Europe, look out­ward again...and again...and again

This will clearly be a sig­nif­i­cant oc­ca­sion to turn around the in­ward-look­ing ten­den­cies of re­cent years and re­vi­talise the vi­sion of an open Europe.

The Pak Banker - - Editorial5 - Carl Bildt

Euro­pean Union en­large­ment, the trans­for­ma­tion of a mainly Western Euro­pean Club into a truly panEuro­pean Union, has been one of the EU's great­est suc­cess sto­ries. But the his­toric mis­sion to bring fur­ther sta­bil­ity, democ­racy and pros­per­ity to the whole Con­ti­nent is not yet fin­ished.

On Mon­day (to­day), we will meet our col­leagues from around the Euro­pean Union at the Gen­eral Af­fairs Coun­cil in Brus­sels to set out per­spec­tives for the en­large­ment process and the coun­tries mov­ing down the path to EU mem­ber­ship. This will clearly be a sig­nif­i­cant oc­ca­sion to turn around the in­ward-look­ing ten­den­cies of re­cent years and re­vi­talise the vi­sion of an open Europe. The eco­nomic cri­sis has un­der­lined Europe's need for much greater dy­namism. Emerg­ing from the cri­sis, we can­not af­ford to over­look the op­por­tu­nity of ex­pand­ing the free flow of cap­i­tal, goods, ser­vices and labour.

More­over, EU in­te­gra­tion is about strength­en­ing the rule of law and com­mon Euro­pean val­ues and stan­dards all over the Con­ti­nent. This is ap­par­ent not least in Turkey, where EUin­spired lib­eral re­forms have turned the coun­try into one of Europe's prin­ci­pal growth en­gines.

The cru­cial ques­tion is not whether Turkey is turn­ing its back on Europe, but rather if Europe is turn­ing its back on the fun­da­men­tal val­ues and prin­ci­ples that have guided Euro­pean in­te­gra­tion over the last 50 years.

In some quar­ters there is clearly some anx­i­ety re­gard­ing the con­se­quences of a Turk­ish EU mem­ber­ship. The doubts over ad­mit­ting a large and self-con­fi­dent nation are as ex­plicit now as they were when Bri­tain once ap­plied - fac­ing strong op­po­si­tion from older mem­bers of the club. Voices of op­po­si­tion were also heard when Swe­den and Fin­land knocked on the door to the EU.

Con­cerns are le­git­i­mate - but the counter-ar­gu­ment is clear: New mem­bers can help Europe re­turn to eco­nomic dy­namism and take on its proper weight in world af­fairs. By push­ing prospec­tive can­di­dates to­ward lib­eral re­forms and full re­spect for hu­man rights, the Euro­pean space of sta­bil­ity and growth can ex­pand fur­ther. In the back of our minds we should also re­mem­ber that Turkey, like no other coun­try, has the abil­ity to ad­vance Euro­pean in­ter­ests in se­cu­rity, trade and en­ergy net­works from the Far East to the Mediter­ranean.

The newly re­leased Com­mis­sion En­large­ment Strat­egy clearly shows that the mem­ber­ship per­spec­tive is still a force­ful agent of change.

Fif­teen years af­ter the con­flict in the Western Balkans, all the coun­tries of the re­gion now have a clear Euro­pean per­spec­tive. Turkey is in the midst of a far­reach­ing re­form process. The ap­pli­ca­tion of Ice­land, which is now at the start of its mem­ber­ship ne­go­ti­a­tions, proves that the EU re­mains at­trac­tive all over Europe. Turkey is in a class of its own. It is an in­flu­en­tial ac­tor on the world stage with con­sid­er­able soft power. Its econ­omy is ex­pected to ex­pand by more than 5 per cent this year, com­pared with a eu­ro­zone av­er­age of one per cent. The OECD pre­dicts that Turkey will be the sec­ond-largest econ­omy in Europe by 2050.

Turk­ish en­trepreneurs in Europe al­ready run 40 bil­lion eu­ros worth of busi­nesses and em­ploy 500,000 peo­ple. A Turk­ish econ­omy in the EU would cre­ate new op­por­tu­ni­ties for ex­porters and in­vestors, and link us to mar­kets and en­ergy sources in cen­tral Asia and the near east. So the se­cu­rity and eco­nomic case for Turk­ish mem­ber­ship is strong. That said, if we are all to reap those ben­e­fits, Turkey needs to play its full part. We want to see move­ment on im­por­tant ar­eas of fun­da­men­tal hu­man rights. Eco­nomic re­form must con­tinue and EU sin­gle-mar­ket rules must be im­ple­mented.

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