The article examines the evolution of the non-economic factors role in the development and enlargement processes of the EU. Author emphasizes that European integration has been guided not merely by economic considerations but political (in particular, security) and social factors as well as mental and value patterns determining the identity of the European community. The significance of non-economic factors shows an upward trend that correlates tightly with the growing complexity of the integration process, diversification of social ties on different levels of the social structure, and the general tendency towards greater role of non-economic factors in modern development.
The processes of European integration are aimed not only at higher economic efficiency, but mainly are a value and cultural choice based on the recognition of the primacy of a human being – in the integrity of its natural and formal rights, aspirations, feelings and social responsibility. The process of formation of the Europe of civil rights and values, freedom, solidarity and security determines the main vector of social modernization of the countries joining the EU.
Preparation to EU membership played a major role in profound systemic social transformations in all candidate countries of the fifth–seventh waves of enlargement. However, these processes were generally difficult and controversial, highly dependent on the starting position, institutional maturity and political will to change. The biggest problem has been the gap between formally proclaimed rules and the actual practice of relations, including the capacity to implement European standards.
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