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Title: Bulgaria and Romania: Second Wave or Second Class?
Keywords: Politics
eastern Europe
Issue Date: 30-May-2013
Publisher: University of Glasgow
Description: On May 1st 2004, the European Union expanded from 15 member states to 25 making it the biggest enlargement since the Union was created. The aspirations of the former communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe to become part of the European family were finally realised. The new member nations now enjoy free movement of capital and labour as well as full access to the European market. Although technically the European Union has enlarged her borders, there still remains an East/West divide. During the Cold War this divide was geopolitical, whereas now it is distinctly economic. This paper will focus on the second wave candidate countries, Bulgaria and Romania, which are set to join in 2007. They will be the poorest countries to join the EU to date and this large economic disparity has detached Romania and Bulgaria from their richer European counterparts, arguably creating an 'underclass.' This divide has been evident in four key areas which will be examined – the costs of the enlargement, public opinion in member states, the negotiation process and the neighbouring relations between members and candidates. The root of the divide is economic yet the paradox is that as long as the EU sustains internal borders based on wealth; cohesion and stability in the EU will be undermined. This in turn may threaten the functioning of the community which could delay Eastern Europe's income convergence with Western Europe.
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