Kim du Toit has some sage advice for Eastern European leaders:
You might not want to bet on the EU horse for a while. If the Euros don’t want to play with you except on their own restrictive terms, why not wait a while, see how things shake out in the EU, all the while trading with the United States?
Kim is right, of course. The EU admission rules for the former Soviet bloc (bar what was once East Germany) do little more than turn those lands once-oppressed by Moscow into lands oppressed by Brussels. Farming rules alone are basically economic colonialism dressed up in the fancy language of multilateralism.
Fears of mercantilism aside, does Poland really want France as their economic model? High unemployment, high taxes supporting not only a welfare state, but uncompetitive industries, too. Zero growth combined with dictats from the EU is hardly the way for Eastern Europe to shrug off the last vestiges of, well, fifty years of zero growth and dictats from the USSR.
Besides, if the EU truly wants to rival us as a counterbalancing Great Power, what better way to cut them off (early and painlessly) than by promoting a US-led Eastern Europe Free Trade Area?
NAFTA is working for North America, and EEFTA (fun to say!) would do wonders for our friends beyond the Oder-Neise Line.