|The economic impact of EU Enlargement on the Mediterranean partners: opportunities and challenges|
|On 13 December 2003, the European Council meeting in Copenhagen took the historic decision to admit ten new member states to the EU. Enlargement will increase the population of the EU from 380 to 455 million; it will also increase EU GDP by about 6%. It will not only have considerable impact on the EU itself but also on the EU’s relations with its neighbours, including the southern Mediterranean partners (MP).|
While trade liberalisation between the EU and its eastern and southern neighbours started many years ago, accession of the new member states will increase the size of the EU market to which the MP have free trade access in the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements. Conversely, it provides preferential access for the new member states to the southern Mediterranean markets. At the same time, enlargement will generate new challenges for the MP to maintain their competitiveness on EU markets and enhance their attractiveness as a destination for foreign investments. The fast pace of policy and institutional reforms in the EU’s new member states, as well as in the remaining candidate member states, puts pressure on the reform process in the MP as well.
The 7th annual Meeting of Experts on Economic Transition will focus on various channels through which EU enlargement may affect the economies of the Mediterranean partners. It will explore possibilities to strengthen and deepen the Euro-Mediterranean partnership in a post-enlargement setting, using the platform provided by the Association Agreements. Participation is strictly by invitation only.
The Meeting will, for the first time, bring together experts and government officials from the EU’s Mediterranean partners, the new and candidate member states, and the current EU member states. Altogether, 37 countries will be represented in this post-enlargement constellation of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership. It will be a first opportunity for participants from the Mediterranean and the new member states to meet directly. Speakers will include experts from governmental institutions, universities and international organisations.
Brussels,02 19 2003