Prof. Turan’s speech at the EMI Montenegro Congress (21-23 November 2013)

Prof Turan stated that the Annual Enlargement Strategy Paper and the Progression reports were prepared at a time where enlargement fatigue, doubts about the economic future, fears for the euro, unsolved unemployment, lower growth rates and fears of deflation casted their shadows on the EU. She explained that we lived at a time when anti EU, anti immigrant parties were on the rise as exemplified by various nationalist parties in the UK, in France, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Italy and Greece who have more and more a say in the making of politics and which all have one point of agreement: a dislike of the EU. This led Prof. Turan to ask the following question: Will these developments make further enlargement more difficult for the three potential candidates and 5 candidate countries?

Looking at the current EU map, Prof. Turan said she saw an enclave within the EU where Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia were in, which was proof that even if their membership could be postponed to a later date such as 2016 or 2017, they would inevitably and with no doubt become future members of the EU.  Within this enlargement package two more countries take place she said: Iceland way up north acting more like Norway, and Turkey in the deep East which will remain on the waiting list for some more undetermined time.

Not wishing to reflect on the annual enlargement strategy paper nor on the progress reports since each year the EU Commission adopted such a package to which Prof. Turan agreed with what it hailed as well as what it criticized, she said she would discuss and question two aspects of the EU which she called the enlargement enigma and the EU enigma.

Prof Turan said that the expansion confronts the EU with an enlargement enigma since as it expands the EU becomes more heterogeneous. Yet the vision of ever deepening integration calls for homogenization on the economic, political and even if it is not always openly said on the socio-cultural front. On the political front political regimes defined as a democracy is emphasized. It is a regime where freedom of expression and other individual liberties exist without impinging on the rights of others. On the economic front economies operating in a liberal economic order is wished for and it befalls on the countries wishing to become EU members to work to achieve these goals under the guidance of the EU institutions. Prof. Turan explained that on the economic front the adjustment seems to be quicker than on the political front. Referring to the ratings on political rights and civil liberties as measured by Freedom House, she explained that if aspiration to the highest possible democratic standards and practices are the goal, then much has to be done in both the candidate and potential candidate countries. She then stated that on the socio cultural front it was her opinion that all EU members should accept cultural differences as such and not expect homogeneity. Existing values and beliefs should be respected and understood as the cultural richness of the countries in question. Viewing the EU for example as a Christian club she said was discriminatory since it implied differentiation on the basis of religion and national origin.

Prof Turan went on saying that the EU itself could be viewed to-day as an enigma since what awaits it, where it goes, where  the six Balkan countries will fit in the system, what will happen to the membership of the UK, Iceland and Turkey were as yet unanswerable questions. She went on discussing that a close look at present day EU in the aftermath of the economic crisis showed that the EU did not form  as yet have a true genuine political union, did not have strong supranational institutions, an empowered European Parliament. She quoted Jürgen Habernas who had said that the EU was a technocratic federal system with the reins held by the European Commission. She said we faced an EU to which transferring more power was contested. She stated that a multi tier Europe existed. Members of the Euro-area group seemed to operate on their own mostly through intergovernmental treaties with limited role given to EU institutions, that there were talks about instituting their proper organs, euro zone institutions shadowing existing EU ones. Thus we have one group that shares a single currency with all not expected to join as in the case of the pre-ins and outs. Not all participate in the Schengen area of borderless travel, military missions are run by just a small group of EU countries, smaller countries cluster together to have greater say in meetings such as the Benelux countries, the Vizi grad group. She added that if most of the political differences existing among the 6 west Balkan countries were to be resolved it would be to their advantage to do the same.

Why the clustering, why the three tier EU she asked and explained that in times of crisis trying to solve problems by changing the EU treaty is not a likely situation since you need the agreement of all members . Some of these members need to hold a referendum and most probably reaching a consensus would prove difficult. This is why a second way of doing things has developed. By using the clause of enhanced cooperation that allows for decisions within what the EU treaty allows, new policy tools have developed. These enabled the EC to scrutinize national budgets, give guidance and penalties to members violating budget or debt criteria’s. Since these decisions would be binding for all they are not en vogue she said. Thus a third way of doing things has developed in the EU: intergovernmental treaties signed among members of the euro zone.

Prof Turan concluded her talk by asking one final question: What do these developments result in and what are their implications for the applicant countries. She pinpointed that:

1. A deepening integration within the EU zone where the euro zone becomes the central actor will be considered as a de facto exclusion for those that are not in.  And that

2. This would lead to a separation by thicker walls between the euro zone and the non members of the euro and the applicants. The greater the deepening integration the more difficult for pre ins and candidates to become member of the zone. This will imply harsher conditions to be required from candidate countries and greater disillusionment for second class marginalized members and applicants.

Prof. Turan finally wondered whether the supranational dream of a European federation would be replaced by greater intergovernmentalism and whether the rift between the ins, the pre ins and the outs would become deeper causing greater differentiation between core euro zone members and the others. She said that time would tell.