Membership of the European Union has grown from its original six countries to 12, then 15, then (since May 2004) 25. This expansion could easily continue (perhaps to as many as 40 members) since several other countries are in the running, with a variety of modes of association, as Jean-François Drevet outlines in this article. Among the candidates, Turkey is undoubtedly the one given most media attention, above all in France; but there are also the former Soviet bloc countries such as Croatia, Bulgaria and Rumania. Expansion could well have a domino effect, in the longer term bringing in former Soviet republics such as Georgia and the Ukraine.
In fact, the question of the future borders of the EU, and how acceptable they are to the founding members (above all France), is more topical than ever. Jean-François Drevet discusses the issues involved, the possible advantages, especially in bringing peace to the continent, the obstacles and sensitivities that must be taken into account, both within the EU and outside it (for instance with regard to Russia). He offers us a very full picture of what the EU might become - more than ever a matter of "variable geography". In his view, the prospects of the EU's centre of gravity moving eastwards are, for the time being, very slight even if there were to be major expansion: western Europe remains the clear economic and political driving force within the continent.
The main regret in this process, according to Drevet, is that this policy of expansion has unfortunately had the effect of holding back the impetus to deepen the links. Efforts should be made to remedy this in order to strengthen the EU, for example via the Constitution currently under discussion.