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EU expansion faces opposition

BRUSSELS, May 10 (UPI) -- Growing anti-immigrant and other sentiments in Europe may force the European Union to put off its expansion plans.

The sentiments received an impetus last year after the Dutch resoundingly threw out the draft EU constitution. The Dutch were galvanized by Pim Fortuyn, an anti-immigrant leader, who was assassinated in May 2002.

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Ronald Sorenson, leader of Fortuyn's Livable Rotterdam party, says EU's founding rationale of preventing another war on the Continent no longer resonates with most Dutch people, reports the International Herald Tribune.

"The EU is big enough as it is and we must erect a new economic wall to keep Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey from infiltrating," he was quoted as saying.

EU sources, aware of the new difficulties confronting their expansion plans, told the Tribune the commission might postpone a decision on the entry of Bulgaria and Romania.

In the past two years since the EU added 10 countries in 2004, many Europeans complain the EU is expanding too far, too fast. Recent polls show nearly two-thirds fear that expansion will fuel problems in European job markets.

This concern, notably in France, Austria and Germany, is fueled by worries about Europe's stagnating economies, growing hostility to immigration, and fears about admitting Muslim Turkey.

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