It is a fact that the interest of the various commentators of Fischer's speech was captured, to the same degree, both by the vision of political finality offered and by the strategy elaborated in order to reach that vision. Whilst it is true that the EU is experiencing a normative revolution, it seems, at the same time, to have great difficulties in defining strategies and policies. Shortly before the deadline for the completion of the IGC meant to prepare for enlargement, the EU has become aware that it lacks the means to achieve the aims it has laid down.
This major strategic difficulty is combined with the EU's deepening lack of social legitimacy, which seems to us to be Fischer's main concern. It has long been noted that a lack of social legitimacy is related to economic performance within the EU. Empiricism in excess governed EU thinking to the point that the danger of the organisation being deprived of this source of legitimacy and being confronted with a democratic deficit was ruled out. As is usually the case, the `poverty of realism' becomes evident when its effects are made tangible. It is a fact that the EU is now engaged in an effort to tackle this deficit.
This effort-one that addresses the three aspects of deficit: accountability deficit, federal deficit and constitutional deficit12-is covered by the notion of `constitutionalisation'. Thus, everyone now favours a constitution for Europe. Leaving aside the substantive critique of this effort-once again beyond the scope of this essay-it might, for the time being, be welcomed as the only endeavour to shore up EU legitimacy, even though it is not enough and has yet to have a real impact. On a constructive note, we can be confident that this demarche will have visible effects in the future.
Most of the positive effects of enlargement will also only be seen in the future. It is noteworthy that although Fischer's speech explicitly pleaded for as fast an enlargement process as possible, it has frequently been read as proposing its postponement. It is a fact that, following Fischer's address, there were a series of reactions which, when taken in combination with a perceived reluctance on the part of the French Presidency, were felt by Eastern Europeans to be arguments for the delaying of enlargement. The truth is that EU strategy towards the Eastern countries is changing. This change has come hard on the heels of a clearer view that has been established about the dimensions of enlargement following Helsinki, and the realisation that the financial and institutional means that would allow for the accession process to start have yet to be clarified.
Leaving aside the fact that a polity that has difficulty in taking common political action will always be inconsistent, does this change in strategy really come as a surprise? Has the end of the Cold War had immediate positive consequences for the process of European integration? Recalling the ambiguous impact of the communist era, it is apparent that dialogue and the building up of a common strategy will be difficult. We will further examine these strategic possibilities, even though we are aware that they sometimes seem to belong to an area of unfinished, Cekhovian dialogue, rather than have an existence per se.
First, one previously discussed strategic possibility that was revisited following Fischer's speech was the adoption of certain institutional solutions that would bind Eastern Europe to Western Europe without, however, running the risk of eroding the EU. One such institutional proposal, originally formulated by Delors and adopted by Fischer, was the notion of adopting several treaties. Indeed, if you look at enlargement merely in terms of offering solutions to the post-Cold War European balance of power dilemma, or of coming to terms with instability on the continent, multiple treaties would not seem to be necessary. Other institutional mechanisms which have those purposes in mind might be imagined.
Experience nevertheless shows how difficult it is to create functional and effective international institutions, especially in the short-term, as Eastern Europe required. It is also debatable whether such alternative solutions would ever be less costly or enjoy greater legitimacy than enlargement. Certainly, they would have come as a disappointment to Eastern Europeans, and may similarly not have enjoyed any greater a degree of legitimacy in Western Europe.
It now seems that the pro-enlargement argument that Eastern Europe might otherwise pose, challenges the security of the continent-as Fischer indicated in his geopolitical considerations-and is somewhat counterproductive. Despite the recent Yugoslavian crisis, Europeans now appear to be unwilling to accept this argument. Applying a neo-realist balance of power rationale to European security, we can assume that West Europeans will not fear war as long as there is a United States presence on the continent.13 At the same time, there have been notable evolutions in the concept of security. Individual, economic or environmental security14 have gained in importance as threats to national security have become more remote. It is the former forms of security that now appear to be challenged by conditions in Eastern Europe, and this is irrespective of the institutional scenario that is being followed (enlargement or otherwise). It is, however, to be assumed that enlargement will allay these fears in the future.
The second proposal related to enlargement that arose in the debate following Fischer's speech refers to a referendum to decide on new accessions to the EU. Although the idea was presented as a mechanism that might provide the enlargement process with broader popular support, it was also perceived negatively by Eastern Europeans. Not only would this popular consultation in each and every Member State have been a very lengthy process, but it would also have carried with it the danger of negative results.
In terms of substance, the need for a referendum could be deemed the `realist illusion' or `political illusion' about enlargement. A first ground for objecting to this is the fact that we are not actually dealing with a reunification of Europe and there is no `European people' to give their views on its fate. At the same time, it is true that the accession of East European States will bring about major and profound transformations of the European Union. However, what seems to be a constant within the EU strategy on enlargement is the desire that it will not produce substantial changes. By using the same accession procedures and management timetable for accession that was used in previous processes, the EU appears to be maintaining that this enlargement will not cause any greater changes than did previous enlargements. This may very well be an explanation for the frequent changes in strategy and delays in the accession of the first new members.
Third, let us examine the connection between political integration and enlargement. To state that they should go hand in hand would be an oversimplified view on how the EU will be able to achieve enlargement and deepening at the same time. Clearly, postponing enlargement until after the completion of political integration would amount to a sine die shelving of the issue. Beyond the lack of clarity in the understanding of its limits, political integration has been notably difficulty throughout the history of the EU. This also accounts for the negative reactions coming from Eastern Europeans on the proposed juxtaposition of political integration and enlargement to the East, as two processes that are seen as equivalent in terms of political possibilities. Thus, the argument on the need to complete political integration before enlargement, can be seen as being the `idealist illusion' or `legalistic illusion' about enlargement. Before the massive enlargement to the East occurs, the European construction must achieve as great a degree of consistency and perfection as is possible.
12 See, R.Bellamy and D.Castiliogne (2000).
13 See, for example, K.Waltz (2000).
14 See, for example, B.Buzan (1991).