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EU enlargement has strengthened economic, political and social bonds and deepened our union of values - Donohoe

Speaking at the Future of Europe conference at Dublin Castle this morning, Tuesday, to mark the 10 year anniversary of the largest ever expansion of the EU in 2004 (see full speech below), the Minister for European Affairs, Paschal Donohoe TD said:

‘The expansion of the EU in 2004 which saw Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia become members, with Bulgaria and Romania joining during the second phase of that enlargement in 2007, brought with it many changes. These changes were apparent not just for those who were becoming new members but also for existing members’.

“Political, economic and social bonds were strengthened to the benefit of all. In trade terms, the accession process contributed growth of almost two percentage points each year in Central and Eastern Europe between 2002 and 2008, generating 3 million new jobs. From an Irish perspective, the economic advantage of expansion was certainly a two-way street; in 2013, Ireland’s merchandise exports to the 2004 accession countries were valued at more than €1.7 billion.

“The strength of the EU lies in our unity of purpose. It has facilitated radical transformation for all of us through the promotion of peace and democracy, equality and the rule of law. That is why we must demonstrate the same level of vigour in defending what we have built up as those who are intent on tearing it down.

“EU enlargement creates a broader and stronger Union. The fact that other counties are working so hard today to join our Union is testament to all that we have created. We must continue to maintain support for deeper political and economic integration in spite of, and because of, the challenges we face.”