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Brussels, 30 April 2014
10th anniversary of 2004 enlargement
On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the 2004 enlargement Štefan Füle, Commissioner in charge of Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy said:
'The 10th anniversary of the 2004 enlargement is a very special moment. I am pleased to join the President who already outlined the successes that enlargement brings. Let me add some more specifics:
Enlargement is in Europe's DNA. It is a key EU policy. It is the most powerful instrument of transformation – it serves as a strong incentive for reforms.
Enlargement is also the most effective and powerful tool we have for strengthening security.
Together – in a united Europe - we can better face the consequences of globalisation, the financial crisis or climate change.
And enlargement has made us all more prosperous. Accession benefited both those countries joining the EU and the established Member States.
Enlargement boosted growth and improved living standards in the acceding countries. It provided new export and investment opportunities for the 15 established members.
Growth in the acceding countries contributed to growth in the ''old'' Member States through increased investment opportunities and demand for their products.
Just some facts to illustrate the developments since 2004:
- the economic dynamism of the then 'new' EU countries generated three million new jobs in just six years from 2002 to 2008;
- German exports to the 12 countries that joined since 2004, have almost doubled since then;
- UK exports grew by approximately 50%;
- for the Netherlands enlargement generated additional income of € 11bn;
- Austria's yearly GDP increased by 0.4% thanks to enlargement since 2004
Enlargement also strengthened the EU globally:
While the EU had 7% share of global population in 2012, our share of global GDP was 23%.
- we are amongst the top 5 best performing economies in the world
- the EU is the largest player on the global trading scene
- the EU is the largest source and destination of the foreign direct investment
And looking forward I see three priorities:
1. continuing the process which we have started four years ago to strengthen the credibility and political side of enlargement and to bring the benefits of enlargement closer to the citizens of the EU countries.
2. to make sure that the two policies which accompanied the EU from the very beginning –enlargement on one side and deepening of the integration on the other side, interact also in the future in a reinforcing way to the benefit of the EU.
3. through enlargement we are becoming bigger and stronger, to be better equipped to face the consequences and use the opportunities of globalisation.
There are 7-8 countries knocking on our doors at a time when some in the EU started to have doubts. It is extremely valuable thing to have countries knocking on our doors. If this knocking stops it might be too late to sound the alarm bells that something is not going right as far as the EU is concerned.
Thank you very much for celebrating with us the 10th anniversary of this big enlargement.'