Safeguard and protection – not just of economic systems, but of human rights; that is surely one of the strongest arguments for the existence of the EU, and its continuing expansion. The more it expands, the more nations and people that are taken under protective wings. In the case of the Roma in Italy, it should not necessarily be left entirely to the Italian government to deal with the challenges, since they seem less than capable of doing so in the right fashion.
However, perhaps the case for protecting people suffering falls on deaf ears. We are human after all, and naturally think of our own suffering before others, so when it comes to suffering, in Western countries, more of us think about suffering in economic terms. Therefore when it comes to expansion of the EU, people fear that jobs will be lost to neighbouring nations which have cheaper labor. The Dutch rejection of the vote was partly due to it ‘failing to protect the poor and unemployed,’ which was a thinly veiled argument against globalisation. The Irish rejection was more to do with local antagonisms (which include fears about job security in some form) and lack of understanding when it came to the terms of the Treaty.
However, the facts, at least when it comes to the economics of expansion, according to Eurobarometer, states that only 8% of jobs lost to restructuring in the EU was due to offshoring. Despite 63% of Germans believing expansion was detrimental, the figures show that exports to new member states has been increasing since expansion. People in Spain might be sceptical, but back in 1986 that country gained a lot of funds from the EU, just like Ireland, and now large Spanish construction companies (most of which grew during the inflow of EU money, benefiting from contracts won in that period) are busy bidding for contracts in Poland, continuing to win gains for the Spanish economy.
The other rather crucial fact when it comes to the advantages of expansion is the Net Flows of money, meaning – how much money the new members get. The answer is a lot. Not a very quantitate statement I realise, but little of it made available to new countries has been spent yet, due to inefficient government agencies in some of the new countries. Therefore until it is spent and the remainder drawn back into centralised funds, there won’t be exact figures on this point. Some have spent it well, such as the Czech Republic, who built such an impressive “Pendolino” train between Prague and Bratislava that it was featured (as a train from Montenegro) in Casino Royale. The EU money is also helping build roads, airports, and clean up some of the environmental messes left behind by Communist governments of the Cold War.