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Koprivshtitsa in Bulgaria. Photo: Alan Grant

Koprivshtitsa in Bulgaria. Photo: Alan Grant

The great debate on Europe's borders

May 2009

A revolution has taken place in Europe over the past decade - the transformation of ten post-communist states into full-fledged members of the European Union. While the outcome of that revolution was celebrated with fireworks and speeches on 1 May 2004 (and on 1 January 2007 in Romania and Bulgaria), the details of the transformation process have gone largely unexamined by the broader policy and development community.

For those countries aspiring to eventually accede to the European Union, there are still huge challenges ahead. It is clear they have to change dramatically in order to be able to join the EU. But are the EU's pre-accession tools powerful enough to help these countries to accomplish these tasks? What evidence supports the arguments of enlargement sceptics? Will public debates on enlargement in different European societies constitute insurmountable obstacles? What would be the price of an enlargement stop?

It was to address these questions that we decided to develop a special portal on EU enlargement and a substantive ESI research program supervised by ESI deputy chairman Kristof Bender.

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