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Crisis puts damper on E.U. celebration

Flags at the European Parliament

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: Today marks the five-year anniversary of the single largest expansion of the European Union. Eight countries in central and Eastern Europe, and two in the Mediterranean joined the E.U. in 2004. But as Christopher Werth reports, the global economic crisis has killed the mood to celebrate.


Christopher Werth: E.U. officials are trying to put a bright face on the five-year mark. They just released a report that says the mass exodus of workers from East to West boosted E.U. GDP by $65 billion, and projects that could double by 2020.

But since last fall, the flow of migrants has slowed to a standstill. Eastern Europe has been among the hardest hit in the global downturn.

Katinka Barysch at the Center for European Reform says the crisis hasn't provided the type of stability many countries had hoped for.

Katinka Barysch: The reason why these countries are now so vulnerable is because they've integrated so fast into the E.U. Now they feel kind of helpless because they have no control over their own economies.

The IMF has deployed billions in emergency loans to countries like Hungary and Poland. Nonetheless, many more countries wait at Europe's door, including the western Balkans and Turkey. Albania filed its paperwork on Tuesday, and Iceland could start the process as early as this summer.

In London, this is Christopher Werth for Marketplace.

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