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European Union - enlargement

Page history last edited by Brian D Butler 9 years, 9 months ago

see also:



Table of contents:


What are the conditions for entry?

To join the EU, a country has to demonstrate that it fulfils three main criteria:


  • Political: It must be a democracy with stable institutions that guarantee the rule of law, and must respect and protect human rights and minorities


  • Economic: It must be a functioning market economy and be able to cope with joining the single market


  • Legal: It must be able to comply with the obligations of EU membership, including the adoption of the body of EU law [1]



Institutions & Treaties:



Enlargement (adding new states)

Note - before it was called he "European Union", it was originally called the EEC (European Economic Community), and then the EC (European community).  In this section, we look at the history from the beginning (including the name changes)...


Simple way to remember:

  • Founded- in the 50's
  • 3 rounds - '73, '81 and '86
  • end of cold war - '89-'91
  • 3 more rounds- '95, '04 and '07



  • Founded - in the 50's
    • Treaty of Paris -
    • '57 - Treaty of Rome - 6 founding members of the EEC - European Economic Community  -  BENELUX + France + W. Germany + Italy
  • 3 rounds - '73, '81 and '86
    • '73 -
      • UK (finally admitted after 2 failed attempts), 
      • Ireland (tied to the UK), and
      • Denmark (also lots of trade with the UK)
    • '81 - 
      • Greece (after fall of dictatorship in '70s)
    • '86 - 
  • End of cold war - 
    • '89 - Berlin Wall comes down
    • '91 - USSR collapse
  • 3 more rounds -  '95, '04 and '07
    • '95 - three "neutral" countries from cold war (neither aligned with West, nor with USSR)
    • '04 - the BIG one - 10 new countries join -- 8 former communist + 2 islands 
    • '07 - the two Eastern European countries that didn't get in in '04



Future EU enlargement: The next eight (nine?*)

    *nine if you count Kosovo as a country

     *as of Dec 2010


At present there are 4 official Candidate countries for membership of the European Union (EU):[2]

Croatia (HR)
Iceland (IS)
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (MK)
Turkey (TR)

Accession negotiations with Croatia and Turkey started on 3 October 2005. Accession negotiations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, named a Candidate country by the European Council in December 2005, have not yet opened; EU heads of state and government are expected to issue a decision on this at the European Council in December 2009. Iceland submitted an application for membership on 23 July 2009.


In addition, there are Potential candidate countries, who have applied for membership but have not yet been granted Candidate country status; they consist of all other Western Balkan countries:[3]


Albania AL)
Bosnia and Herzegovina (BA)
Kosovo under UN Security Council Resolution 1244/99 ( )
Montenegro (ME)
Serbia (RS)







read more here:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11283616


The other Balkan countries have been told they can join the EU one day, if they meet the criteria. These include democracy, the rule of law, a market economy and adherence to the EU's goals of political and economic union.


Iceland is the latest country to seek EU membership.




Area of Focus:  Turkey


At the Helsinki summit in December 1999 Turkey was given the status of a candidate country. The December 2004 Brussels European Council  concluded that Turkey sufficiently fulfils the Copenhagen political criteria to open accession negotiations. Negotiations started on 3 October 2005 when the Council adopted a Negotiating Framework ....The Commission's objective of "extending and deepening" the Customs Union (CU) was endorsed by EU Member States at the December 2002 Copenhagen Council. Subsequently, the Council has agreed on negotiating guidelines on the liberalisation of services and public procurement. [4]




  • Applied for full membership: 1987
  • Confirmed as candidate: December 1999
  • Negotiations started: October 2005
  • Turkey met the last condition for accession talks in July 2005, when it extended a customs union with the EU to all new member states, including Cyprus.
  • However, it failed to ratify the customs union and its ports and airports remain closed to Cypriot traffic. The EU responded, in December 2006, by freezing accession talks in eight policy areas.
  • In December 2009 EU governments reaffirmed the freeze, saying it would "have a continuous effect on the overall progress in the negotiations".
  • "Turkey has not made progress towards normalisation of its relations with the Republic of Cyprus," they said, calling for progress "without further delay".
  • So far only 13 of the 33 areas of negotiation - called "chapters" - have been opened.
  • Turkey's EU negotiations have been overshadowed by concerns about freedom of speech and democracy in Turkey, treatment of religious minorities, women's and children's rights, civilian control of the military and the Cyprus tensions.
  • The European Commission has called on Turkey to strengthen democracy and human rights, underlining the need for deeper judicial reform.
  • The EU has welcomed Ankara's moves to improve Kurdish rights and its efforts to normalise ties with neighbouring Armenia.
  • The EU also welcomed the Yes vote in a Turkish referendum in September 2010, which gave the ruling AK Party the go-ahead to change the military-era constitution and bring it more into line with EU norms.
  • France's President Nicolas Sarkozy and a number of other senior politicians in the EU want Turkey to have a partnership deal with the EU, rather than full membership.
  • Some politicians worry that such a large, mainly Muslim country would change the whole character of the EU, while others point to the young labour force that Turkey could provide for an ageing Europe.
  • The UK Foreign Office says it expects Turkey to be ready for membership "in a decade or so".
  • source: Turkey country profile


Read more about Turkey from GloboTrends here:  Turkey






Treaties - legal basis for the EU


     see European Union Institutions and political framework



Nothing about the treaties (or ENLARGEMENT)  can be thought of without FIRST remembering what was going on in Europe and the world

Before trying to memorize dates of treaties, make sure you first understand 


  1. European Union - enlargement 
    1. what were the key dates that countries joined the EU?
    2. what was going on in the world that made these countries WANT to join the EU (at that time)? 
  2. Key events to remember:
    1. 1940's - war in Europe
    2. 1950's - cold war begins (war in the Koreas)
    3. 1960's - Vietnam war, Cold War escalates
    4. 1970's - oil crisisBretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates ends.  Enlargement:  UKIreland & Denmark all join the EU (then called the EEC)
    5. 1980's - Japan & US seen as economically pulling ahead of Europe.  European desire to regain competitiveness leads to greater emphasis on "single market".  Early 80's see the entrance of Greece.  Mid 80's Spain & Portugal (after the end of dictatorships).  Late 80's fall of Berlin Wall, nearing end of Cold War.
    6. 1990's- German reunification. USSR collapse.  Eastern European countries turn toward West.  New members to the EU (formally neutral countries of Austria, Sweden, Finland).  Plans put in place for monetary union, and for the Euro (by 1999-2002)
    7. 2000's - Euro currency starts.  9/11 happens in New York, then Afghanistan & Iraq wars.  In Europe there is a BIG enlargement of 10 new EU members in 2004, then 2 more in 2007.  Attempts to approve  a Constitution is rejected and then later repackaged (as the Lisbon treaty) and approved.  Financial crisis hits in 2008.  Fiscal and debt crisis in Europe starts in May 2010.



Treaty overview:

  1. The main treaties you must remember are:
    1. In the 1950's there were two Treaties: 
      1. Treaty of Paris - before everything... 1951-2 - just 5-6 years after the end of WWII  -- Paris was heart of integration (along with BENELUX countries).  Treaty of Paris - founded ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community) - this was a test to prove that countries could work together.  When satisfied that it was possible... the next step was...
      2. Treaty of Rome - 1957 - founded the EEC (European Economic Community) a customs union, or "common market" - which would later become the EC, and then the European Union.  There were actually 2 treaties, one formed the EEC, the other an energy agreement focused on atomic energy (Euratom).  
    2. Lots of time passed
    3. In the 1980's, just after the first enlargement (UKIreland & Denmark in '73)... and before the end of the Cold war, and corresponding to the second wave of enlargement (Greece '81, and Spain Portugal '86)
      1. Single European Act '86-'87 (see wikipedia article here) - same year Spain & Portugal joined - the Single European act was the first major revision to the treaty of Rome.  Goal was to re-focus efforts on finalizing the dream of: free movement of people, goods, services and capital.  Target date was 1992 for completion.  Aggressive goal.   
    4. In the 1990's, and early 2000's - just after Berlin Wall fell, USSR collapsed, and another wave of enlargement (Austria, Sweden & Finland in '95, and getting ready for the big enlargements of '04-07): 
      1. Maastricht Treaty - The "Treaty of the European Union" - 91-93   (with 2 ammendments - Amsterdam '91 & Nice '97)  - (Maastricht) - changed the name from the EC to the EU.   Plans formalized to launch the Single currency (euro) by 1999.   Confusion - the Maastricht treaty created a 3-pillar structure to the EU, which was later abandoned in 2007 with the Lisbon Treaty.  Controversy - when creating the framework for the Euro, the Maastricht treaty laid out "convergence criteria" which proposed limits to government debt, inflation and fiscal deficits.  Many countries ignored these rules (German included) which might be a cause of the on going fiscal and debt crisis in Europe .   Problems led to the UK's forced exit from the fixed currency system in 1992 (see our discussion on Why is the UK not in the Eurozone?).
    5. In the (mid-late) 2000's -  
      1. failed constitution - rejected by French and Danish voters in referendum in 2005 (after "The Treaty was signed on 29 October 2004 by representatives of the then 25 EU member states. It was later ratified by 18 member states, which included referendums endorsing it in Spain and Luxembourg. However the rejection of the document by French and Dutch voters in May and June 2005 brought the ratification process to an end.")1
      2. Lisbon Treaty - 2007 (same year of Romania & Bulgaria EU enlargement) - Lisbon is actually just a "repackaged Constitution" - so referendum not necessary - passed 2009 after a failed referendum in Ireland  (note that 2009 is in the middle of the global economic crisis, but just before the intensity of the European fiscal crisis hits in 2010)  - Lisbon introduced major changes - created two new High-Profile positions: (a) the  President of the European Council and (b) High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.  The purpose is to help the EU speak more clearly on the international stage.  The result is more confusion (now there are presidents of each country, the president of the European Commission, a new president of the European Council, and rotating presidencies of the Council of Ministers, and a newly formed "High Representative" for foreign affairs.   See our discussion on European Union Institutions and political framework for more details...
      3. 2010... talk of further amendments proposed by Germany to address the current Fiscal Crisis in Europe




for more.... please see European Union Institutions and political framework  





History of Enlargement:



Eastern European enlargement 2004-07


The Eastern European countries constitute the bulk of the newest members of the European Union and are those that have faced the most dramatic challenges and changes. At the same time they are the countries that offer the most interesting prospects for economic growth opportunities. 


Three distinct phases.

  1. Phase 1: 1989-2004:   Investigate what political and economic policy changes each of these countries had to introduce in order to fulfill the admission requirements of the EU. Take into consideration their economic heritage as socialist economies and totalitarian political systems, being part of or heavily controlled by the Soviet Union. Assess the process of introducing free-market reforms as well as a democratic political system.
  2. Phase 2: 2004-2008:  Assess the progress made and challenges faced by each country in the first four years of membership, focusing on the economic and political dimensions.
  3. Phase 3: 2008-Present:  Investigate the economic performance and political landscape in each country under the heavy burden of the global economic crisis. Which countries have been better able to deal with the crisis? Why?







  1. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3682828.stm
  2. Dec 2010: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/statistics_explained/index.php/Glossary:Candidate_countries
  3. Dec 2010: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/statistics_explained/index.php/Glossary:Candidate_countries
  4. http://ec.europa.eu/trade/creating-opportunities/bilateral-relations/countries/turkey/

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