Contrary to the hopes of the founding fathers, the creation of the Common Market did not spontaneously bring about political unity in Europe -this goal indeed is still hotly debated between those who are content simply with the establishment of a free trade area and those who would like to go further and to provide the European Union with political institutions worthy of the name (cf. the article by Yves Bertoncini).
At the same time, the EU, which has grown from 6 to 15 members, is now facing the enormous challenge of further expansion:
-first, another 12 countries (mainly those in central and eastern Europe) whose applications have already been accepted;
-then, a further dozen new prospective candidates for membership, which would bring the EU up to a total of around 40 members.
Jean-François Drevet, stressing the gulf in economic and political terms that separates the current EU countries from the applicants, discusses the issues related to the expansion to 27 members. He shows that the challenge is as great as that of German unification, and that it can be met only by massive expenditure of structural funds.
As for the inclusion in the longer term of the Baltic states and the Balkans, which will be even harder to achieve because the economic and political gaps are much greater, Drevet argues that it is politically indispensable.
He shows, nevertheless, that these successive enlargements, however desirable, are in danger of diluting the European Community unless they are accompanied by a deepening of the union, especially through the creation of a hard core ("Carolingian Europe") capable of acting as the driving force.
It seems inevitable, in any case, that Europe will develop à la carte, with the creation outside an enhanced economic and monetary union of rings of other countries which will achieve integration at different speeds.