Definition of Europe in the 21st Century
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Published: Thu, 10 May 2018
“Europe is ringed – from Kalingrad in the North, to the Caucasus and Central Asia, to the Balkans – by an arc of danger and instability.” (EU Commissioner for external relations Christopher Patten, July 2001).
Does this mean that at the present time ‘Europe’ and the European are one and the same thing?
The European or EU citizen is at the present time becoming synonymous with the definition of the point to where the continent of Europe extends. This seems to be the case with the present reaction to enlargement and the focus on crime from outside the borders of the EU and the fears of crime from the newly integrated countries and from those countries that ring the EU. Enlargement will illustrate the new tiered system in the EU, the newly ascended countries from post-Communist countries, which are viewed as not truly European. Therefore this discussion will illustrate how the definition of what Europe is in the 21st Century has been narrowed from the expanse of the European continent to the membership of the EU; whereby countries are aiming to join this political unit in order to gain legitimacy within the global political and economic structure.
Enlargement – A Case Study of a Narrow Definition of Europe:
Enlargement of the EU is a mixed blessing, because on one hand it is helping to achieve a status of stability and cohesiveness throughout the region. On the other hand, there are concerns that in making the Union larger will in fact de-stabilize the region. This is due to prejudice of certain groups which would have free access in the region, one such group are the Roma Gypsy migrants from Slovakia. In the past few months the newspapers have displayed the concerns of the British public and politicians about these migrants when the nation joins the EU. Therefore this introduces the question whether the EU really respects the integrity of cultural difference? Other problems include the possible de-stabilizing of the economy by incorporating smaller, less affluent countries; marginal and war torn countries; and transitional countries. These countries could also cause the EU problems in regard to its unique approach of ensuring cohesiveness by using the rule of law, because if the EU gets too large it may not be possible any longer to ensure its political and legal stability. Therefore the consistency and coherence that the rule of law ensures is no longer apparent due to the sheer size of the Union. Another problem lies in the fact that smaller nations may not have the legal, political and economic clout to ensure that their agenda is considered. Although previously it has been mentioned that the EU’s rule of law acts as a check and balance to more powerful nations, in truth the original countries in the EU were mainly ex-colonial empires. The newer nations that are joining the EU are akin to colonies of a colonial power, therefore there is an inherent imbalance in the Union.
However in response to the negative effects of the possible de-stabilization of the region, one must consider that in order to join the Union each nation must have fulfilled the Copenhagen Criteria. This criterion states that each joining nation must be:
Be a stable democracy, respecting human rights, the rule of law, and the protection of minorities; have a functioning market economy; adopt the common rules, standards and policies that make up the body of EU law.
The EU paints a very enthusiastic picture of enlargement, where the only outcome of enlargement is beneficial. In truth this is a very lopsided picture because of the public outcry against the possible immigration into the original EU states. This can be seen in the article by Cathy Newman in the Financial Times:
Britain will throw open its doors to workers from the former communist countries joining the European Union on May 1, but those that refuse to get a job will be denied benefits and thrown out, the government has pledged
Tony Blair – after months of pressure from the Tories and the right wing press over fears of an influx of immigrants from the former Soviet bloc – vowed: “If they can’t support themselves, they will be put out of the country.”
This article illustrates the problems that have occurred within one nation over the policy of enlargement. Although the enlargement is supposed to bring together the European region, the public opinion of at least one EU nation is resisting the expansion, in relation to economic migrants – migrants which the nation has traditionally refused asylum applications. However these fears may be unfounded because as Kraus & Schwager argue that increased migration from East to West EU countries would only occur under the fear of rejection to Union membership. In fact they argue that the EU’s expansion will have a beneficial effect on the economy of these smaller nations and this will result in a boost of their economies and job market, hence reducing the amount of migrants from East to West. The conclusion of their article they state that:
Policy makers who are, for whatever reason, reluctant to accept large numbers of immigrants should not feel troubled with enlargement. On the contrary, the prospect of joining the EU may well reduce immigration. The economic and social benefits which probably accrue to Eastern Europe from accession should be presented as a means to reducing the incentives to emigrate. Policies which enhance convergence of income levels in eastern and Western Europe, such as the internal market and, possibly, Structural Funds should be promoted. .. In this process, diverging interests of major EU members have created substantial uncertainty about the date and conditions of accession. It is quite plausible that such uncertainty has raised the fear among potential migrants that accession may fail or be postponed for a long time. According to our result, this may have increased immediate immigration. Thus, if immigration is not desirable, for future accession rounds a straightforward and predictable negotiation process is to be recommended.
Hence Kraus& Schwager argue that the fears of the right, which have been fed to the public through the media, concerning immigration from the East that will de-stabilize the economy, have no place. This is because the possible migrants would prefer to stay in their homeland with a stronger and growing economy rather than move to another nation. However, although these fears may be unfounded the resistance to these new citizens from the Eastern Europe illustrates the possible de-stabilization of the EU politically. In addition to this it causes problems legally because the cornerstone and the uniqueness of the EU lies within the rule of law and one of the most important laws that is upheld is the Free Movement of EU Citizens, which includes their ability to trade, reside and work in part of the EU. Yet, the accession of the new Eastern European nations has heralded blocks to this ability by many of the original and major EU players. In the UK it has caused a debate because the government was going to allow a free movement of possible immigrants but this has been resisted by the right, as well as members of the public. This is illustrated by the arguments of Michael Howard, leader of the Conservative Party:
Mr Howard, seeking to make political capital out of Labour’s discomfort on the issue, will accuse the Government of complacency over the implications of the EU’s expansion in May. This comes as the Government sought to play down fears that Britain would be flooded by migrants seeking work in more prosperous parts of the EU. During a high-profile visit to Burnley, the scene of race riots in2001, Mr Howard will demand that Britain copy the “transitional arrangements” adopted by Germany and France to prevent citizens from new EU members from working there. Mr Howard will say: “The Conservative Party has always supported the enlargement of the EU to take in the former communist countries of Eastern Europe. We continue to do so.”
But he will continue: “Almost every other country in the EU has quite rightly taken the precaution of putting in place transitional arrangements to deal with immigration from the accession countries. It is still not too late for the British Government to put in place transitional arrangements as well. If we were in government, we would do so. The Government has approached this problem in typical fashion. First it failed to address it, then it ignored it, now it is claiming to face up to it.”
In short the cohesiveness that the EU has claimed will occur with the enlargement has not happened in the expected manner. Ever since enlargement there have been a greater amount of problems combating organized crime, because of decreased security, corruption of public officials in favour of organized crime groups in the newly acceded nations and the breaches of human rights in arrests. Therefore this creates problems for combating organized crime with either prisoners being let off on technicalities, the vastness of places to hide decreasing the effectiveness of policing or the police not interested in fighting organized crime. Kennedy has commented that the EU is committed to justly and fairly fighting organized crime within the realms of human rights and justice; however its weakness is that it relies only on specific domestic member state intelligence:
We are being told that Europol and Eurojust – the new European body to strengthen collaboration between justice ministries and prosecution services- will only act on specific intelligence. This is to rely on the integrity of the state and its officials [I]t also means relying on the intelligence of other countries and, as I have said before, we have no idea about how this may be collected and by what standards. Justice does not permit shortcuts, but governments will readily pursue quick and dirty solutions to problems if not kept under scrutiny.
Therefore by purely relying on only specific intelligence this will reduce the effectiveness of the fight against organized crime, especially when there is the added problem of corrupt post-communist regimes that have joined the EU after enlargement; whereby the true European, i.e. the EU citizen needs to be protected especially those original member states which define the true Europe.
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