27, 491m.

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!

7 thoughts on “27, 491m.

  1. despite numerous remaining doubts about the countries’ ability to cope with the administrational demands of the EU

    If the US can deal with the implications of having Mississippi as a state, surely the EU can manage the membership of Bulgaria.

  2. I’m surprised not to see this news on this blog:

    http://www.rgemonitor.com/content/view/170437/108/
    “””
    The Eurozone and the USA both have a population of almost exactly 300 million. But given that the hundred-dollar bill is the currency unit of choice in countries with less-than-stable currencies of their own, it’s hardly surprising that there are a lot more paper dollars in circulation than there are paper euros.

    Except it now looks as though the euro has overtaken the dollar: Ralph Atkins reports in the FT that the value of euro notes looks like it’s going to hit $800 billion at present exchange rates, overtaking the $759 billion of dollar notes in circulation.

    I can think of five main reasons:
    […]
    “””

    Dollar is now #2 banknote-wise.

  3. Despite the stereotypes, none of the US’s fifty *states* are actually horrendously poor. However, the distribution of wealth within most US states is a lot more unequal than in most European countries, and US states tend to be more specialised than European countries, so they can be hit harder by industry-specific recessions.

    The prospects for future expansion look gloomy now, and we’re very unlikely to see any more before 2010. But I don’t know about beyond that, because attitudes can change a lot in 3 years. For example if you rewind 3 years to the period in which the constitution was being drafted, the mood was sunny and people were making all sorts of grand predictions about the ‘European century’. Pro-European ambitions have suffered a major ‘correction’ in the style of the dot-com bust, but that doesn’t mean they can’t recover later.

    So my crude prediction is that the EU will have 27 members in 2010 (barring a political earthquake in an existing member state), but will have at least 30 members by 2020 (I reckon at least some of Croatia, Macedonia, Albania, Turkey and Norway will have joined by then, with varying degrees of probability).

    So here’s to the future of AFOE, of Europe and of humanity as a whole.

  4. This year some of the colonies of Holland will be reincorporated into Holland proper (and i assume the EU) so this will not be the last time the EU grows.

  5. “If the US can deal with the implications of having Mississippi as a state, surely the EU can manage the membership of Bulgaria.”

    This is not at all to disparage the membership of Bulgaria, but the analogy to Mississippi is exaggerated. In terms of relative personal incomes, Mississippi stands in relation to the US as a whole in a similar position as Portugal does to the EU.