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Belgium: If the Enlargement Process Is Broken, Then Fix It

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In closing the last millennium, Belgium’s position was reflected in a joint declaration (along with France and Italy) annexed to the Maastricht Treaty, stating that ‘the strengthening of the institutions is an indispensable condition for the conclusion of the first accession negotiations’. In the spring of 1999, the country’s support for enlargement was the lowest of the then 15 Member States, with only 28% of citizens in favour, compared to 63% in Sweden (the highest) and a European average of 42%.

The government was portraying accession as a global process, but one in which each application would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis according to objective criteria. It stressed that it was less a ‘negotiation’ than a ‘discussion’, with the acquis to be accepted and implemented in full. Real efforts were expected to ensure this convergence, without any deadline being set for its completion. Of course, the Union would also have to prepare itself by adapting its institutional, political and financial frameworks.


The rest of this article can be found on the TEPSA website.


(Photo credit: Calvin Hanson, Unsplash)