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UPDATED: 14:46, June 25, 2004
Solana: achievements and prospects of EU enlargement
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May 1, 2004 will witness the largest single enlargement of the European Union in its history: to have ten new members from central and eastern Europe. Dr. Javier Solana has written an article to mark this day of historic significance.

Dr. Solana described it as an "unprecedented historic event" which has scored "unprecedented achievements on all sides". The EU, with 25 members and a population of 450 million, will "represent the biggest and most successful example of regional integration in the world."

The enlargement of EU will strengthen its fundamental principals and objectives. And that, said Dr. Solana, is what the most important meaning of the enlargement lies in.

He praised the new members for their "tenacious commitment, leadership and conviction" on their way to the EU accession. These efforts have turned these nations into "solid democracies and fully functioning market economies in a remarkably short period of time".

He also values EU's effective strategies and commitments to ensure that "the seemingly unattainable goal of reuniting the European continent has been achieved in such a short period of time." He mentioned the pre-accession strategy which offers financial assistance to candidates and the acquis communautaire which were strictly followed through thorough and intensive accession negotiations.

All of these, plus an "invaluable" accession preparation monitoring mechanism, Solana stressed, have guaranteed the successful integration.

Yes the EU represents a "wide-ranging single market", but "accession is more than just about money," Solana told the new members. The experience of his homeland Spain has firmly convinced him of the "positive political, democratic, social and economic change" to be brought about.

The 10 states join when EU is discussing about the constitutional changes. Dr. Solana expressed his confidence on the "necessary political will, responsibility and determination to act in the best interests of the European Union and in the future of Europe" in the drafting of the constitution.

He stressed the importance of observing the existing Treaties before the new constitution is in place.

As for the new membership, Dr. Solana believes the "necessary political determination" will ensure the accession of Bulgaria and Romania in 2007 as scheduled. The EU will also consider the application of Croatia, Turkey and former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Solana reiterated EU's plan of expansion. It will launch "a number of Action Plans in June this year to develop cooperation and encourage reforms in a number of countries" to "promote stability and prosperity beyond the new borders of the Union both to the East and to the South".

The common objective of EU, said Dr. Solana, is to make Europe a continent of democracy, freedom, peace and prosperity. In this sense, he viewed applications for accession as evidence that the Union is "a very attractive club".

"Their arrival serves as a constant reminder of what the Union is all about, diversity in unity." He concluded.

By People's Daily Online

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