
the Interim Accord and the Judgment of the International Court
of Justice. Opening EU accession negotiations can only posi-
tively inuence efforts to resolve the name issue, not vice versa.
Postponing the start of negotiations proved to be an unproduc-
tive approach.
With Bulgaria, another neighboring country member of the EU
club, several initiatives and projects which are essential for genu-
ine good-neighborliness, building the climate of friendship, mu-
tual condence and improving the socio-economic conditions,
have been proposed by the Macedonian government. Openness
on all other EU-minded initiatives has been reiterated.
Moreover, some of the latest achievements include:
Decriminalization of defamation and label in order to
further strengthen media freedoms, as well as an inclusive
dialogue with the media stakeholders, aiming to address is-
sues of concern.
Judiciary reform is on track and started producing concrete
results in form of increased efciency and reduced backlog in
the courts.
Four generations of trainees for judges and prosecutors
already passed the professional training of the Academy and
were appointed in the judiciary.
In the fght against corruption, effective progress was made
with concrete results and convincing track-records.
Comprehensive reform of the administration adoption
of new laws on administration and general administrative
Publishing of the Review of the implementation of the
Ohrid Framework Agreement, which guarantees wide and
strong protection of minorities, as a unique model in wider
Conduction of Local elections in 2013, in line with inter-
national standards, and in a transparent and competitive
Measures to improve the labor market, to reduce unemploy-
ment and improve the business environment.
The progress made by the Republic of Macedonia in view of
fulllment of the Copenhagen political criteria as well as with
regard to the overall reform endeavor was acknowledged by
the European Commission in 2009, and has been repeatedly
conrmed since. Still, the political decision by the European
Council to open accession negotiations with the Republic of
Macedonia has not been taken.
The Copenhagen criteria have given a clear guideline to where
an aspirant country should be headed on its path to EU mem-
bership. That can be demonstrated through a simple math equa-
The latest Spring Report of the European Commission, in April
2013, conrmed again that Macedonia continued to make
progress in the key reform areas and in the good neighborly rela-
tions, thus continuing to fulll all necessary criteria for opening
accession negotiations. For the sake of the credibility of its com-
mitments, Macedonia is fully prepared to enter the decisive stage
of the journey to EU membership.
Challenges still lay ahead. Starting accession talks can only facili-
tate addressing these challenges and help the country to advance
in the fulllment of all necessary criteria. Macedonia has no
alternative but to follow the path towards EU membership. It is
the path that has been paved for the last 20 years and the one that
has the consensual support of all political subjects, as well as the
unwavering support of the citizens. The start of the EU accession
negotiations with Macedonia is only a logical continuation of
EUs commitment for peaceful integration of Europe as a whole.
It is a European value that all open issues and differences should
be resolved through dialogue pursued with mutual respect and
condence, respecting democratic principles and human rights.
Acting in the spirit of the European principles and respecting
mutual sensitivities, the Republic of Macedonia remains com-
mitted to building a common European future with all neigh-
Moving forward in a region characterized with extremely sensi-
tive issues, Macedonia has made a great leap from a post-conict
stabilization to pre-accession. After 20 years of difcult transi-
tion, series of regional instabilities and wars, internal conict
in 2001, the conclusion of the Ohrid Framework Agreement
and constitutional changes, EU accession and the Copenhagen
criteria have positively contributed to this process.
By Ivan Vejvoda, Vice-President of the German Marshall Fund of the United States
The post-World War II project of securing long-lasting peace
and stability on the European continent is alive and well. The
European Unions soft power works in the Western Balkans.
Its magnetic attraction is helping the countries of the region
embark on and persevere in the arduous endeavour of wholesale
change, post-conict reconciliation and democratic and market
This year of 2013 marks several important anniversaries. We are
here today to celebrate the formulation and enshrining of the
Copenhagen Criteria that became the framework for the acces-
sion of post-communist countries to the European Union.
It is also the tenth anniversary of the milestone June 2003 Thes-
saloniki summit that had opened the path to the accession of
the countries of the Western Balkans after the 1990s, a decade
of violent conict, and devastation. The promise of enlargement
was set in stone as a rm commitment on the part of the EU for
those who met the Copenhagen criteria and who were ready to
reconcile and move forward each on their own merit.
But during this year we also sadly commemorate 10 years since
the assassination of the Prime Minister of Serbia Zoran Djind-
jic, one of the regions foremost democratic European leaders.
Prime Minister Djindjic, whom I had the honour to work
with, was one of the key architects of the peaceful, non-violent,
electoral victory over Slobodan Milosevic. Djindjic, a true
statesman, committed European, forward-leaning, bold and en-
ergetic knew that Serbia and the region of the Western Balkans
had lost precious time while other countries of the post-com-
munist world were returning to Europe at a sustained pace
after the epoch-breaking year of 1989 and the fall of the Berlin
Zoran Djindjic realized that we all in the region needed to make
up for the lost time by speedily enacting reforms and setting
forth on the path of creating the institutional basis of a demo-
cratic political culture, the guarantee of stability and peace. The
European Union, both peace project and stable institutional
framework was the indispensible friend and ally in the search
for stable democratic ground and in the process of deep-seated
democratic reforms.
Today the Western Balkans are the last unintegrated part of core
geographical Europe. No one questions whether the Western
Balkans are part of Europe or not. After the enlargement of
2004 this region became completely surrounded by both the
European Union and NATO member countries. In fact the
Western Balkans are now geographically inside the EU thus at
this point in time it is a question of how quickly the countries
that compose it can full the Copenhagen criteria and resolve
their outstanding issues and move towards full membership.
If there is any need for proof that the soft power of Europe is
effective then the best possible proof is most certainly the agree-
ment reached on Friday April 19 between the prime ministers
of Serbia and Kosovo, Ivica Dacic and Hashim Thaci, and their
This agreement is in so many ways a cardinal historical step. It
is a true breakthrough in resolving one of Europes territorial-
historic-ethnic challenges of which there have been so many in
and goal of joining a Europe whole, free and at peace has led to
a strong dynamic of regional cooperation which is an essential
component of each countrys foreign and security policy. In fact
the intensity of regional cooperation in all walks of life is an
unsung story. The Regional Cooperation Council based in Sara-
jevo, successor of the Stability Pact created in 1999, fosters these
post-conict condence-building measures by helping re-estab-
lish economic, social, political commercial, cultural, security
links. There is in fact a dense network and web of many bilateral
as well as multilateral initiatives that reinforce this dynamic. The
models of Nordic cooperation and Visegrad 4 are in many ways
inspirations to be replicated.
It should be underscored that with a large part of the world in
economic throes, and the EU confronted with its greatest chal-
lenge ever, does not facilitate the task of enlargement from either
end, nor for the aspirant countries, nor for the mother ship that
is the EU.
There is much talk about fatigue coming from many quarters.
And yet the process of enlargement continues. The publics of
the region continue to believe in the safe haven of Europe not-
withstanding what they themselves see as a crisis of the eurozone
and a deep-seated debate about the future of EU governance and
of the EU itself. The reason for this is that the public opinions
of the countries of the Western Balkans have the positive and
deep common sense that it is better to join the club of half a
billion people than to stay as small and impoverished countries
outside the European family. They realize that by joining the EU
they would simply have a little more certainty, security, predict-
ability and a little more prosperity than were they to stay outside
and all this in spite of the on-going crisis.
The economic crisis is clearly affecting the member states as
well, and it is understood that it is no easy task to explain that
the enlargement should be continued when hardship, rising
unemployment and falling standards of living are in many of
these countries a daily experience. In this situation it behoves the
leaders of Europe and of its member states to show the path for-
its history. The agreement is tantamount to the Good Friday
agreement of 1998 reached between the British and Irish gov-
ernments over the issue of Northern Ireland. And yet we know
that it took another nine years, until 2007, to achieve the full
power sharing agreement in the Northern Ireland Assembly
Government in Belfast to nally lock in the solution.
The role played by the EU, in the guise of Lady Catherine
Ashton, was fundamental in achieving the good Friday agree-
ment between Belgrade and Pristina which opened the next set
of doors in their forward movement. Lady Ashton persevered,
with prudence and acumen, through 10 rounds of negotiations
rmly believing that the stakeholders were capable of courageous
statesmanship that would ultimately lead them to a historical
compromise. There was of course nothing simple or straightfor-
ward in such a negotiation.
Considering previous European historical timelines, reconcili-
ation and democratic processes in the Balkans are moving at
a steadfast pace in large part due to the existence of the EU.
These are post-conict societies in search of stability, security,
peace and prosperity, and the existence of the European peace
project at their doorstep is both an incentive and promise of
peace and stability. What happened in former Yugoslavia dur-
ing the 1990s, the violent breakdown, should not have hap-
pened in Europe at the end of the 20th century and yet it did.
The European Community in spite of all its good intentions
was unfortunately incapable of stopping the descent into the
inferno of conict on European soil at the beginning of the
1990s. After the tragedy and the end of the war in Bosnia and
Herzegovina in 1995, the 1999 NATO intervention and the
fall of Milosevic from power it was left to the EU backed by
the USA to make up for lost opportunities, failed peace-making
attempts, by engaging its soft power and opening the prospect
of full membership.
The elected leaderships in all the countries of the Western Bal-
kans have rmly committed themselves to democratic reforms
and to full EU and Euro-Atlantic integration. This shared vision
The region is a set of communicating vessels and all processes
whether positive or negative reverberate throughout the whole
of the region. The agreement reached between Belgrade and
Pristina, the future membership of Croatia, the progress of
Montenegro will hopefully inspire the leaders and societies in
Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia to make the
important necessary next steps to continue meeting the Copen-
hagen Criteria that were drafted by the European Council in
this city twenty years ago.
Among the member states there are champions who help and
vigorously support the enlargement process. It is essential to
broaden the circle of supporters, but it is ultimately up to the
leaders of the candidate countries and aspiring members to take
the greatest burden of responsibility for democratic reforms in
helping create rule based societies for the good of their citizens.
The great Florentine thinker Niccolo Machiavelli dened
politics as the way in which we use virtu to overcome fortuna, or
how we employ our best abilities to overcome what might seem
our predicament and fate. This requires commitment, perse-
verance and leadership and the understanding of the mutual
responsibility we have toward each other in accomplishing the
goal we have set ourselves of integrating Europe.
ward, because the enlargement process is also about the credibil-
ity of the EU itself, and not only about the countries who have
the desire to join. I see todays event as such a strong gesture of
support to the continuing process of enlargement.

When Croatia joins the EU on July 1st as the 28th member
state this will be the most adamant proof of the Thessaloniki
promise, as will be the further next steps and movement of all
the countries part of the enlargement train. The fact that Mon-
tenegro is already negotiating, that Serbia will hopefully and
most probably get a date to begin accession talks in June this
year is essential for the credibility of the EU and of the enlarge-
ment process, and an incentive for the other countries.
The on-going dynamic or momentum of the process is at the
core of the EUs soft power effectiveness. If there is stagnation
in the democratic reform process or in the EUs pro-active ap-
proach then there is a danger of backsliding and standstill in the
hard work of change and reforms. The fact for example that
Macedonia still faces the unresolved name issue with its neigh-
bour Greece, and the fact that it has been an EU candidate un-
able to engage in accession talks is neither good for the country
nor for the stability and security of the region as a whole.
Brussels, Schuman Roundabout. The massive European Com-
missions steel-and-glass headquarters looks over a line-up of
waving ags. In the foreground, an old man and a teenager sit
on a bench. For 50 years, the old man declaims, Europe has
meant peace. Arms across his chest, the unperturbed adolescent
stares at an undened point on the pavement before him and
replies: So boring.
It was 25 March 2007, on the ftieth anniversary of the Treaty
of Rome, when this scene appeared as a cartoon in the New
York Times. It is tempting to draw a similar conclusion about
the so-called Copenhagen criteria, the rules dening eligibility
to membership in the European Union, which were adopted
20 years ago next month. In fact, in the midst of the most
severe economic crisis since WW2, it would be justied if
the teenager offered an even more bafed reply: With stub-
bornly high rates of unemployment, social unrest, and growing
mistrust among Member States, has the EU really meant peace?
So precisely at this critical juncture, it is important to reafrm
the EU enlargement as a milestone in the creation of modern
European peace.
Its a story that we should never tire to retell. For the Copenha-
gen criteria are not just another piece of legalistic jargon, but
possibly the most consequential codifcation of a transition to
market-based liberal democracy. Adopted just over a year after
the dissolution of the Soviet Unionjust as a reference point,
Russian troops were still occupying the Baltic Statesthe Co-
penhagen criteria offered an unmistakably bold symbolism. The
ambition of the EU to accompany the economic and political
transformation of a country testies to Europes most extraor-
By Fabrizio Tassinari, Danish Institute for International Studies
dinary power, that of attraction. Here was, at last, a chance for
Europe to emerge, free of the straightjacket of the superpowers,
away from the shadows of its past, and ready to dene a vision
about its future.
The expansion of the EU to the former communist nations of
Central Europe was not a foregone conclusion. The wisdom of
that choice, as well as of the reunication of a powerful Ger-
many at the heart of the continent, was questioned in several,
authoritative quarters. But thanks also to unwavering and vital
support of the United States and to the parallel expansion of
NATO, the EU effectively concluded that its long-term security
would be guaranteed not by sealing its border and erecting
barriers, but by opening up. By setting in motion the enlarge-
ment process, the EU chose to bet on one of our most profound
civilizational instincts, namely that our ability to trade and move
and join forces among free societies is the best way to bring
about stable peace. Last years Nobel Prize award is meant to
acknowledge just that.
With the Unions two other great achievements, the single cur-
rency and the area of free movement of people, under severe
strain, the accession of ten former communist satellites to
the EU is more than a foreign policy success. In retrospect, it
may be correct to regard it, as the Polish commentator Pawel
Swieboda has done, as a zenith of the EU project so far. But to
say zenith is also to acknowledge that the Eastern enlargement
contains the seeds of its own decline. Already one year after the
expansion, the French people rejected the Constitutional Treaty,
ostensibly in fear of being ooded by hordes of Polish plumb-
ers. The EU then entered into one of its recurrent phases of
reform and buries merit. An effective civil service is not only
about cutting red tape; it provides predictability to the political
system and continuity to policy-making.
But of course, excessive reliance on Eurocrats is not neces-
sarily good. All policy measures are inherently political, to the
extent that they reect some kind of vision about the organiza-
tion of society. The more a bureaucrat becomes impermeable to
democratic accountability, the weaker are the credentials of the
political system. If anything, the post-2008 nancial maelstrom
has applied a litmus test to this democratic decit. In Europe,
we have gotten used to the stubborn insistence on austerity and
structural reforms. But it is the surveillance of these policies
by the non-elected bodies of the Troika that constitutes a very
concrete application of bureaucratic leadership. While the suc-
cess of these measures has varied greatly across countries, few
Eurocrats have so far questioned either the diagnosis or the cure
to Europes ails. As Bulgarian scholar Ivan Krastev has noted,
the crisis is heralding an age in which policy, in particular
economic policy, is gradually being taken out of the democratic
As in all other aspects of European integration, this brings us
back to the role of citizens. In the enlargement process, the
normalization between Kosovo and Serbia is historic, not only
because Baroness Catherine Ashton patiently and successfully
mediated a diplomatic breakthrough. It is because a matter of
so profound implications and with such a long, tragic history
is being resolved by democratically elected governments, which
will be judged by voters for their actions. Similarly, any further
progress in the enlargement, in the Balkans and beyond, will be
measured not only by whether a government has ticked a box in
the Commissions progress report, but by the concrete benets
EU integration deliver to citizens, including their ability to
travel more freely to Europe.
The point is ultimately about rediscovering the original sources
of democratic representation and pluralism throughout Europe.
It is about reconnecting our political traditions to our quest for
introspection. This time it was also triggered by inevitable, if
rather circular, debates about the Unions absorption capacity
to take in new members, challenged especially by the opening
of the accession negotiations with a large, poor and Muslim
country such as Turkey.
Make no mistake: Twenty years since the adoption of the
Copenhagen criteria, and almost a decade since the Big Bang
enlargement towards Central Europe, the Union is still making
great strides with its enlargement policy. Other interventions
at this conference testify to the strategic centrality of the EU
in the Balkans, a region where Europes ambitions overlap with
its responsibilities and culpable inaction during the 1990s. Few
can disagree, however, with the fact that beyond the Balkans the
enlargement process is drawing to a close.
There are several factors to account for this state of affairs. One
is physiological, for the Union can quite simply not expand
indenitely. Parallel to the enlargement process, the EU has long
had in place instruments to deal with its closest neighbors in
the East and in the South. But the dilemma of how to maintain
the level of attraction for countries such as Ukraine, Moldova
or even Morocco, without the lure of membership has not been
resolved yet. The Unions attractiveness is also challenged by the
rise of Asian powers, which have a more favorable demographic
and economic outlook than ours.
Even so, the most gargantuan challenge facing the EU, in the
enlargement and far beyond it, is inherently political. Ironically
for a process of transition towards democracy, the EU enlarge-
ment is also steered by institutions whose democratic legitimacy
is, for better or worse, always put in question. While national
governments can inject (and take away) political energy to the
process, the European Commission is the high priest of good
governance. Its impartiality, competence and organization is
almost religiously revered in the candidate countries, and with
good reason. As someone hailing from the proigate south of
Europe, Im painfully aware of the damage inicted by poor gov-
ernance, where an endemic form of political patronage blocks
reminder of the enduring power of this logic, not only to those
nations aiming to join the EU, but also to those that are already
in it.
security, in its widest sense. It is about rekindling the founda-
tional nexus between liberal democracy and peace in Europe.
Celebrating the Copenhagen criteria should above all serve as a