COM(2006) 200 final
Overall, the fifth enlargement has acted as a catalyst of economic dynamism and modernisation for the European Union, helping the economies of old and new Member States to better face the challenges of globalisation.
While the experience so far suggests that optimism is in order, the remaining challenges should not be underestimated. Both new and old Member States face ageing populations and related budgetary strains, global competition increasing pressure on their economies, and a need to adapt to these realities, including by modernising their welfare systems and becoming knowledge-based and innovative societies.
In a world marked by global competition, not least from Asia, economic dynamism is essential. The fifth enlargement has offered new opportunities for both the old and the new Member States to undertake important steps in this direction. Further European economic integration will help Europe to stay competitive and gain from increasing internal and external trade, and better growth and employment prospects. The Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs and the path to the euro offer a framework in which to pursue the necessary structural change. Taking with determination this road leading to a dynamic European Union on the world scene will yield further substantial benefits to all parties involved in the EU and beyond.