OPINION

The next big step

When the Slovakian ambassador was asked recently which products Greece exports to his country (a newly converted EU candidate state), he appeared almost embarassed to admit that it was nothing but a few farming goods. No doubt our export activity to other new EU candidates is similarly unimpressive. Our leaders – overwhelmed with their (justified) satisfaction over Cyprus’s EU accession – had little to say about the implications of enlargement; that is, how we (primarily as citizens, but also as a country) stand to benefit from the process. Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis’s observation that Greece has become a «large-medium country» does not necessarily signal anything positive, as we will have to deal with the consequences of this new status – namely, cutbacks in EU funding over the next few years if we fail to exploit our advantage by investing in the new markets opening up before our very eyes. Having received billions of euros in EU funding since 1981, we should now be ready to make the next step, to wean ourselves off subsidies and prove our worth in a huge European market… The awarding of an accession date to Bulgaria and Romania presents a great opportunity for Greece to develop a presence it has already created in the markets of both countries before the onslaught of competition from other EU states. It could be the next big step…