For several years now the European Union is discussing a possible enlargement, because several European countries have applied for membership in the EU. These are especially the former communist countries in Eastern Europe, that have clearly turned towards the west since the fall of the iron curtain. These countries are Bulgaria, the Baltic countries Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Hungary. Additionally Turkey, Cyprus and Malta are trying for quite some time already to join the EU. These application are not to be accepted without any further consideration because they do bring along some risks and the consequences are hard to distinguish therefore these countries are not very likely joining the European Union in the near future and will therefore not be included in the following evaluation.
II. Risks and challenges
If one wants to evaluate the risks and challenges of an upcoming expansion of the EU one should first take into account experiences gained during previous expansion which were somewhat comparable. Here the southern expansion from 1986 should be mentioned where two economically weak countries sought admission to the then so called European Community. The admission procedure of these two candidates, being Spain and Portugal, were lengthy and considered very problem bearing. Especially the amount of produce that would add to the already existing agricultural over-production of the Community was seen to be a problem since it would increase the load on the European budget. But seen from a global economical perspective the joining of Spain and Portugal was overall positive for the EC and the two countries, although Spain struggled with a further rise of unemployment and disparities within the Community were further amplified. The disparities within the Union will most certainly increase when it comes to an eastern expansion, but the agricultural problem will not be an issue, because the candidates have not got their focus on agriculture, already because of their communist heritage which focused on industry rather than on agriculture or the tertiary sector. In case of the approaching expansion towards Eastern Europe the Union will have to resolve several problems, the most severe being without any doubt the financial one that will go along with the extension, estimated to be 5 - 6 billion annually, just for the technologically underdeveloped agriculture in the new member states. The financial problem will also lead to a temporary discontent among the population of the existing members, since the financial load on the countries will cause budget cuts because the new members will undoubtedly belong to the payees rather than the payers. Especially the Mediterranean members, for instance Italy, Spain etc. fear cuts in their subsidies particularly the agricultural ones, and agriculture is already making up the biggest part of the EU's budget. Of course it is also to be questioned whether with the joining of economically weak countries the economies of the "richer" members are not weakened. What should be taken into consideration as well is the impact the joining will have on the population of the candidates, especially considering the rights they will gain when they are citizens of the European community. They do then have the right to settle and work anywhere within the community, this could lead to a large amount of people pouring into the old member countries trying to seek work there and make their living. And since most of the European countries are already struggling with high unemployment the high rates could be pushed up further and the discontent among the population could worsen, especially against the background of Neo-Nazis in Germany and other countries such as Britain or Italy. Off course this would only be a temporary problem, which would solve itself over time as the...