The paradox of EU enlargement and member states' policies: Dilemmas and challenges: The case of Portugal

Santos Neves
2016 Megatrend Revija  
The paper addresses the issue of EU enlargement with its dual nature: of an intra-EU process, related to the consolidation of a democratic-peace based on collective security, and an external process, involving EU foreign policy and impact on relations with other major global players. Although enlargement is a multidimensional process that combines different perspectives -candidate countries' enlargement politics, member states' politics/policy, EU enlargement politics and external global impact
more » ... ernal global impact -the paper focuses on Member States policies towards enlargement by looking at the case of Portugal, in particular in relation with the Big Bang Eastern enlargement, and aims at explaining the paradox of Portugal's strong political support to enlargement while it was one of the main potential losers in terms of economic interests. A " foreign policy analysis" framework is adopted in order to understand the process of decision-making and the interaction between the domestic and the EU levels. The argument put forward is that an exclusive constructivist approach does not provide a satisfactory explanation, as there was also rationalist-interest logic at play. The Portuguese policy towards enlargement was determined not only by the "solidaritysimilarity" logic, dominant in the formal political discourse but also by the consideration of long-term interests in the EU related to the preservation of the strategic alliance with Germany. The overall systemic impact of enlargement tends to weaken the EU as it presents a major paradox functioning as a double-edged sword. While it has a positive impact by contributing to the enhancement of the EU international profile as it grows in size raising expectations about its potential global role, it also leads to greater heterogeneity, undermining the EU cohesion and its ability to act together with a single voice becoming a robust global player, thus frustrating the expectations raised in the first place.
doi:10.5937/megrev1603263n fatcat:j44nmgea7bfd5mr74lbtyg4fwy