Enlargement may threaten EU’s values

A time for caution

Sir. – I refer to your editorial (September 14th), dealing with what you term “the moral imperative of politically committing to the next round of enlargement” of the EU, and the subsequent letter from Prof John O’Hagan (September 16th).

I would have to question as to whether there is any such moral imperative, and certainly I would have grave misgivings about any such moves in the immediate future.

An unequivocal commitment to the values that have been shared by the original founders of what has become the EU is surely a prerequisite for any new members of the union. Those values include a respect for democratic processes – fair and free elections, an independent judiciary, free and diverse media channels, and an inclusive society with respect for minorities.

It seems to me that we are already seeing in some of the more recent members a serious slipping away from those values, Hungary and Poland being obvious examples; those countries are of course entitled to go their own way but should they be allowed to do so while retaining the benefits of EU membership? The enlargement that brought them into the union was expected to encourage and facilitate the development of democratic structure and attitudes, as they became more aligned with western European practices.


Regrettably that evolution does not appear to have taken place, but their presence and influence in the corridors of EU power is seen as obstructive rather than anything else.

In these circumstances it is surely no time to consider opening the doors to more entrants coming with even less mature democratic credentials.

I recognise that the EU has an important role to play in encouraging and supporting the transition of formerly totalitarian countries to democratic norms; the question is how best it can do so. In my view it is not by prematurely embracing such countries and permitting them to join the union. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 4.