Summary: One way to prepare for EU membership is not just to learn all the EU rules, but also to look at how other countries have coped with the demands of membership and learn from their successes and failures. In essence, preparation for membership requires a sort of risk analysis and market research. With respect to assessing the risks of membership, instead of ticking off adopted legal acts, the governments of the acceding countries should identify the things that can go wrong. They should find out which are their weak points and take preventive action now rather than respond with remedial measures later on. Although it is never too late to carry out this risk analysis, failure to apply and enforce properly EU rules means, at best, that the Commission will eventually haul them before the EU Court of Justice. At worst, they will have failed to enjoy the full benefits of membership and protect adequately their citizens, consumers and environment. Market research is also a useful tool for increasing the benefits of membership. Indeed, the EU has a huge internal market, which offers many opportunities that can be exploited by the alert and nimble Member States. Just as companies structure their internal operations to improve their market prospects, so should the acceding countries do to improve their prospects within the EU system.
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