The Price of Europe’s Expansion Fatigue by Shlomo Ben-Ami | Popgen Tech
The European Union has long revolved around its founding core, especially France and Germany. As the bloc deals with Russia’s war on Ukraine and confronts creeping authoritarianism among member states, it sees no reason to admit the Western Balkans to the club.
PRISTINA – Nineteenth-century English historian JR Seeley famously said Britain acquired its empire in a “fit of absence of mind.” The same can be said of the European Union after the Cold War. In some ways, the EU’s expansion outside its Western European core occurred in a wave of distraction after the collapse of the USSR. Now it’s getting tiring.
Europe’s borders have always been flexible in the minds of its leaders. For Charles de Gaulle, Europe included Russia up to the Ural Mountains. In 2018, France’s current president, Emmanuel Macron, proposed a more nuanced, if controversial, definition: a Europe of “concentric circles”, with each circle representing a different level of identity. It is a vision of a two-tiered Europe in which Eastern and South-Eastern European countries are put in their place.
While Macron’s idea never became official EU policy, it reflects an entrenched mental map that devalues Europe’s periphery. According to the worldview currently prevailing in the EU, the edges are only important when the core needs them, or when they become a threat to its security.
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