Don’t look for Turkey to join the European Union (EU) any time soon, according to a former Greek cabinet member. Yannos Papantoniou, a former minister for national defense and national economy for Greece, predicted at a speech on March 5 that the EU, which last expanded by 10 countries in 2004, will keep its membership at the current level of 27 nations for the foreseeable future.
“There seems to be no desire for adding many new members, because it is thought that the absorption capacity of the union does not allow for any substantial new enlargement,” Papantoniou said. “I think people in Europe say, ‘Enough.’ The theory is, adding to the existing level of membership would weaken the union’s capacity to act in a coherent fashion.”
Papantoniou’s lecture, “Enlargement and the Future of European Economic Integration,” took place at Dealy Hall on the Rose Hill campus. His visit, part of a two-week tour of the United States, coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which marked the official beginning of the EU’s precursor, the European Community. It was sponsored by the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation.
In introducing Papantoniou, Henry Schwalbenberg, Ph.D., director of the graduate program in International Political Economy and Development, noted that normally a cabinet-level official of his caliber would speak to a group in the hundreds, rather than the 30 or so students who engaged Papantoniou in a question-and-answer segment after his lecture.