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Enlarging the European Union: The short-term success of incrementalism and de-politicisation


  • Falkner, Gerda
  • Nentwich, Michael


This paper analyses the most important issues of the EU enlargement process. We first discuss an empirical paradox involved in enlargement: the obvious development of the original European Communities into a Union with important supranational features and ever more policy clout has by no means discouraged aspirant member states. Why is it that more and more states are willing to give up much of their otherwise cherished national sovereignty by joining this Union, knowing that even more sovereignty will be eroded over time? Then we address the major challenges the EU has to face before actually widening any further, in particular concerning financial and institutional issues as well as internal and external boundaries. The concluding section discusses implicit and explicit EU enlargement strategies of past and present times. We argue that there is a danger that the incrementalist and de-politicised character of the recent enlargement (non-)discussions are successful only in the short term while actually being rather dangerous in the longer run.

Suggested Citation

  • Falkner, Gerda & Nentwich, Michael, 2000. "Enlarging the European Union: The short-term success of incrementalism and de-politicisation," MPIfG Working Paper 00/4, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgw:p0002

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    Cited by:

    1. Kochenov, Dimitry, 2005. "EU Enlargement Law: History and Recent Developments: Treaty Custom Concubinage?," European Integration online Papers (EIoP), European Community Studies Association Austria (ECSA-A), vol. 9, April.

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