Letter: Blair can save Europe from nationalists

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Sir: John Lichfield hits several nails on the head in his excellent essay on European Union enlargement to Eastern Europe ("Europe: how the East was lost", 16 December). Unless there is fundamental reform of the EU's institutions and policies, enlargement could be "botched or abandoned".

However, it needs to be spelled out more clearly that it will be the financial cost of enlargement that determines whether the process goes ahead or not.

In Strasbourg recently the European Parliament voted on a Budget Committee report concerning this subject, concluding that if enlargement is to work, current member states must be committed to paying for it. Unfortunately, this means not just reforming the CAP and structural funds, but also facing up to the fact that extra cash needs to be found if the EU budget is to be able to sustain enlargement.

Grandiose political pronouncements in Dublin and elsewhere have failed to answer the real question: what price enlargement? For as long as member states' governments fail to address this issue, any promises they make to the countries of Eastern Europe are empty ones.


Socialist Group Spokesperson on Budgetary Affairs,

European Parliament