European integration is the process of economic, legal, industrial, political, cultural and social unification of states in Europe. The integration can be partial or wholly depending on the policies set by the European Union. The integration is very fundamental in the development of different states. However, it also poses threats to countries that are still economically inferior to others. The enlargement of the European integration has several effects on the countries involved. Some of the effects that the European Union will experience are political, economic and social (Cremona, 2003).
The course of political development in post-communist countries of Central Europe (CE) is highly likely to be affected by the enlargement of the European Union (EU). The countries have made great political achievements that have enabled them to be candidates for the EU membership. However, the enlargement of the pan-European Union will have a great impact on the party systems of these nations and the level of consolidations that they have achieved so far would also remain a matter of some conjecture. The enlargement of the European integration would automatically have some impacts on these major features of the post-communist system. However, the establishment of the precise effects of the enlargement of the integration from the changes is not easy.
The enlargement of the European integration would also represent an unprecedented expansion of the association in terms of both territory and population. The countries involved in the integration are poor and with young democratic systems whose consolidation levels are questionable, the integration process would be ineffective in bringing the member countries together. Economically, the enlargement process would change the business environment. The removal of trade barriers provides new market opportunities, facilitates access to new sources for inputs and increases competition on domestic markets (Donnelly, 2010). Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in manufacturing and wholesale trade have been affected by the liberalization of foreign trade. Some industries in the candidate countries will profit from export growth to the EU-15, for instance, wood processing, clothing, and furniture. In general, over 11% of manufacturing SMEs in Europe-19 would experience an increase in turnover due to the enlargement process (Kalotay, n.d.). The enlargement of the integration will also influence the growing wages to reduce labor cost advantages in the candidate in the countries involved and thus negatively affect the position of some labor-intensive industries.
According to a research that was done by Milzow in 2012, 27% of SMEs in Europe think that there will be a positive turnover effect while 14% expect decreasing sales. The enlargement will also enhance the faster exchange of goods between Europe-19 and the candidate countries thus providing more business opportunities for transport firms. The enlargement will initiate construction of cross-border services which will increase competition mainly for micro enterprises in EU-15 regions (Nello, 2013). It would also enhance the member countries to take strategic measures in seizing opportunities or in avoiding risks associated with the enlargement process. Employees from different countries would easily be employed in different countries. According to a research that was carried out by Saurugger in 2014, almost 30% hope that the enlargement of the European integration in relation to the liberalization of labor markets would improve the personnel situation.
However, the enlargement of the European Integration would also pose negative threats to its member countries. It would be detrimental to more advanced countries since there would be a mass movement of people from less developed countries who would be looking for job opportunities in those developed countries. The members of the EU would easily work in other member states under the same conditions as residents of the same country. This would result in overpopulation, scramble for resources and rise of criminal activities. The enlargement would also lead to the creation of policy support that is mainly focused on providing relevant information and managing consultancy. The free movement of workers has been enhanced by the mutual recognition of qualifications (Preston, 1997). However, these rights do not apply to the candidate countries and the presented EU member states. According to a study that was carried out by Usacka in 2001, full integration would only be fruitful when poor countries are put in line with the rich countries. The two convergence model that would be achieved in the enlargement is the Irish model and the Spanish model. However, the two models rely on the assumption that foreign investments enhance modernization of production methods which results in productivity gains.
In summary, the enlargement of the European Integration has several impacts on the member countries. It would allow free movement of goods and services. However, countries that are more developed will be negatively affected since there would be population influx since many employees would migrate to such countries to look for opportunities. Removal of tariffs and barriers would also necessitate trade between the member countries. The small and medium-sized enterprises in wholesale and manufacturing trade would be affected by foreign trade liberalization. Some factories would benefit while others will lose in importation and exportation of goods among the member countries.
Cremona, M. (2003). The Impact of Enlargement: External Policy and External Relations. The Enlargement of the European Union, 161-208. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199260942.003.0007
Donnelly, S. (2010). Constructing Regimes of European Integration. The Regimes of European Integration, 21-36. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199579402.003.0002
Kalotay, K. (n.d.). The Impact of EU Enlargement on FDI Flows. International Finance Review, 473-499. doi:10.1016/s1569-3767(05)06019-x
Milzow, K. (2012). The Eastern Enlargement: Ideals, Interests, and Integration. National Interests and European Integration, 73-124. doi:10.1057/9781137271679_3
Nello, S. S. (2013). EU Enlargement and Theories of Economic Integration. Mapping European Economic Integration, 168-188. doi:10.1057/9781137317360_9
Preston, C. (1997). Enlargement & Integration in the European Union. doi:10.4324/9780203195871
Saurugger, S. (2014). Sociological Perspectives on European Integration. Theoretical Approaches to European Integration, 162-183. doi:10.1007/978-1-137-36724-2_9
Usacka, A. (2001). The Impact of the European Integration Process on the Constitution of Latvia. EU Enlargement, 337-346. doi:10.1007/978-90-6704-449-3_29
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