Enlargement of the European Union

The territories of the member states of the European Union (European Communities pre-1993), animated in order of accession. Territories outside Europe and its immediate surroundings are not shown.

The process of expanding the European Union (EU) through the accession of new member states began with the Inner Six, who founded the European Economic Community (the EU's predecessor)[1] in 1958, when the Treaty of Rome came into force. Since then, the EU's membership has grown to twenty-eight, with the latest member state being Croatia, which joined in July 2013.

The most recent territorial enlargement of the EU was the incorporation of Mayotte in 2014. The most notable territorial reductions of the EU, and its predecessors, were the exit of Algeria upon independence in 1962 and the exit of Greenland in 1985. On 23 June 2016, a non-binding referendum on whether the UK should remain in or leave the European Union was held, with a majority voting in favour of leaving the EU. The formal withdrawal will not take place until negotiations on the terms of their withdrawal are finalized.

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

To join the European Union, a state needs to fulfill economic and political conditions called the Copenhagen criteria (after the Copenhagen summit in June 1993), which require a stable democratic government that respects the rule of law, and its corresponding freedoms and institutions. According to the Maastricht Treaty, each current member state and the European Parliament must agree to any enlargement.


Further information: Copenhagen criteria
European Union

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According to the EU treaties, membership of the European Union is open to "any European State which respects the values referred to in Article 2 and is committed to promoting them" (TEU Article 49). Those Article 2 values are "respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities." This is based on the 1993 "Copenhagen criteria" agreed as it became clear many former Eastern Bloc countries would apply to join;

Membership requires that candidate country has achieved stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights, 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. Membership presupposes the candidate's ability to take on the obligations of membership including adherence to the aims of political, economic and monetary union.
Excerpt from the Copenhagen Presidency conclusions[2]

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.

Finally, and technically outside the Copenhagen criteria, comes the further requirement that all prospective members must enact legislation to bring their laws into line with the body of European law built up over the history of the Union, known as the acquis communautaire.


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 (Enlargement Commissioner and DG Enlargement), but the actual negotiations are technically conducted between the Union's Member States and the candidate country.

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 the latter advised against opening negotiations with Greece).[3]

If the Council agrees to open negotiations the screening process then begins. The Commission and candidate country examine its laws and those of the EU and determine what differences exist. The Council then recommends opening negotiations on "chapters" of law that it feels there is sufficient common ground to have constructive negotiations. Negotiations are typically a matter of the candidate country 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.

Population and GDP per capita of individual EU member states compared with those of non-member states in Europe.

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.

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 a basis for the Council to make 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).


The following is an example of an accession process — Estonia's path to membership from the 2004 enlargement. Ease of accession depends on the state: how integrated it is with the EU before hand, the state of its economy and public institutions, any outstanding political issues with the EU and (historically) how much law to date the EU has built up that the acceding state must adopt. This outline also includes integration steps taken by the accession country after it attains membership.

Estonia EU membership timeline
Year Date Event Notes
1991 20 August Restoration of independence from USSR Recognition from EU in same month.[4]
1994 18 July Free trade agreement concluded[4]
1995 1 January Free trade agreement in force[4]
12 June Europe Agreement concluded[4]
24 November Applied for Membership[4]
1998 1 January Europe Agreement comes into force[4] Aiding pre-integration
March Membership negotiations open[4] 6 chapters opened[5]
1999 17 chapters opened[5]
2000 6 chapters opened[5]
2002 December All chapters closed[5] and negotiations concluded Final chapter (No. 30) was opened and closed at the same time.
2003 8 April Draft accession treaty approved by Estonian government
16 April Treaty of Accession signed
14 September Referendum on membership approved 66.84% in favour, turnout : 64.02%
2004 1 May Acceded to EU
28 June Joined ERM Requires 2 years in ERM before euro adoption
2007 21 December Entered the Schengen area
2011 1 January Adoption of the euro
1 May Right to limit migration from 2004 countries expired Only Austria and Germany applied this, the rest of EU countries abolished restrictions before 2011

Success and fatigue

Enlargement has been one of the EU's most successful foreign policies,[6] yet has equally suffered from considerable opposition from the start. French President Charles de Gaulle opposed British membership. A later French President François Mitterrand opposed Greek, Spanish and Portuguese membership fearing that the former dictatorships were not ready and it would reduce the union to a free-trade area.[7]

The reasons for the first member states to apply, and for them to be accepted, were primarily economic while the second enlargement was more political. The southern Mediterranean countries had just emerged from dictatorships and wanted to secure their democratic systems through the EEC, while the EEC wanted to ensure the same thing and that their southern neighbours were stable and aligned to NATO.[8] These two principal forces, economic gain and political security, have been behind enlargements since. However, with the recent large enlargements in 2004, public opinion in Europe has turned against further expansion.[7]

It has also been acknowledged that enlargement has its limits, the EU cannot expand endlessly.[6] Former Commission President Romano Prodi favoured granting "everything but institutions" to the EU's neighbour states; allowing them to co-operate deeply while not adding strain on the EU's institutional framework.[6] This has in particular been pushed by France and Germany as a privileged partnership for Turkey, membership for which has faced considerable opposition on cultural and logistical grounds.[9][10]

Historical enlargements

Interactive map of the enlargement of the European Union, excluding Greenland and Algeria
Applications for accession to the European Union*
Applicant Issued Accession/
failure rationale
 Albania 2009-04-28 Official candidate[11]
 Austria 1989-07-17 1995-01-01
 Belgium N/A 1952-07-23
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 2016-02-15[12] Potential candidate[13]
 Bulgaria 1995-12-14 2007-01-01
 Croatia 2003-02-21 2013-07-01
 Cyprus 1990-07-03 2004-05-01
 Czech Republic 1996-01-17 2004-05-01
 Denmark 1961-08-10
1967-05-11 1973-01-01
 Estonia 1995-11-24 2004-05-01
 Finland 1992-03-18 1995-01-01
 France N/A 1952-07-23
 West Germany[14] N/A 1952-07-23
 Greece 1975-06-12 1981-01-01
 Hungary 1994-03-31 2004-05-01
 Iceland 2009-07-17
 Ireland 1961-07-31
1967-05-11 1973-01-01
 Italy N/A 1952-07-23
Kosovo*[18][19] Potential candidate[13]
 Latvia 1995-09-13 2004-05-01
 Lithuania 1995-12-08 2004-05-01
 Luxembourg N/A 1952-07-23
 Macedonia[20] 2004-03-22 Official candidate[13]
 Malta 1990-07-16
 Montenegro 2008-12-15 Negotiating[13]
 Morocco 1987-07-20
 Netherlands N/A 1952-07-23
 Norway 1962-04-30
 Poland 1994-04-05 2004-05-01
 Portugal 1977-03-28 1986-01-01
 Romania 1995-06-22 2007-01-01
 Slovakia 1995-06-27 2004-05-01
 Slovenia 1996-06-10 2004-05-01
 Spain 1962-02-09
1977-06-28 1986-01-01
 Serbia 2009-12-22 Negotiating[13]
 Sweden 1991-07-01 1995-01-01
  Switzerland 1992-05-25
 Turkey 1987-04-14 Negotiating[13]
 United Kingdom 1961-08-10
1967-05-10 1973-01-01
* Applications to the European Coal and Steel Community,
European Communities and European Union depending on date.

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 of the coal and steel industries of France and West Germany.[30] Half of the project states, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, had already achieved a great degree of integration amongst themselves with the organs of Benelux and earlier bilateral agreements. These five countries were joined by Italy and they all signed the Treaty of Paris on 23 July 1952. These six members, 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.

In 1962, Spain, ruled by the military dictator Francisco Franco, issued its first attempt to join the European Communities. Spanish Foreign Affairs minister Fernando María Castiella sent the request form to French Prime Minister Maurice Couve de Murville.[31] This request was rejected by all the member countries in 1964; Spain was not a democracy at the time, and thus unable to enter the EEC.[32]

The Community did see some loss of territory due to the decolonialisation occurring in their era. Algeria, which was an integral part of France, had a special relationship with the Community.[33] Algeria gained independence on 5 July 1962 and hence left the Community. There was no enlargement until the 1970s.

First enlargement

The United Kingdom, which had refused to join as a founding member, changed its policy following the Suez crisis and applied to be a member of the Communities. Other EEC members were also inclined to British membership on those grounds. French President Charles de Gaulle vetoed British membership.[8]

Once de Gaulle had left office, the door to enlargement was once again opened. The EEC economy had also slowed down and British membership was seen as a way to revitalise the community.[8] Only after a 12-hour talk between British Prime Minister Edward Heath and French President Georges Pompidou took place did Britain's third application succeed.[34] After Britain was accepted Prime Minister Edward Heath said:

"For my part, I have no doubt at all that the discussions which we have had will prove of real and lasting benefit, not only to Britain and France, but to Europe as a whole."[34]

As part of the deal for British entry, France agreed to allow the EEC its own monetary resources. However France made that concession only as Britain's small agriculture sector would ensure that Britain would be a net contributor to the Common Agricultural Policy dominated EEC budget.[8] Applying together with the UK, as on the previous occasions, were Denmark, Ireland, and Norway.[35] These countries were so economically linked to the UK that they considered it necessary to join the EEC if the UK did.[8] However the Norwegian government lost a national referendum on membership and hence did not accede with the others on 1 January 1973. Gibraltar joined the Community with the United Kingdom at this point, as can be seen in the long title of the UK European Communities Act 1972.

Mediterranean enlargements

The next enlargement would occur for different reasons. The 1970s also saw Greece, Spain, and Portugal emerge from dictatorship. These countries desired to consolidate their new democratic systems by binding themselves into the EEC. Equally, the EEC was unsure about which way these countries were heading and wanted to ensure stability along its southern borders.[8] However François Mitterrand initially opposed their membership fearing they were not ready and it would water the community down to a free trade area.[7]

Greece joined the EU in 1981 followed by Spain and Portugal in 1986.

The year 1985, however, saw the only time a territory 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 for membership in 1987. Morocco's application was turned down as it was not considered European, while Turkey's application was considered eligible on the basis of the 1963 Ankara Association Agreement, but the opinion of the Commission on the possible candidate status was by then negative. Turkey received candidate status only in 1999 and began official membership negotiations in 2005, which are still in progress as of 2016.[36]

Post–Cold War

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

After the 1970s, Europe experienced a downturn which led to leaders launching of the Single European Act which set to create a single market by 1992. The effect of this was that EFTA states found it harder to export to the EEC and businesses (including large EFTA corporations such as Volvo) wished to relocate within the new single market making the downturn worse for EFTA. EFTA states began to discuss closer links with the EEC despite its domestic unpopularity.[37]

Austria, Finland and Sweden were neutral in the Cold War so membership of an organisation developing a common foreign and security policy would be incompatible with that. With the end of the Cold War in 1989, that obstacle was removed, and the desire to pursue membership grew stronger.[37] On 3 October 1990, the reunification of East and West Germany brought East Germany into the Community without increasing the number of member states.

The Community later became the European Union in 1993 by virtue of the Maastricht Treaty, and established standards for new entrants so their suitability could be judged. These Copenhagen criteria stated in 1993 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. Also in 1993 the European Economic Area was established with the EFTA states except Switzerland. Most of the new EEA states pursued full EU membership as the EEA did not sufficiently satisfy the needs of their export based corporations. The EU has also preferred these states to integrate via the EEA rather than full membership as the EEC wished to pursue monetary integration and did not wish for another round of enlargement to occupy their attention. However, with the EEA's credibility dented following rejection by businesses and Switzerland, the EU agreed with full membership. This was more readily accepted with the prospect of poorer countries wishing to join; contributions from richer countries would help balance the EU budget.[37] 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.

Eastern enlargement

EU's enlargements in the 2000s 2010s:
  European Union Jan. 1995  April 2004
  Joined the EU in May 2004
  Joined the EU in Jan. 2007
  Joined the EU in July 2013

As with the Mediterranean countries in the 1980s, the countries in Central and Eastern Europe had emerged from dictatorships and wanted to consolidate their democracies. They also wanted to join the project of European integration and ensure they did not fall back into the Russian sphere of influence. The EU and NATO offered a guarantee of this, and the EU was also seen as vital to ensuring the economic success of those countries. However, the EU's desire to accept these countries' membership applications was less than rapid. The collapse of communism came quickly and was not anticipated. The EU struggled to deal with the sudden reunification of Germany with the addition of its poorer 17 million people and, while keeping its monetary union project on track, it was still at that early stage pointing the EFTA countries in the direction of the EEA rather than full membership.[38]

States in Central and Eastern Europe persisted and eventually the above-mentioned issues were cleared. The US also pressured the EU to offer membership as a temporary guarantee; it feared expanding NATO too rapidly for fear of frightening Russia. Although eventually trying to limit the number of members, and after encouragement from the US, the EU pursued talks with ten countries and a change of mind by Cyprus and Malta helped to offset slightly the influx of large poorer member states from Central and Eastern Europe.[38]

In the end, eight Central and Eastern European countries (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia), plus two Mediterranean countries (Malta and Cyprus) were able to join on 1 May 2004. This was the largest single enlargement in terms of people, and number of countries, though not in terms of GDP.[39] The less developed nature of these countries was of concern to some of the older member states, who placed temporary restrictions on the rights of work of the citizens of these states to their countries. The movement westward of some of the labour force of the newly acceded countries that occurred in the aftermath of the enlargement initially spawned clichés among the public opinion and media of some western countries (such as the "Polish plumber"), despite the generally conceded benefit to the economies concerned.[40] The official EU media (the speeches of the European Commission) frequently referred to the enlargement to the CEE region as "an historical opportunity" and "morally imperative", which reflected the desire of the EU to admit these countries as members, even though they were less developed than the Western European countries.[41] Following this Romania and Bulgaria, though were deemed initially as not fully ready by the Commission to join in 2004, acceded nevertheless on 1 January 2007. These, like the countries joining in 2004, faced a series of restrictions as to their citizens not fully enjoying working rights on the territory of some of the older EU members. Bulgaria and Romania are not yet members of the Schengen area, however their citizens can travel visa-free to the other EU countries.

The socio-economic research on the attitudes towards the integration from both hosting and visiting countries has revealed divergent views.The analysis shows, there are a number of possible factors of the rationalization and understanding of the practices on what the enlargement has been and should be like. Attitudes of even skeptical citizens, do not discard the possibility on future sustainable enlargements. The years subsequent to the EU accession will lead to extensive dialogues between policy-makers, governments, and European citizens about the path for a constructive development.[42]

Western Balkans enlargements

The 2003 European Council summit in Thessaloniki set integration of the Western Balkans as a priority of EU expansion. The EU's relations with the Western Balkans states were moved from the "External Relations" to the "Enlargement" policy segment in 2005. Those states which have not been recognised as candidate countries are considered "potential candidate countries".[43] The move to Enlargement directorate was a consequence of the advancement of the Stabilisation and Association process.

Albania and the several successor states of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia have all adopted EU integration as an aim of foreign policy. Slovenia joined the EU during the first wave of the fifth enlargement on 1 May 2004. Croatia joined on 1 July 2013, following ratification of the 2011 Accession Treaty by all other EU countries.


# Official name Date Community countries and OMR Associated territories Excluded territories
1 ECSC Foundation 1952-07-23 Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Saarland, Italy, West Germany, West Berlin Until the unification of Germany in 1990 the de jure status of West Berlin was that of French, UK and US occupied zones with West German civilian administration. The treaties applied fully during 1952–1990 over the West German and French responsibilities,[44] and during 1973–1990 over the UK responsibilities.[45] From 3 October 1990 West Berlin was fully integrated in the Federal Republic of Germany along with East Germany. Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Tunis, Morocco, Guinea, French Cameroon, Togo, Mali, Senegal, Madagascar, DR Congo, Italian Somaliland, Benin, Niger, Upper Volta, Ivory Coast, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon, Mauritania, Burundi, Rwanda, Netherlands New Guinea, Algeria, Comoros, Suriname, French Somaliland, French-administration of Vanuatu,[46] West Berlin, Réunion, French Guiana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Mayotte, St.Pierre and Miquelon, Wallis and Futuna, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, French Southern and Antarctic Lands, Scattered islands in the Indian Ocean, Netherlands Antilles
1953–1957 the above, Saarland joined West Germany the above without the newly independent: Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Tunis, Morocco
2 EEC and EURATOM Foundation 1958-01-01 the above, Algeria, Réunion, French Guiana, Martinique, Guadeloupe Guinea, French Cameroon, Togo, Mali, Senegal, Madagascar, DR Congo, Italian Somaliland, Benin, Niger, Upper Volta, Ivory Coast, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon, Mauritania, Burundi, Rwanda, Netherlands New Guinea, Comoros, French Somaliland, French-administration of Vanuatu,[46] Mayotte, St. Pierre and Miquelon, Wallis and Futuna, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, French Southern and Antarctic Lands, Scattered islands in the Indian Ocean the above, Suriname, Netherlands Antilles, West Berlin, without Scattered islands in the Indian Ocean
1958–1962 the above the above, without the newly independent: Guinea, French Cameroon, Togo, Mali, Senegal, Madagascar, DR Congo, Italian Somaliland, Benin, Niger, Upper Volta, Ivory Coast, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon, Mauritania, Burundi, Rwanda, Netherlands New Guinea the above
1962-07-03 the above, without the newly independent: Algeria the above the above
1962-09-01 the above the above, with Suriname[47] the above, without Suriname
Netherlands Antilles Association Convention[48] 1964-10-1 the above the above, with the Netherlands Antilles the above, without the Netherlands Antilles
3 First Enlargement 1973-01-01 the above, Ireland, United Kingdom, Gibraltar, Denmark, Greenland the above, Bahamas, Grenada, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Dominica, St. Lucia, Kiribati, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Vanuatu,[46] Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Brunei, St. Helena, the Pitcairn Islands, the Falkland Islands, the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, the British Antarctic Territory, the British Indian Ocean Territory, Anguilla, Montserrat, the British Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda the above, the Faroe Islands, Akrotiri and Dhekelia, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, Zimbabwe, Hong Kong
1973–1980 the above the above without the newly independent Bahamas, Grenada, Seychelles, the Solomon Islands, Suriname, Tuvalu, Dominica, St. Lucia, Kiribati, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Vanuatu, Comoros and French Somaliland the above without the newly independent Zimbabwe
4 Second Enlargement 1981-01-01 the above, Greece the above the above
1981–1984 the above the above without the newly independent Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis and Brunei the above
1985-01-01 the above without Greenland the above, Greenland the above
5 Third Enlargement 1986-01-01 the above, Spain, Portugal, Azores, Madeira, Plazas de soberanía the above, with Aruba, formerly part of the Netherlands Antilles[49][50] the above, Macau, East Timor
1990-10-03 the above, East Germany and West Berlin join to form Germany the above the above without West Berlin
6 Fourth Enlargement 1995-01-01 the above, Austria, Sweden, Finland the above the above
1997-07-01 the above the above the above, without Hong Kong (transferred to China)
7 1999-05-01 the above, Scattered islands in the Indian Ocean[51] the above, without Scattered islands in the Indian Ocean the above
1999-12-20 the above the above the above, without Macau (transferred to China)
2002-05-20 the above the above the above, without the newly independent East Timor
8 Fifth Enlargement[52] 2004-05-01 the above, Malta, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Akrotiri and Dhekelia[53] the above the above without Akrotiri and Dhekelia[53]
9 2007-01-01 the above, Bulgaria, Romania the above the above
10 2007-02-22[54] the above, Clipperton, without Scattered islands in the Indian Ocean the above, Scattered islands in the Indian Ocean, without Clipperton the above
2010-10-10 the above the above, without the now-dissolved Netherlands Antilles, with Curaçao, Sint Maarten, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, Saba[50] the above
2012-01-01[55] the above, with Saint Martin, without Saint Barthélemy the above, Saint Barthélemy the above
11 Seventh Enlargement
2013-07-01 the above, Croatia the above the above
12 2014-01-01[60] the above, Mayotte the above, without Mayotte the above


Accession of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the European Union Accession of Serbia to the European Union Accession of Iceland to the European Union Accession of Albania to the European Union Accession of Montenegro to the European Union Accession of Macedonia to the European Union Accession of Croatia to the European Union Slovenian European Union and NATO membership referendum, 2003 Czech European Union membership referendum, 2003 Bulgaria Lithuanian European Union membership referendum, 2003 Estonian European Union membership referendum, 2003 Latvian European Union membership referendum, 2003 Slovak European Union membership referendum, 2003 Snagov Declaration Polish European Union membership referendum, 2003 Hungarian European Union membership referendum, 2003 Switzerland – European Union relations Finland Swedish European Union membership referendum, 1994 Maltese European Union membership referendum, 2003 Cyprus Austrian European Union membership referendum, 1994 Morocco – European Union relations Accession of Turkey to the European Union Accession of Portugal to the European Union Accession of Greece to the European Union Norway – European Union relations Accession of Spain to the European Union Denmark United Kingdom – European Union relations Republic of Ireland Treaty of Paris (1951) Treaty of Paris (1951) Treaty of Paris (1951) Treaty of Paris (1951) Treaty of Paris (1951) Treaty of Paris (1951)

Enlargement agenda

Candidates by the order of EU integration progress:
  Member states
  EU accession talks
  Potential candidates which have submitted a membership application
  Potential candidates which have not submitted a membership application

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 (SAAs) before applying for membership.

Turkey applied for membership in 1987. The Western Balkans have been prioritised for membership since emerging from war during the break-up of Yugoslavia. Albania, Macedonia,[20] Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey are all recognized as official candidates, and the latter three are undergoing membership talks.[61] Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo*[62] are recognized as potential candidates for membership by the EU.[61] Bosnia has an SAA has submitted an application for EU membership, while Bosnia and Kosovo have an SAA with the EU.

In July 2014, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker announced that the EU has no plans to expand in the next five years.[63] Montenegro and Serbia have set a goal to finish accession talks by 2019.[64]

Neighbouring regions

  Current member states
  Member state where an advisory referendum has supported withdrawing from the EU: United Kingdom
  Potential candidates that have applied for membership: Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Potential candidates that have not applied for membership: Kosovo* (status disputed).[65]
  States that withdrew their applications: Iceland, Norway, Switzerland
  States which have both signed an EU Association Agreement and have had their European perspective for membership explicitly recognised by the EU: Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine[66]

Former Soviet Union

Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia signed Association Agreements with the EU on 27 June 2014, which deepened their trade and political links with the EU,[67] and the European Parliament passed a resolution recognising the "European perspective" of all three post-Soviet countries.[66]

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko announced 2020 as a target for an EU membership application,[68] but in 2016 Jean-Claude Juncker stated that it would take at least 20–25 years for Ukraine to join the EU and NATO.[69]

Withdrawn candidates

Switzerland applied for membership in May 1992 but subsequently froze its application,[70][71] and formally withdrew it in 2016.[72][73] Norway has applied three times but withdrew its application each time, most recently in 1992. Iceland lodged its application following an economic collapse in 2008, but froze accession negotiations in 2013 and formally withdrew its EU bid in 2015.

See also


  1. Current Article 1 of the Treaty on European Union reads:"The Union shall be founded on the present Treaty and on the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Those two Treaties shall have the same legal value. The Union shall replace and succeed the European Community".
  2. "PRESIDENCY CONCLUSIONS : Copenhagen European Council - 21-22 June 1993" (PDF). Europarl.europa.eu. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  3. Article : A success for Konstantinos Karamanli on CVCE.eu
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "European Commission - Enlargement: Archives Country Profiles". Ec.europa.eu. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Timetable for accession negotiations by chapter and by country (1998–2004) CVCE.eu
  6. 1 2 3 Piket, Vincent EU Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, Institute for Strategic Studies
  7. 1 2 3 Beyond Enlargement Fatigue? The Dutch debate on Turkish accession, European Security Initiative 2006
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Bache, Ian and Stephen George (2006) Politics in the European Union, Oxford University Press. p540–542
  9. Kardas, Saban (13 May 2009) Merkel and Sarkozy Call for Privileged Partnership Angers Turkey, Jamestown Foundation
  10. Schauble, Wolfgang (2004) Talking Turkey, Foreign Affairs
  11. "EU candidate status for Albania". European Commission. 2014-06-24. Retrieved 2014-06-27.
  12. "Bosnia and Herzegovina applied for EU membership today". The Netherlands EU Presidency 2016. 15 February 2016. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 6 http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/countries/index_en.htm
  14. 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.
  15. RÚV, Application not formally withdrawn
  16. "Iceland withdraws EU accession bid". Deutsche Welle. 2015-03-12. Retrieved 2015-03-12.
  17. Iceland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2013-06-13). "Minister Sveinsson meets with Stefan Füle". Retrieved 2013-06-19.
  18. Referred to as "Kosovo*" by the EU
  19. "European Commission- Enlargement- Kosovo*". European Commission. 28 June 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
  20. 1 2 Referred to as "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" by the EU
  21. "Chronology". European Commission. Retrieved 2014-03-09.
  22. Staff writer (2006-03-22). "EU Mulls Deeper Policy Cooperation with Morocco". Defense News. Retrieved 2006-07-04.
  23. European Commission (2005-11-10). "1972". The History of the European Union. Retrieved 2006-01-18.
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  35. For more on Ireland's attempts at membership see Michael J. Geary, An Inconvenient Wait: Ireland's Quest for Membership of the EEC, 1957–73 (Institute of Public Administration, 2009) (ISBN 9781904541837)
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  38. 1 2 Bache, Ian and Stephen George (2006) Politics in the European Union, Oxford University Press. p549–550
  39. Giuseppe D'Amato, Viaggio nell'Hansa baltica. L'Unione europea e l'allargamento ad Est Travel to the Baltic Hansa. Greco&Greco, Milano, 2004 ISBN 88-7980-355-7
  40. Giuseppe D'Amato, L'EuroSogno ed i nuovi Muri ad Est. L'Unione europea e la dimensione orientale The EuroDream and the New Walls to the East. Greco&Greco, Milano, 2008 ISBN 978-88-7980-456-1
  41. THE NEXT ENLARGEMENT: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIESSPEECH BY SIR LEON BRITTAN QC TO EUROPAPOLITISCHER KONGRESS ORGANISED BYTHE CDU/CSU GROUP IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT – BERLIN 11 September 1995 and Günter Verheugen Member of the Commission responsible for Enlargement « Enlargement is irreversible » Debate on Enlargement in the European Parliament Strasbourg, 3 October 2000
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  46. 1 2 3 Vanuatu was a condominium between the United Kingdom and France until its independence in 1980, and was generally considered to be an overseas territory of both countries
  47. "The provisions of Part Four of the Treaty were applied to Surinam, by virtue of a Supplementary Act of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to complete its instrument of ratification, from 1 September 1962 to 16 July 1976.", in: eur-lex.europa.eu – Treaty establishing the European Community (consolidated version) – Text of the Treaty
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  49. Although Aruba was only added to the OCT list with the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1999, it was considered an OCT by the European Communities since leaving the Netherlands Antilles: "De eilandgebieden zullen dus de rechten en plichten van de LGO-status van het Land de Nederlandse Antillen overnemen, wanneer dat opgeheven wordt. Hetzelfde gebeurde in 1986 toen Aruba van eilandgebied van de Nederlandse Antillen een apart Land binnen het Koninkrijk werd. Hoewel de LGO-bijlage pas in 1999 aan deze situatie werd aangepast, heeft de Europese Gemeenschap Aruba van het begin af aan als LGO behandeld." in: Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Grondwettelijke aspecten: Territoriale werking / Antillen
  50. 1 2 The Netherlands Antilles dissolved on 10 October 2010 and contained the islands of Aruba (which left the Netherlands Antilles in 1986), Bonaire, Curacao, Sint Maarten, Saba and Sint Eustatius. Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten are autonomous countries in the Kingdom of Netherlands, and remain overseas territories of the European Union. Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba, also known as the BES islands, are special municipalities of the Netherlands, and will remain legally overseas territories until at least 2015.
  51. Scattered islands in the Indian Ocean are listed in the OCT Annex as Madagascar dependencies 1958–1999. After Madagascar independence in 1960 they are transferred to Réunion administration until 2005, when they are transferred to the French Southern and Antarctic Lands, which they joined in 2007
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  54. Due to reorganisation in the French overseas territories Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin leave Guadeloupe (with France retaing EU law application in the new territories) and Clipperton is moved from French Polynesia administration to direct Government of France administration
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  62. Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has received recognition as an independent state from 110 out of 193 United Nations member states.
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  66. 1 2 "European Parliament resolution of 17 July 2014 on Ukraine (2014/2717(RSP))". European Parliament. 2014-07-17. Retrieved 2015-07-20. pursuant to Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – like any other European state - have a European perspective and may apply to become members of the Union provided that they adhere to the principles of democracy, respect fundamental freedoms and human and minority rights and ensure the rule of law;
  67. "European Union - EEAS (European External Action Service) - Homepage" (PDF). Ec.europa.eu. Retrieved 2016-04-21."Armenia Drops Visas For EU Citizens". Asbarez.com."EU forges closer ties with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova". European External Action Service. 2014-06-27. Retrieved 2014-06-27.
  68. Richard Balmforth and Natalia Zinets. Ukraine president sets 2020 as EU target date, defends peace plan. Reuters. Published on Sep 25, 2014.
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