South Eastern Europe and EU Enlargement Opening remarks
by Mrs. Ramona Calin, Special Advisor to the Regional Envoy for the
Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am especially moved to address you today on European Integration
and South-Eastern Europe. There is some tragedy, yet magic about the
timing of this conference.
Horrific tragedy has somehow bruised the most intimate corners of our
values, and has left the drawers of our intellect, reason, emotions
and belief in some uncalled for space. The grief and anger bestowed
upon the United States and us Europeans alike, in full solicitude with
this grievance, call for a concerted appeal to work effortlessly at
making this world a better place. And here comes magic:
Magic concerns our proven strength for reconstruction. 56 years ago,
the Second World War ended with the defeat of the worst evil our European
soil has ever seen. Five years later, Robert Schuman presented a plan
we still consider the founding stone of European integration. A year
ago, Minister Joska Fischer lay before us his personal blueprint for
a federal European Union. Placing those three events side-by-side will
convince the most hardened skeptic how far we have traveled during these
It is not only those who remember the apocalyptic days of the World
War whom will have little doubt about this distance. Most of us, younger
than fifties, feel this fifty -six years of European construction in
And yet, euro-enthusiasm is not the order of the day.
East and West, North and South of the European Union, the integration
project is up for critical debate.
There are positive reasons for encouraging this creative ferment. There
are three months to go before the Euro notes will be used for the first
time in the Euro-zone. Ten months to go before the envisaged date of
closing negotiations with the most advanced future new members. Sixteen
months to go before the European Union will have at its disposal a sixty
thousand-strong rapid reaction force.
All these represent momentuous developments that would make the founding
fathers most proud of their heritage. At the same time, the European
Union has been better at forging ahead with new projects, rather then
at selling them to the public. It is difficult to put the blame on the
shortcuts of political marketing alone.
The European Union is not and will not be an easily sellable product.
And this, for several reasons. The most obvious one, European integration,
is a constant search for middle ground. It does not go beyond what some
members see as a red light. A good example of that is the Niece treaty.
As a result, we are still searching for a magic formula to make our
citizens embrace the European Union the way they once embraced the nation-state,
that is, as a normal arena of political debate.
The post-Niece discussion began before ink dried under the new Treaty.
The scale of the debate is a new phenomenon, and one that we should welcome very strongly. What is also new is that the discussion is solely devoted to governance. We are not talking about new projects. The ones on the agenda – like
1. the monetary union,
2. enlargement or
3. security and defence policy – are challenging enough. We are
discussing the way the European Union is
4. governed and the way citizens can make an impact. I am confident
that this discussion will lead to a better functioning and better understanding
of the European Union.
Addressing you with my hat of the Regional Envoy for the Stability
Pact for South Eastern-Europe, I must speak in several (tongues, if
you want to use biblical language) languages. More precisely, eleven.
And before further debate, I would like to remind you that the core of our activities is geared towards maintained progress via European integration. Our efforts are therefore focused on three main areas:
1. democracy and human rights,
2. economic reconstruction and development and
3. security issues.
The European Union, the Group of 8 and other international organisations
have already given 2.4 billion Euros last year at the Stability Pact
Regional Funding Conference. Thus, 75% of the major construction projects
are underway. We will held a new Regional Conference on assistance and
reform in Bucharest, on October 24th -25th . We will then reassess regional
assistance and make plans for 2002. We have already been successful.
The Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe pleads to remain the main
engine to rev-up regional co-operation. I do not, unfortunately have
the satisfaction to state that many of the countries in the Pact are
near to closing negotiations with the European Union. In fact, Hungary
alone is in this fortunate stage. Moreover, many countries are not even
candidate members. For those, the Pact is the tool, a vital instrument
before they become full-fledged candidates.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
We can not envisage a secure and prosperous Europe with marginal countries
legging at the doors of the Union. Traditionally and historically all
Stability Pact countries belong to Europe. The difficult seven years
experienced by the countries of the former Yugoslavia and their neighbours
are coming to an end.
The Stability Pact takes a big responsibility upon itself to foster regional economic projects aimed at developing the region. Same goes for spreading successful democratic projects from a country to another. We must work together to strengthen “the soft belly of Europe”.
Gone are those days when we could have spoken of European integration
in strictly economic terms. We are now in the political phase of integration.
The European Union needs to be firmly anchored on a reservoir of values
to which all member states pay heed. It needs to give protection to
the rights of individual Europeans.
Candidate states face a challenge that often escapes the attention
of EU decision-makers. It is trying to explain European politics to
our public. It is trying to ensure that the parliaments are more than
mere voting machines, taking in EU legislation without much of a debate.
It is trying to prevent the import of a democratic deficit from the
European level. Therefore the debate on the future Europe remains a
timely one. It attracts much attention from the side of the public.
The tools and the paths of reaching a political union, should in my
view be one of the main topics for discussion. Such a dialogue would
look at the nerves of policy making in the European Union. It would
get down to the essence of the democratic mandate for decisions taken
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The starting point for discussing political union lies in the member
states themselves, old and new. They will, in my view, remain the primary
source of legitimacy of European integration in the foreseeable future.
Whether we shall have a federation of European nation-states in twenty-year
time or not, will depend on a number of factors. Above all, however,
it will depend on the extent to which we will foster political unity
at the EU level. In my view, the way to achieve this is three-fold.
1. First, we need to start with bringing European policies closer home.
European issues are generally not very different from domestic ones.
We should therefore draw a less rigid distinction to our citizens between
the EU level and the home territory. There can not be democracy at EU
standards, before EU policy is not debated thoroughly by nations.
2. Secondly, more needs to be done to instill political will in promoting
more investment in the less advanced countries of South Eastern Europe.
3. And thirdly, public awareness: In one of his latest debates, Romano
Prodi, stated that the most difficult problem lying ahead the EU integration
process, the only one in reality, is public opinion. At the level of
the EU countries, it further weakens, as in the case of this year’s
Irish referendum. The most worrisome issue for member countries seems
to be immigration. But as Mr. Prodi himself, a strong advocate of enlargement
looks at immigration, “fluxes will lessen when people will find
hope, when they start understanding that their lives improve due to
foreign investment and domestic growth”.
The horrific cross-Atlantic tragedy is going to bring us all closer
It already has. In the perspective of European integration, it should represent a call to both candidate countries that are behind and non-candidate countries with a European vocation to work harder at harmonising their standards to European ones. It should be a plea to the advanced countries, which are soon joining to share their success with their neighbors, which are behind, in terms of promoting more regional projects as a common cause. It should remind European Union countries that together, we are stronger and political premises should be taken into consideration equally with economic ones. Europe should be home to capital markets, not capital societies!
It is of steady importance that candidate countries are debating the
future of the European Union hand in hand with the current members in
a fora such as today’s. The past had us together. Today, the future
is uniting us already.
Let’s make tomorrow unite us, as well!
Thank you for your attention.