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The Centre for European and Transition Studies, University of Latvia will organize international Jean Monnet conference “European Union Enlargement of 2004 and Beyond: Responding to the Political, Legal and Socio-Economic Challenges”. The event will be held in Riga at the University of Latvia on April 20 -22, 2006.

The goal of the conference is to contribute to objective debate on the critical issues, problems and opportunities in the economic, social, political, and legal fields that result from the EU enlargement process. We aim to bring together scholars and young researchers from universities and research institutions of the current and prospective EU Member states to create fruitful dialog, share the latest findings, and exchange experiences.

Conference „European Union Enlargement of 2004 and Beyond: Responding to the Political, Legal and Socio-Economic Challenges”

This research conference will focus on recent and future enlargements of the European Union (EU). It refers to the current development of EU policies that will determine the future shape of the European integration project. The enlargement of 2004 was the largest and the most challenging enlargement in EU history ever.  Its impact and consequences are still to be analyzed.

The Conference will focus on challenges and opportunities relevant to the societies involved in the enlargement. Ten new member states joined the EU on the 1st of May, 2004. On the 12th of May 2004 the European Commission agreed on a strategy paper and country reports concerning the EU’s future relations with countries bordering the enlarged EU. In this way the EU demonstrated commitment to develop its external relations, and avoid drawing new dividing lines after this enlargement.

Future enlargements and implementation of a new external relations policy are accompanied by an increasing awareness amongst the general public of a number of factors: the benefits of EU enlargement for its citizens; the contribution that the new member states can make to help the EU promote peace, uphold its values and ensure the well-being of its people; the consequences of the enlargement of the EU in terms of its objectives; the new challenges that will arise as a result of enlargement for the Union and for its citizens, both in the old and new member states. This conference can also be considered as a forum for increasing knowledge about the above-mentioned issues and stimulating academic debate.

The following topics will be discussed at the conference:

1) An Enlarged Europe: Current Issues and Future Challenges.
The implications and consequences of the accession to the EU of ten new EU Member States in 2004; the issues that arise from the accession negotiations in progress with Bulgaria and Romania, and the candidate countries - Turkey and Croatia; the implications of enlargement for the EU’s external relations with other European and non-European countries.

2) Boundaries of/within Europe.
The last enlargement of the European Union shifted the ‘centre of gravity’ in the Union eastward.
This rapid EU enlargement - from the ‘EU-15’ to ‘EU-25’ and possibly later to ‘EU-33’- will raise new political, economic and social issues that will impact not only upon the direct enlargement actors but will also carry global importance.

3) The European Union and its Neighbours.
External relations: the role of the enlarged EU in the international
arena. Consequences of enlargement on the common foreign, security
and defence policy.

4) Europe of Knowledge.
Knowledge should be at the core of economy and society, and it includes three major components – research, education and innovation.
The Lisbon Agenda in 2000 set a very ambitious goal: to become a knowledge-based society and be the most competitive economy in the world. What should be done to reach this goal?

5) The European Constitution in Relation to Enlargement.
It was stated that the European Constitution would serve to simplify the existing legal framework, set out clear objectives for future cooperation, introduce more efficiency into the decision-making process, strengthen democratic control in the decision making process, and ensure that the development of cooperation in this field is consistent with respect for fundamental rights and the different legal systems and traditions of member states.
Why was the ratification process not successful?

6) The Common European Market.
Economic and financial implications (e.g. with regard to economic growth, employment, professional mobility, economic convergence, external trade, internal market, investment, Economic and Monetary Union, the EU budget (financing and cost of the enlarged Europe).

7) Security and Stability in Europe.
Implications of enlargement on the security of its citizens, particularly as regards the fight against terrorism, organized crime, trafficking, and illegal immigration.

The Conference will comprise one plenary session and six parallel sessions. Prominent speakers will be invited to make presentations at the first day plenary session. A conference volume will be published after the conference. Papers to be published will be selected from the conference presentations on the basis of criteria for relevant research.

Looking forward to contributions from senior scholars and young researchers to the debate on the political, socio-economic and legal consequences of the EU enlargement in the existing and prospective member states.

Conference Organizational Team