Eastern enlargement of the European Union : "historically unique" or "heavy burden"
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This study analyses the possible costs and benefits of the enlargement of the European Union towards the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The dissolution of the Soviet Union, thus the break up of the Warsaw Pact and Comecon as well as the fall of the Berlin Wall marked the end of a historical era in Europe. From then on, Europe is no longer divided into two poles in terms of ideological differences. With this historical change in the political and ideological structure, there appears an opportunity to establish a new European order. This thesis argues that enlargement of the European Union towards the east seems to be a step towards creating security and stability beyond the present borders of Europe. Each enlargement changes the size, geography, composition, scope, and direction of the Union. As has been seen from the previous enlargement processes, the EU acts as a magnet for surrounding states, many of whom have determined that the benefits of membership exceed the costs of nonmembership. Since the EU decides which applicant states join, and under what conditions, it has enormous influence over the fates of nations. This study argues that the coming enlargement seems to be “historically unique” and probably the “largest challenge”, which the Union has ever faced. Therefore, the possible opportunities of enlargement also carry some risks as well as political challenges. A complete integration of the countries from Central and Eastern Europe with the European Union will probably be another momentous process in those countries’ history after their withdrawal from the Soviet sphere of influence.