Since I doubt anyone of the afoe crew will be anywhere close to a computer when it will happen later tonight, this little announcement about the latest and probably last EU-enlargement in a while will have to do for the time being.
At midnight, Bulgaria and Romania will become members of the European Union, increasing the Union membership to 27 countries and 491million people – despite numerous remaining doubts about the countries’ ability to cope with the administrational demands of the EU and the imposition of special obligations and limitations, especially regarding the free movement of labour. Thus, as with the big Eastern enlargement in 2004, some commentators have called this enlargement-round a “second class” enlargement.
Still, that the countries’ accession has caused almost no public debate is probaly a consequence of the limited economic impact the two countries can possibly have, despite low labour costs. In 2004, Bulgaria’s and Romania’s GDP was a mere 0.2 resp. 0.6% of the joint EU-27 GDP.
Then again, on New Year’s Eve, all glasses are half-full and figures like the ones just mentioned only indicate a significant growth potential. Happy New Year!