When the initiative of Andrea Ott to write a Handbook on the legal aspects of the next enlargement of the European Union was f ir s t brought to my attention , I must confe ss my initial reluctance and even scepticism at its feasibility. Of course , I did s e e the great merits of the concept of such a venture. A handbook implies precision, simplicity and a great deal of mental discipline in order to cover the full breadth of the topic and thus facilitate the readers' understanding, especially by providing the necessary source material for further research. The European Union had already declared its read iness to embark upon a massive enlargement eastwards and this will be the largest ever. It is the EU's official position that enlargement, after all, is vital to achieving the ideals of prosperity, peace and security in Europe as a whole . If all goes according to plan, in 2004 the EU anticipates extending its borders to take in eight Central and East Eu- pean countries as well as Cyprus and Malta. Moreover, the Union's enlargement policy reaches even further afield to include the Balkan countries .
Seen in this context , the enlargement process is a complex and ever changing one and any attempt to demystify it, such as that involved in putting together a handbook on the subject, is most welcome. But the pitfalls of enlargement cannot be ignored .
Publisher: T.M.C. Asser Press