30/04/2004

EU enlargement will have negative impact on NI says DUP

The imminent enlargement of the European Union from 15 states to 25 later this evening is likely to have a negative impact on Northern Ireland, the DUP has claimed.

DUP European election candidate Jim Allister said tonight's accession of 10 new member states would have a negative impact on many local businesses.

“Enlargement will change the EU radically, not just in its composition and geography but in its impact on a region like Northern Ireland," Mr Allister said. "Amidst all the hype and starry eyed reflections, it is important to make a realistic assessment.

"It seems to me that in terms of the local impact, the negative is likely to outweigh the positive."

He said that while new markets and opportunities were opened up for local exporters, the following negative factors at work would be:
  • Grant aid will move eastwards and away from NI;
  • The UK, already a net contributor, will be called upon to increase its role as a paymaster of Europe;
  • There will be a westward migration in pursuit of our higher wages and our generous benefit regime, with potential to create social and economic stresses;
  • Insecure boundaries exist between many of the new members and their neighbours further east, thus aggravating the problem of illegal immigration;
  • Local producers and manufacturers will have to compete with cheap imports.
Mr Allister said enlargement would pose considerable challenges to Northern Ireland and that when the euphoria eventually died down, would be seen in less optimistic terms.

Tonight's enlargement is the biggest expansion in the history of the European Union.

At midnight in Brussels, 10pm GMT, 10 new nations officially become members, turning the EU into the world's biggest trading bloc with a population of 455 million in 25 states.

(MB)

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