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Flexibility

Should Member States willing to do so be specifically allowed to integrate their policies further and faster than their more reluctant EU partners? Yes, otherwise the Union should be forever bound to advance at the speed of its slowest members. To some extent, flexibility already exists. Social policy, a single currency arrangement and the Schengen acquis all involve fewer than all fifteen Member States. Moreover, unbalanced economic integration of the EU has been beneficial to its Member States. As long as there is agreement on the goal, we can have flexibility. If there is no common goal we get variable geometry which is widely seen as more dangerous. Flexibility supposes that more slower members will catch up while variable geometry doesn\'t.

Efficiency

Given its enormous significance, the EU is expected to act efficiently. However, relatively small issues may suddenly become big issues in practice. This is illustrated, for example, by the tendency to keep the diversity of the official and working languages of the EU. \'The EU Council of Ministers of 12 June 1995 has not only reaffirmed its firm attachment to Linguistic Diversity, it has also decided to set up a commission to check that all the Institutions respect this... The Commission has been invited to make yearly reports on the application of these decisions ...\'xiv The current number of working languages of the EU is eleven. Since EU legislation is directly applicable in the national law, all languages with the official status in one or more of the Member States should be official EU languages as well. This means that there are now eleven official EU languages. With some Eastern Bloc countries joining the number will increase to sixteen or more which, in my opinion, will be virtually unworkable. This will only contribute to the lack of efficiency of the EU. I think it is wise to limit the number of working languages to a minimum of five, although in view of the fact that Council members have never been able to agree on a limit the number of working languages within the institutions, one may expect a continuing debate on this matter.

Conclusion

As we see, the EU is far from being perfect. And it never will, like any other man-made enterprise. But the Union cannot afford to be politically disappointing to its Member States, and especially to the countries which would like to join it. One could always argue that the EU will not benefit from \'the fifth enlargement\' neither politically, nor economically, nor even administratively (since their ability to participate in the management of the EU is doubtful), and that a wider Union means a weaker Union. It is true, but, however, only in the short-run. The EU must upgrade its capacity to respond favourably to the other counties in Europe, otherwise we may find ourselves once again in a divided Europe. Therefore, my suggestion is that the limits of integration of the EU are politically unaffordable, in other words, \'the locomotive of European Integration\' has passed the point of no return and there is no way back. There may be conflicting economic views about the wisdom of European Integration, or a continuing debate over the preservation by certain states of an ideal of national sovereignty, a tension between market Europe and social Europe, but yet despite of all this \'... there appears to be an overall commitment to the process of integration in Europe for a variety of reasons, backed up perhaps by the \'shadow of war\' factor which served as the original stimulus, so that whatever the tensions and differences which exist, the \'journey to an unknown destination\' continues.\'xv

i Nigel Foster. \'EC Legislation\' (Blackstone, 1997), 2

ii Geoffrey Edwards, Alfred Pijpers. \'The Politics of the European Treaty Reform. The 1996 Intergovernmental Conference and Beyond\' (Pinter, 1997), 8

iii Desmond Dinan. \'Ever Closer Union? An Introduction to the European Community\' (Macmillan, 1994), 14

iv \'The new \"1999 Objective\" for the large market without borders submitted by the European Commission to the Amsterdam Summit\' (Bulletin Quotidien Europe No 2039/2040, 12 June 1997), 1

v ibid., 1

vi Geoffrey Edwards, Alfred Pijpers. \'The Politics of the European Treaty Reform. The 1996 Intergovernmental Conference and Beyond\' (Pinter, 1997), 344

vii ibid, 342

viii Geoffrey Edwards, Alfred Pijpers. \'The Politics of the European Treaty Reform. The 1996 Intergovernmental Conference and Beyond\' (Pinter, 1997), 257

ix ibid.

x Ibid, 261

xi Reflection Group 1995; 17 (Ibid, 62)

xii Desmond Dinan. \'Ever Closer Union? An Introduction to the European Community\' (Macmillan, 1994), 3

xiii European Commission 1995:18. Quoted in Geoffrey Edwards, Alfred Pijpers. \'The Politics of the European Treaty Reform. The 1996 Intergovernmental Conference and Beyond\' (Pinter, 1997), 63

xiv \'EU. Frequently Asked Questions\' Edited by Ronald Siebelink & Bart Schelfhout

xv Paul Craig, Grainne de Burca. \'EC Law. Texts, Cases & Materials\' (Clarendon Press - Oxford, 1997), 37