Sustainable Development and European Union Enlargement: Investigating the degree to which the European Union Sustainable Development Strategy has been integrated into the European Union Enlargement process.
Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Magister), 20 points / 30 hpStudent thesis
European Union (EU) Enlargement is more than a collaboration of nations; it has become a large-scale development project where countries facing significant economic challenges undergo enormous transitions in order to meet the standards for acceptance into the EU. This level of accelerated development calls for a strong integrated sustainable development oversight.
Sustainable development is a global development management philosophy that aims to conserve the integrity of the earth’s ecosystems while supporting economic growth and social welfare. It was developed by the Brundtland Commission during the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987, its primary purpose was to reduce the resistance to the conservation of the environment while raising awareness for the importance of the earth’s natural resources, both for those who need it today and those who will need it tomorrow.
The aim of this study was to investigate the degree to which sustainable development has been implemented into the process of EU Enlargement. A snowball method was used to identify both qualitative and quantitative data through official documents and statements, reports, research, and web pages. First, I investigated both the EU and the UN definitions of sustainable development to see how they compared and how the EU Sustainable Development Strategy (EU SDS) addressed EU Enlargement. Next, I examined the EU accession assistance programs available to candidate countries to determine if they were guided by sustainable development and if they had had any influence on the sustainable development within the candidate countries.
The definitions of sustainable development for both the EU and the UN were notably different. The UN:s definition provided a balanced approach to the Three Pillars of Sustainable Development, while the EU:s definition strongly supported the economic pillar decreasing the value of the environmental pillar. The EU SDS showed no marked reference to EU Enlargement and the accession assistance programs were not guided by sustainable development. Furthermore, the quantitative data collected from the EU sustainable development indicators in EuroStat indicated that the process of accession increased candidate countries GDP growth which also increased their capacity to meet the MDG’s and therefore, to implement sustainable development. However, while economic and social standards of the candidate countries were shown to increase while environmental conservation was shown to decrease. The significant lack of data designed to monitor the environmental pillar of sustainable development within the EU:s strategy indicated that the environmental pillar of sustainable development has been neglected. In conclusion, while the capacity to implement sustainable development has increased, implementation of sustainable development has not. Discussed in response to this is the need for a comprehensive EU SDS that reaches through the boundaries of member states and into candidate and candidate hopeful countries. Acting through an umbrella program the EU Enlargement SDS could bring both enlargement and sustainable development together cohesively increasing the chances that new EU members will make a more rapid advance in the process of sustainable development.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Tema vatten i natur och samhälle , 2008. , 62 p.
Sustainable Development, European Union Enlargement
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-11335ISRN: LIU-TEMA/VMPWLS-D--08/004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-11335DiVA: diva2:17744