Enlargement is the EU's most successful foreign policy tool, according to Maria Eleni Koppa and she has big plans for improving it further. In her report the Greek Social Democrat MEP said that accession states should commit to further integration of the EU as well as to gender equality and anti-discrimination. A strategy is also needed to involve citizens more deeply with the enlargement process. MEPs will debate her report today and vote on it tomorrow.
Will the crisis and current efforts to deepen integration at EU level affect the enlargement process?
Europe is at a crossroads because of the economic crisis. When it comes to deepening the EU, we lag behind. We need a Europe capable of receiving the candidate and the potential candidate countries.
Still, enlargement has been the most successful expression of the EU's foreign policy. For me as well as for my group the Social Democrats, it's important to keep the momentum of enlargement going. Enlargement is not over as some states would like to believe. It's an ongoing promise and Europe being a moral power should keep its promise.
You call for greater participation by civil society. Is this to ensure that enlargement enjoys widespread support in the accession countries?
Enlargement has become less and less popular in the member states as well as in enlargement countries. So we need a new communication strategy to bring enlargement closer to the citizens through civil society, NGOs and the trade unions. Enlargement is not about getting agreement at government level but about making citizens feel they are a part of it.
Why do you call in your report for gender equality and anti-discrimination to be given further priority within enlargement policy?
It is a big problem for many candidate and potential candidate countries, but of course we should avoid having double standards. So let's be sure that the things that we ask for from candidates are things that we can guarantee inside the Union. For example, last year we witnessed problems with freedom of speech in a certain member state, which the other member states reacted to.