The pending candidacy of Turkey and seven Eastern European associate members that could become full members by 2018 to 2020 is now in some doubt, unless of course the situation with the periphery members - Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain - improves in the next two to three years. After meeting with UK PM David Cameron, Romanian President Traian Basescu recently stated that integration of the eight candidates depends on the degree to which Europe remains under the cloud of economic and financial crisis. He added: “Because in order to look at the extension we will have to settle the EU’s internal problems, with Greece, Ireland, Portugal and who knows.”
Latvia, Lithuania pegged their currencies to the euro but took big hits when the recession of 2008-2011 hit, forcing Latvia to seek IMF assistance and suffer the pains of austerity programs. Similarly, the Poles and the Czechs let their currencies fall against the euro so they can achieve external equilibrium - sell more products abroad and import less. Budget deficits soared across Eastern Europe owing to the crisis of Western Europe, thus making people think twice about joining the EU. Latvia and Lithuania have watched Estonia suffer immense hardships in order to join the EU - wages sharply down and economic growth dropping by 20%.
The UK is no more interested in adding new members than many of some of the other northwest EU nations that see greater costs and influx of new workers in their countries. This message is clear enough and one that especially applies to Turkey and has its prime minister Tayyip Erdogan raising the anti-EU rhetoric to appeal to Islamist and nationalist elements in Turkey and Turkish-speaking Northern Cyprus.