In the recent issue of Europe's World, MAXCAP partner Frank Schimmelfennig discusses the dangers of calling a halt to the EU's expansion in the near future. The announcement of Jean-Claude Juncker soon after his successful bid to become President of the European Commission that "no further enlargements will take place over the next five years" was, according to Schimmelfennig, unnecessary, as none of the current candidate countries could be expected to join before 2020 anyway. Building on recent MAXCAP research, Schimmelfennig indicates that the recent 2004-2007 enlargement has only had few disruptive effects on European integration and EU policymaking.
Juncker's statement thus unhelpfully revived older doubts about the EU's integration capacities which cannot be substantiated by the actual experiences of the last ten years. By putting the Commission's impartiality into doubt and sending confused political signals to Balkan candidate countries, the Commission thus risked the credibility of its enlargement strategy and its most important instrument for inducing reform in the candidate countries: conditionality. While emphasizing that the biggest effort of all still has to come from a candidate country itself, Schimmelfennig calls for the EU to regain its consistency in the ways it encourages the candidates' progress.