Enlargement of the European Union

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Enlargement, 1957 to 2007
     European Communities     European Union

Enlargement of the European Union is the process of expanding the European Union (EU) through the accession of new member states. This process began with the Inner Six, who founded the European Coal and Steel Community (the EU's predecessor) in 1951. Since then, the EU's membership has grown to twenty-seven with the most recent expansion to Bulgaria and Romania in 2007.

Currently, accession negotiations are under way with several states. The process of enlargement is sometimes referred to as European integration. However, this term is also used to refer to the intensification of cooperation between EU member states as national governments allow for the gradual harmonisation of national laws.

In order to join the European Union, a state needs to fulfil the economic and political conditions generally known as the Copenhagen criteria (after the Copenhagen summit in June 1993), which require a stable democratic government which respects the rule of law, and its corresponding freedoms and institutions. According to the Maastricht Treaty, each current member state and also the European Parliament have to agree to any enlargement.


[edit] Historical enlargements

Applications for accession*
Applicant Issued Accession/
failure rationale
Austria 17 July 1989 1 January 1995
Belgium N/A 23 July 1952
Bulgaria 14 December 1995 1 January 2007
Cyprus 3 July 1990 1 May 2004
Croatia 21 February 2003 negotiating
Czech Republic 17 January 1996 1 May 2004
Denmark 10 August 1961
11 May 1967 1 January 1973
Estonia 24 November 1995 1 May 2004
Finland 18 March 1992 1 January 1995
France N/A 23 July 1952
Greece 12 June 1975 1 January 1981
Hungary 31 March 1994 1 May 2004
Ireland 31 July 1961
11 May 1967 1 January 1973
Italy N/A 23 July 1952
Latvia 13 September 1995 1 May 2004
Lithuania 8 December 1995 1 May 2004
Luxembourg N/A 23 July 1952
FYROM 22 March 2004 negotiating
Malta 3 July 1990 1 May 2004
Republic of Montenegro 15 December 2008 (not yet official candidate)
Morocco 20 July 1987
Netherlands N/A 23 July 1952
Norway 30 April 1962
21 July 1967
25 November 1992
Poland 5 April 1994 1 May 2004
Portugal 28 March 1977 1 January 1986
Romania 22 June 1995 1 January 2007
Slovakia 27 June 1995 1 May 2004
Slovenia 10 June 1996 1 May 2004
Spain 28 June 1977 1 January 1986
Sweden 1 July 1991 1 January 1995
Switzerland 25 May 1992
Turkey 14 April 1987 negotiating
United Kingdom 10 August 1961
10 May 1967 1 January 1973
W. Germany[5] N/A 23 July 1952
* Applications to the European Coal and Steel Community,
European Communities and European Union depending on date.

[edit] Founding members

The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was proposed by Robert Schuman in his declaration on 9 May 1950 and involved the pooling the coal and steel industries of France and West Germany. Joining this project were the Benelux countries of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands who already achieved a degree of integration between themselves. These countries were joined by Italy and they all signed the Treaty of Paris on 23 July 1952. These six countries, dubbed the 'inner six' (as opposed to the 'outer seven' who formed the European Free Trade Association who were suspicious of such plans for integration) went on to sign the Treaties of Rome establishing two further communities, together known as the European Communities when they merged their executives in 1967.

The Community did see some loss of territory due to the decolonialisation occurring in their era; Algeria, which was an integral part of France and hence the Community, gained independence on 5 July 1962 and hence left the Community. There was no enlargement until the 1970s. The United Kingdom, which previously refused to join, changed its policy following the Suez crisis and applied to be a member of the Communities. However, French President Charles de Gaulle vetoed Britain's membership fearing its US influence.

[edit] First enlargements

Once de Gaulle had left office, the door to enlargement was once again opened. Together with the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland and Norway applied and were accepted; however the Norwegian government lost a national referendum on membership and hence did not accede with the others on 1 January 1973. Gibraltar, a British overseas territory, did not join the Community with the United Kingdom at this point, which led to further discussion with Spain about the international status of Gibraltar.

The 1970s also saw the restoration of democracy in Greece, Spain and Portugal. Greece joined in 1981 and the two Iberian countries in 1986. 1985 however saw the only time a country had voted to leave the Community, when Greenland was granted home rule by Denmark and the territory used its new powers and voted to withdraw from the Community (See member state territories). Morocco and Turkey applied in 1987, Morocco was turned down as it was not considered European, while Turkey's application was accepted but it wasn't until 2000 that it received candidate status, and 2004 when it officially began membership negotiations. Currently almost a third of the 35 chapters have been opened.[citation needed]

[edit] Post-Cold War

The Iron Curtain's fall enabled eastward enlargement. (Berlin Wall)

In 1989/1990 the Cold War came to an end, on 3 October 1990 East Germany and West Germany were reunified, hence East Germany became part of the Community in the new reunified Germany (not increasing the number of states). The Community later became the European Union in 1993 by virtue of the Maastricht Treaty. In part due to the end of Cold War tensions, the EFTA states bordering the old eastern bloc applied to join the Community. On 1 January 1995 Austria, Finland and Sweden acceded to the EU marking its fourth enlargement. The Norwegian government lost a second national referendum on membership.

The end of the Cold War and westernisation of Eastern Europe led to the EU wanting to establish standards for new entrants so their suitability could be judged. These Copenhagen criteria stated that a country must be a democracy, operate a free market and be willing to adopt the entire body of EU law already agreed upon.

[edit] Eastern bloc enlargements

8 of these countries (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia), plus the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Cyprus, joined on 1 May 2004. This was the largest single enlargement in terms of people and landmass, though the smallest in terms of GDP.[citation needed] The less developed nature of these countries was of concern to some of the older member states, who placed temporary restrictions on the travel and rights of work of eastern citizens to their countries. The migration that occurred in any case spawned clichés in some western countries (such as the "Polish plumber"), despite the generally conceded benefit to the economies concerned.

The sixth enlargement[6] to Romania (see accession of Romania) and Bulgaria (see accession of Bulgaria), who were deemed unready by the Commission to join in 2004, took place on 1 January 2007. They, like the 2004 countries, faced some restrictions. The lack of progress in some areas such as the judiciary led to further restrictions, such as EU funds they would normally receive, until they fully complied. According to the official website of the European Commission, the signature of the Accession Treaty of Romania and Bulgaria "marks the completion of the fifth enlargement of the EU". Consequently, the enlargement in 2004 was only the first part of the Fifth Enlargement. Also, recently Elmar Brok, a German member of the European Parliament and the chairman of the EP Committee on Foreign Affairs, added "We do not think that Croatia is a part of the future wave of the (European Union) enlargement. Croatia is the last part of the ongoing process of the enlargement according to the formula 10 plus two plus one."[7]

[edit] Timeline

[edit] Criteria and process

Population and GDP per capita of EU member states and some candidates.

Today the accession process follows a series of formal steps, from a pre-accession agreement to the ratification of the final accession treaty. These steps are primarily presided over by the European Commission (DG Enlargement), but the actual negotiations are technically conducted between the Union's Member States and the candidate country.

[edit] Conditions

Any European country could in theory apply to join the EU, at which point the Council, would consult Commission, and European Parliament on beginning accession negoatiations. The council would either accept or reject the recommendation unanimously. In order to receive a positive recommendation the country would need to meet the following criteria:[8]

  • It must be a "European State"
  • It must respect the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law.

In order to gain membership it must then:

  • Meet the following Copenhagen criteria established by the European Council in 1993:
    • Stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities.
    • The existence of a functioning market economy as well as the capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union.
    • The ability to take on the obligations of membership including adherence to the aims of political, economic and monetary union.

In December 1995, the Madrid European Council revised the membership criteria to include conditions for member country integration through the appropriate adjustment of its administrative structures: since it is important that European Community legislation be reflected in national legislation, it is critical that the revised national legislation be implemented effectively through appropriate administrative and judicial structures.

[edit] Process

Before a country applies for membership it typically signs an association agreement to help prepare the country for candidacy and eventual membership. Most countries do not meet the criteria to even begin negotiations before they apply, so they need many years to prepare for the process. An association agreement helps prepare for this first step.

In the case of the Western Balkans, a special process, the Stabilisation and Association Process exists to deal with the special circumstances there.

When a country formally applies for membership, the Council asks the Commission to prepare an opinion on the country's readiness to begin negotiations. The Council can then either accept or reject the Commission's opinion (The Council has only once rejected the Commission's opinion when it advised against opening negotiations with Greece[9]).

If the Council agrees to open negotiations the screening process then begins. This is a process in which the Commission and candidate country examine its laws and those of the EU and determine what differences exist. The Council will then recommend the opening of negotiations on "chapters" of law which it feels there is sufficient common ground to have constructive negotiations. Negotiations are typically a matter of the member state convincing the EU that its laws and administrative capacity are sufficient to execute European law, which can be implemented as seen fit by the member states. Often this will involve time-lines before the Acquis Communautaire (European regulations, directives & standards) has to be fully implemented.

A chapter is said to be closed when both sides have agreed it has been implemented sufficiently, however it can still be re-opened if the Commission feels that the candidate has fallen out of compliance.

In order to assess progress achieved by countries in preparing for accession to the European Union, the European Commission submits regular reports (yearly) to the European Council. These serve as the basis upon which the Council takes decisions on negotiations or their extension to other candidates.

Once the negotiations are complete a treaty of accession will be signed, which must then be ratified by all of the member states of the Union, as well as the institutions of the Union, and the candidate country. Once this has been completed it will join the Union on the date specified in the treaty.

The entire process, from application for membership to membership has typically taken about a decade, although some countries, notably Sweden, Finland, and Austria have been faster, taking only a few years. The process from application for association agreement through accession has taken far longer, as much as several decades (Turkey for example first applied for association in the 1950s and has yet to conclude accession negotiations).

[edit] Future enlargement

     Current members      Candidate countries      Countries with Stabilisation and Association Agreements

Article 49 of the Maastricht Treaty (as amended) says that any European state that respects the "principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law", may apply to join the Union. The Copenhagen European Council set out the conditions for EU membership in June 1993 in the so-called Copenhagen criteria (see Criteria and process above for details). The Western Balkan states had to sign Stabilisation and Association Agreements before either applying for and gaining candidate status, and all have already done so.

The countries prioritised for membership are those in the Western Balkans and Turkey, with three of these — Turkey, Croatia and the Republic of Macedonia — gaining candidate status. However in June 2008, the French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the EU cannot enlarge beyond 27 states without reform of the institution of the current Treaty of Nice rules. Such a reform would happen if the Lisbon Treaty comes into force, however as yet this is by no means guaranteed.

If the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles goes ahead, there would be a minor enlargement (within the Netherlands) to the three Caribbean islands which have chosen to integrate with the Netherlands. The Netherlands has suggested that the proposed Treaty of Lisbon allow the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba to opt for the status of outermost regions if they wish.[10] However, this is dependent on the Lisbon Treaty coming into force.

A referendum on Mayotte becoming an overseas department of France in 2011 was held on 29 March 2009.[11] The outcome was "yes" (95.2%).[12] This will mean that there will be another minor enlargement of the European Union to Mayotte.

[edit] See also

[edit] Candidate countries and applications under consideration

[edit] European countries which have considered membership

[edit] Other links

[edit] References

  1. ^ Staff writer (2006-03-22). "EU Mulls Deeper Policy Cooperation with Morocco". Defense News. http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?F=1636915&C=europe. Retrieved on 2006-07-04. 
  2. ^ European Commission (2005-11-10). "1972". The History of the European Union. http://europa.eu/abc/history/1972/index_en.htm. Retrieved on 2006-01-18. 
  3. ^ European Commission (2005-11-10). "1994". The History of the European Union. http://europa.eu/abc/history/1994/index_en.htm. Retrieved on 2006-01-18. 
  4. ^ British Embassy, Berne (2006-07-04). "EU and Switzerland". The UK & Switzerland. http://www.britishembassy.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1085326325096. Retrieved on 2006-07-04. 
  5. ^ On 3 October 1990, East Germany joined West Germany through the process of German reunification; since then, the reunited Germany has been a single member state.
  6. ^ Bos, Stefan (01 January 2007). "Bulgaria, Romania Join European Union". VOA News (Voice of America). http://voanews.com/english/archive/2007-01/2007-01-01-voa16.cfm. Retrieved on 2 January 2009. 
  7. ^ http://www.vlada.hr/default.asp?gl=200608250000011[dead link]
  8. ^ European Commission - Conditions for Enlargement http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/the-policy/conditions-for-enlargement/index_en.htm
  9. ^ www.ena.lu|
  10. ^ See article (293) of the Lisbon Treaty.
  11. ^ (French) "ENQUETE SUR LE FUTUR 101e DEPARTEMENT". http://www.lefigaro.fr/lefigaromagazine/2009/03/14/01006-20090314ARTFIG00183--enquete-sur-le-futur-101-e-departement-.php. 
  12. ^ (Swedish) "Mayottier vill vara fransmän". http://dn.se/nyheter/varlden/mayottier-vill-vara-fransman-1.833151. 

[edit] External links

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