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New report on adapting to the enlargement of the European Union

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A new report written by Helen Wallace, centennial professor in the European Institute|, LSE, explores how the European Union institutions have adapted to the recent enlargements in 2004 and 2007.

The paper, Adapting to Enlargement of the European Union: institutional practice since May 2004, explores the ways in which the EU institutions have adapted to the expansion from 15 to 27 members. The paper draws on evidence that has become available on practice since May 2004 when ten new member states joined, and (to a lesser extent) since January 2007 when a further two states joined. The key finding to emerge from experience so far is that the day to day business of the EU institutions continues to be carried out much as before enlargement, with similar levels of activity and output in and from the main EU institutions. Moreover, there is no evidence so far of a recurrent or polarised cleavage between old and new member states in the development of EU policies. Over the period covered in the paper no Treaty changes have been introduced other than the implementation of the Treaty of Nice, since the Constitutional Treaty stalled in 2005 and its successor the Reform Treaty is due to come into force only in 2009.

The paper concludes that there remains scope for continuing to identify practical and pragmatic ways and means of enabling the EU system through non-treaty reform to perform effectively in the light of enlargement. The changes proposed in the new Reform Treaty can be better understood in terms of wider discussions about the cases to be made for or against altering the way that the EU deals with its policy agenda in the future.

Helen Wallace said: 'Of course these are still early days for assessing the impact of enlargement on the EU institutions, but so far at least there is no evidence of the gridlock that many feared.'

For a copy of the report, see

Press Cuttings

Financial Times
Enlarged EU is coping without treaty, says study
According to a report by one of Europe's leading academic experts on the EU, the main institutions - the council of ministers, European Commission, European parliament and European Court of Justice - are functioning as well as ever and the much-predicted gridlock has not happened. 'established working methods and practices have survived the arrival of new member states,' says Helen Wallace, a professor at the London School of Economics, who wrote the study. 'The evidence of practice since May 2004 suggests that the EU's institutional processes and practice have stood up rather robustly to the impact of enlargement.'

11 December 2007