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Last update: 28 05 2010

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What divides new and old member states in the European Union, 6 years on?

Experts of the European Union shared their views about differences and divides between new and old member states at the Central European University in Hungary. The speakers at the conference ‘Inclusion completed, adaptation successful?’ agreed that the newcomers are not fully equal to the old member states. At the event, co-organized by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) experts and politicians said, there are obstacles to achieve full member status.



Peter Balázs, the Hungarian foreign minister of the resigning government said the “honeymoon” should not be longer then five years. He emphasized, that a country can’t feel new after a complete period of the Commission.


However, according to Hungarian MEP, Enikő Győri from the European People’s Party there are several things which still divide the new and old member states. Enlargement generally was good for the newcomers, she says, but it depends a lot on each the special situation of each country. She thinks there are obstacles in front of the “new” member states to achieve full member state status. For example there is a clear transition period laid down in the Accession Treaties, but the new member states are underrepresented in the positions of the future European External Action Service.


Kai-Olaf Lang, the research fellow of the German Institute for International and Security affairs emphasized that there are perceptions and misperceptions whether the new members states have been seen as “occur partners, aggressive competitors or as active friends.” He thinks there is a value gap between old and new member states they share different values and this is the main thing why we can talk about old and new Europe.  


Enikő Győri tried to answer how to change this present situation where the new and old member states are differentiated. She thinks the key of the success is that the new members states should have good home bases (economic and political background) to achieve efficient interest representation. In addition she emphasized that the Hungarian Presidency “will be a good opportunity to get out of this bad reputation we have in Brussels.”