Will EU expansion have a beneficial effect on the 'Northern Dimension' programme, thought up by Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen? This was the question a young Finnish researcher, Hiski Haukkala, has tried to answer in his report 'On the way to a union of dimensions - EU expansion to the East and its effect on the Northern Dimension'. The presentation of the report, which was prepared for the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, took place on Monday, November 16, in Helsinki.
Unlike the Finnish prime minister, who has repeatedly insisted that EU expansion, and in particular the inclusion of Baltic countries, will only benefit Finland, Mr Haukkala is somewhat more skeptical. He points out that the EU is acquiring some new neighbours who are far from trouble-free. In his opinion a new 'Eastern Dimension' is appearing alongside the 'Northern Dimension' which will provide several challenges for its northern counterpart.
The author of the report makes the point that the new wave of EU expansion will mean that Finland is no longer Russia's only EU neighbour and therefore Russia-EU relations may now follow a more southerly route. The fact that the new EU members are relatively poor means that there will be fierce competition between the 'dimensions' for EU money, which will certainly not benefit the 'Northern Dimension'. Mr Haukkala therefore suggests that Finland puts more focus on the Kaliningrad Region in 'Northern Dimension' projects. He also believes that it is important to attract Polish participation in the 'Northern Dimension' programme. Germany could become the greatest guarantor of this programme for after this wave of EU expansion Finland, Sweden and Denmark will be unable to ensure the viability of the 'Northern Dimension' programme.