La Unión Europea: el proceso de integración y la ciudadanía europea


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Not Everyone Is Rushing to Accept European Union's Invitation


December 25, 2002 - The New York Times

PRAGUE, Dec. 24 — They returned from the European Union meeting in Copenhagen this month as their nations' heroes, hailed in newspaper headlines as skilled diplomats who had successfully negotiated the entry of their 10 Eastern European and Mediterranean countries into the wealthy 15-member club.
Now the 10 leaders face a task almost as difficult: persuading skeptical populations to accept that invitation and join the European Union when each country votes next year in separate referendums on entry.

"So far, in terms of selling it, we are on the defensive," said Pavel Telicka, the Czechs' chief negotiator in union talks. He was criticized in the Czech news media for not bringing home enough money from Brussels. But, he said, "it's not just about money but about other issues that will have to be communicated."
Czechs are among the most Euro-skeptic candidates, with only 43 percent of respondents supporting membership in a recent poll.

In smaller countries like Estonia, with 1.4 million citizens, polls show many voters fear being swallowed up in a union of almost 450 million.

Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland said: "The most important questions will be questions of employment, salaries, social care. These kind of things should be explained by the government as simply as possible."
Pro-union campaigners face an uphill battle with Easterners, who fear they will simply end up with West European prices on the same old East European salaries.

"People are starting to realize that this is going to be very costly for them, that prices are going to rise, that foreigners will be able to buy property, which will send home prices higher," said Michael Shafir, a senior analyst at Radio Free Europe in Prague.

Hungary's rightist opposition leader and former prime minister, Viktor Orban, plays an openly nationalist card. He recently called the Socialist government that pushed him from office last summer "Brusselites," the same way, he said, that the country's longtime Communist rulers were "Muscovites."
"The same people who used to lecture us about Socialist internationalism now tell us how to be true Europeans," Mr. Orban said.

To which Miklos Haraszti, a prominent political commentator in Budapest, responds: "Orban, while preaching yes, is doing his best to ruin the people's appetite for the E.U. He wants to win the next election riding the difficulties that will predictably come in the first years after accession."

While polls generally show that union supporters can expect at least a small margin of victory, European Union officials say their main priority is to get out the vote. "Our fear is a low turnout, which can help the parties which are populist and anti-European," said Jean-Christophe Filori, spokesman for enlargement for the European Commission.

In Poland, farmers and workers fear that their land and factories will be bought up cheaply by the neighboring Germans, relegating the Poles forever to second-class status. While surveys show that 70 percent of Poles will turn out for the referendum, on June 8, with a 55 percent yes vote, pro-union activists say their greatest enemy is complacence.

Krzysztof Bobinski, publisher of the pro-union magazine "Unie & Polska," said opponents of union entry are highly motivated. "They will turn out and vote," he said. "The pro campaigners are not very motivated; they just feel that somehow it is going to happen. If we don't work hard, the referendum will be lost."

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Web de Juan Carlos Ocaña  
Profesor de Geografía e Historia
I.E.S. Parque de Lisboa 
Alcorcón (Madrid)