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The continental territories of the member states of the European Union (European Communities pre-1993), animated in order of accession.

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 Bulgariamarker and Romaniamarker 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 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 fulfil economic and political conditions called the Copenhagen criteria (after the Copenhagenmarker 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 Parliamentmarker must agree to any enlargement.

Historical enlargements

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 Francemarker and West Germanymarker. Half of the project states, Belgiummarker, Luxembourgmarker and the Netherlandsmarker, had already achieved a great degree of integration between themselves with the organs of Benelux and earlier bilateral agreements. These five countries were joined by Italymarker 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.

The Community did see some loss of territory due to the decolonialisation occurring in their era; Algeriamarker, which was an integral part of France and thus the Community, gained independence on 5 July 1962 and hence left the Community. There was no enlargement until the 1970s. The United Kingdommarker, 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 USmarker influence.

First enlargements

Once de Gaulle had left office, the door to enlargement was once again opened. Together with the United Kingdommarker, Denmarkmarker, Irelandmarker and Norwaymarker 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. Gibraltarmarker, 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.

There was French opposition to the inclusion of the United Kingdom into the EU. It was only after de Gaulle left office and a 12-hour talk between British Prime Minister Edward Heath and French President George Pompidou took place did Britain's third application succeed. 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."

The 1970s also saw the restoration of democracy in Greecemarker, Spainmarker and Portugalmarker. Greece joined in 1981 and the two Iberianmarker countries in 1986. 1985 however saw the only time a country had voted to leave the Community, when Greenlandmarker was granted home rule by Denmark and the territory used its new powers and voted to withdraw from the Community (See member state territories). Moroccomarker and Turkeymarker applied in 1987, Morocco was turned down as it was not considered European, while Turkey's application was accepted but it wasn't until 1999 that it received candidate status, and 2004 when it officially began membership negotiations. Currently 11 of the 35 chapters have been opened by Turkey (with 1 already closed)

Post-Cold War

In 1989/1990 the Cold War came to an end, on 3 October 1990 East Germanymarker and West Germany were reunified, hence East Germany became part of the Community in the new reunified Germanymarker (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 Austriamarker, Finlandmarker and Swedenmarker acceded to the EU marking its fourth enlargement. The Norwegian government lost a second national referendum on membership.

[[File:EU2004-2007.svg|thumb|EU's enlargements in the 2000s:


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.

Eastern bloc enlargements

Eight Eastern European countries (Czech Republicmarker, Estoniamarker, Hungarymarker, Latviamarker, Lithuaniamarker, Polandmarker, Slovakiamarker, and Sloveniamarker), plus the Mediterraneanmarker islands of Maltamarker and Cyprusmarker, joined on 1 May 2004. This was the largest single enlargement in terms of people, landmass and number of countries, though not in terms of GDP. 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.

Following this Romaniamarker and Bulgariamarker, who were deemed unready by the Commission to join in 2004, acceded 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.


# Official Name Date Community Countries and OMR Associated territories Excluded territories
1 ECSC Foundation 23.7.1952 Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Saarland, Italy, West Germany, West Berlin Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Tunis, Morocco, Guinea, French Cameroon, Togo, Mali, Senegal, Madagascar, DR Congo, Italian Somaliland, Benin, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon, Mauritania, Burundi, Rwanda, Netherlands New Guinea, Algeria, Comoros, Suriname, Djibouti, French-administration of Vanuatu , 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, Aruba, 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 1.1.1958 the above, Algeria, Réunion, French Guiana, Martinique, Guadeloupe Guinea, French Cameroon, Togo, Mali, Senegal, Madagascar, DR Congo, Italian Somaliland, Benin, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon, Mauritania, Burundi, Rwanda, Netherlands New Guinea, Comoros, Djibouti, Mayotte, St. Pierre and Miquelon, Wallis and Futuna, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, French Southern and Antarctic Lands, Scattered islands in the Indian Ocean Suriname, Aruba, Netherlands Antilles, West Berlin
1958-1962 the above the above, without the newly independent: Guinea, French Cameroon, Togo, Mali, Senegal, Madagascar, DR Congo, Italian Somaliland, Benin, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon, Mauritania, Burundi, Rwanda, Netherlands New Guinea the above
3.7.1962 the above, without the newly independent: Algeria the above the above
3 First Enlargement 1.1.1973 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, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, St.Kitts and Nevis, Brunei, St. Helena, Pitcairn Islands, Falkland Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, Anguilla, Montserrat, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Cayman Islands, Bermuda the above, Faroe Islands, Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, Zimbabwe, Hong Kong
1973-1980 the above the above without the newly independent: Bahamas, Grenada, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Dominica, St. Lucia, Kiribati, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Comoros, Vanuatu the above without the newly independent: Zimbabwe, Suriname
4 Second Enlargement 1.1.1981 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, Brunei the above
1.1.1985 the above without Greenland the above, Greenland the above
5 Third Enlargement 1.1.1986 the above, Spain, Portugal, Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands, Plazas de soberanía the above the above, Macau, East Timor
3.10.1990 the above, East Germany and West Berlin join into Germany the above the above without West Berlin
6 Fourth Enlargement 1.1.1995 the above, Austria, Sweden, Finland the above the above
1997-1999 the above the above the above without the transferred to China: Hong Kong, Macau
7 1.5.1999 the above, Scattered islands in the Indian Ocean the above, Aruba, Netherlands Antilles and without Scattered islands in the Indian Ocean the above, without Aruba, Netherland Antilles
20.5.2002 the above the above the above, without the newly independent East Timor
8 Fifth Enlargement 1.5.2004 the above, Malta, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Akrotiri and Dhekelia the above the above without Akrotiri and Dhekelia
9 1.1.2007 the above, Bulgaria, Romania the above the above
10 22.2.2007 the above, Clipperton, without Scattered islands in the Indian Ocean the above, Scattered islands in the Indian Ocean, without Clipperton the above


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 id:negotiations  value:rgb(1,0.8,0)      legend:post_application_negotiations
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Period = from:01/01/1945 till:12/12/2010TimeAxis = orientation:horizontal format:yyyyScaleMajor = unit:year increment:5 start:1950 gridcolor:lineAlignBars = justifyLegend = left:40 top:80


 width:18 fontsize:S textcolor:black anchor:from align:left

 bar:Belgium         color:membership    from:23/07/1952  till:05/08/2009  shift:(-42,-5)  text:Belgiummarker
 bar:France          color:membership    from:23/07/1952  till:05/08/2009  shift:(-37,-5)  text:Francemarker
 bar:Germany         color:membership    from:23/07/1952  till:05/08/2009  shift:(-80,-5)  text: Germanymarker
 bar:Italy           color:membership    from:23/07/1952  till:05/08/2009  shift:(-24,-5)  text:Italymarker
 bar:Luxembourg      color:membership    from:23/07/1952  till:05/08/2009  shift:(-62,-5)  text:Luxembourgmarker
 bar:Netherlands     color:membership    from:23/07/1952  till:05/08/2009  shift:(-61,-5)  text:Netherlandsmarker
 bar:Ireland         color:negotiations  from:31/07/1961  till:14/01/1963  shift:(-36,-5)  text:Irelandmarker
                                         at:14/01/1963                     shift:(5,-5)    text:withdr.  textcolor:red
                                         at:31/07/1961                     shift:(2,-5)    text:1  textcolor:black
                     color:negotiations  from:11/05/1967  till:31/12/1972
                                         at:11/05/1967                     shift:(2,-5)    text:2  textcolor:black
                     color:membership    from:01/01/1973  till:05/08/2009
 bar:Denmark         color:negotiations  from:10/08/1961  till:14/01/1963  shift:(-47,-5)  text:Denmarkmarker
                                         at:14/01/1963                     shift:(5,-5)    text:withdr.  textcolor:red
                                         at:10/08/1961                     shift:(2,-5)    text:1  textcolor:black
                     color:negotiations  from:11/05/1967  till:31/12/1972
                                         at:11/05/1967                     shift:(2,-5)    text:2  textcolor:black
                     color:membership    from:01/01/1973  till:05/08/2009
 bar:United_Kingdom  color:negotiations  from:10/08/1961  till:14/01/1963  shift:(-80,-5)  text:United Kingdommarker
                                         at:31/07/1961                     shift:(2,-5)    text:1  textcolor:black
                                         at:14/01/1963                     shift:(5,-5)    text:vetoed  textcolor:red
                     color:negotiations  from:10/05/1967  till:31/12/1972
                                         at:10/05/1967                     shift:(2,-5)    text:2  textcolor:black
                     color:membership    from:01/01/1973  till:05/08/2009
 bar:Norway          color:negotiations  from:30/04/1962  till:14/01/1963  shift:(-39,-5)  text:Norwaymarker
                                         at:14/01/1963                     shift:(7,-5)    text:withdr.  textcolor:red
                                         at:30/04/1962                     shift:(2,-5)    text:1  textcolor:black
                     color:negotiations  from:21/07/1967  till:25/09/1972
                                         at:25/09/1972                     shift:(5,-5)    text:withdrawn  textcolor:red
                                         at:21/07/1967                     shift:(2,-5)    text:2  textcolor:black
                     color:negotiations  from:25/11/1992  till:28/11/1994
                                         at:28/11/1994                     shift:(5,-5)    text:withdrawn  textcolor:red
                                         at:25/11/1992                     shift:(2,-5)    text:3  textcolor:black
 bar:Greece          color:negotiations  from:12/06/1975  till:31/12/1980  shift:(-38,-5)  text:Greecemarker
                     color:membership    from:01/01/1981  till:05/08/2009
 bar:Portugal        color:negotiations  from:28/03/1977  till:31/12/1985  shift:(-44,-5)  text:Portugalmarker
                     color:membership    from:01/01/1986  till:05/08/2009
 bar:Spain           color:negotiations  from:28/07/1977  till:31/12/1985  shift:(-31,-5)  text:Spainmarker
                     color:membership    from:01/01/1986  till:05/08/2009
 bar:Turkey          color:negotiations  from:14/04/1987  till:05/08/2009  shift:(-38,-5)  text:Turkeymarker
                                         at:03/10/2005                     shift:(-5,-5)  text:negotiating  textcolor:green
 bar:Morocco         color:negotiations  from:20/07/1987  till:01/10/1987  shift:(-43,-5)  text:Moroccomarker
                                         at:01/10/1987                     shift:(5,-5)    text:rejected  textcolor:red
 bar:Austria         color:negotiations  from:17/07/1989  till:31/12/1994  shift:(-38,-5)  text:Austriamarker
                     color:membership    from:01/01/1995  till:05/08/2009
 bar:Cyprus          color:negotiations  from:03/07/1990  till:30/04/2004  shift:(-40,-5)  text:Cyprusmarker
                     color:membership    from:01/05/2004  till:05/08/2009
 bar:Malta           color:negotiations  from:03/07/1990  till:01/11/1996  shift:(-31,-5)  text:Maltamarker
                     color:negotiations  from:31/10/1998  till:30/04/2004
                                         at:01/11/1996                     shift:(2,-5)  text:froz.  textcolor:black
                     color:membership    from:01/05/2004  till:05/08/2009
 bar:Sweden          color:negotiations  from:01/07/1991  till:31/12/1994  shift:(-43,-5)  text:Swedenmarker
                     color:membership    from:01/01/1995  till:05/08/2009
 bar:Finland         color:negotiations  from:18/03/1992  till:31/12/1994  shift:(-41,-5)  text:Finlandmarker
                     color:membership    from:01/01/1995  till:05/08/2009
 bar:Switzerland     color:negotiations  from:25/05/1992  till:06/12/1992  shift:(-59,-5)  text:Switzerlandmarker
                                         at:06/12/1992                     shift:(5,-5)  text:frozen  textcolor:black
 bar:Hungary         color:negotiations  from:31/03/1994  till:30/04/2004  shift:(-46,-5)  text:Hungarymarker
                     color:membership    from:01/05/2004  till:05/08/2009
 bar:Poland          color:negotiations  from:05/04/1994  till:30/04/2004  shift:(-39,-5)  text:Polandmarker
                     color:membership    from:01/05/2004  till:05/08/2009
 bar:Romania         color:negotiations  from:22/06/1995  till:31/12/2006  shift:(-46,-5)  text:Romaniamarker
                     color:membership    from:01/01/2007  till:05/08/2009
 bar:Slovakia        color:negotiations  from:27/06/1995  till:30/04/2004  shift:(-44,-5)  text:Slovakiamarker
                     color:membership    from:01/05/2004  till:05/08/2009
 bar:Latvia          color:negotiations  from:13/10/1995  till:30/04/2004  shift:(-33,-5)  text:Latviamarker
                     color:membership    from:01/05/2004  till:05/08/2009
 bar:Estonia         color:negotiations  from:24/11/1995  till:30/04/2004  shift:(-40,-5)  text:Estoniamarker
                     color:membership    from:01/05/2004  till:05/08/2009
 bar:Lithuania       color:negotiations  from:08/12/1995  till:30/04/2004  shift:(-49,-5)  text:Lithuaniamarker
                     color:membership    from:01/05/2004  till:05/08/2009
 bar:Bulgaria        color:negotiations  from:14/12/1995  till:31/12/2006  shift:(-44,-5)  text:Bulgariamarker
                     color:membership    from:01/01/2007  till:05/08/2009
 bar:Czech_Republic  color:negotiations  from:17/01/1996  till:30/04/2004  shift:(-77,-5)  text:Czech Republicmarker
                     color:membership    from:01/05/2004  till:05/08/2009
 bar:Slovenia        color:negotiations  from:10/06/1996  till:30/04/2004  shift:(-44,-5)  text:Sloveniamarker
                     color:membership    from:01/05/2004  till:05/08/2009
 bar:Croatia         color:negotiations  from:21/02/2003  till:05/08/2009  shift:(-38,-5)  text:Croatiamarker
                                         at:03/10/2005                     shift:(-5,-5)  text:negotiating  textcolor:green
 bar:FYROM           color:negotiations  from:22/03/2004  till:05/08/2009  shift:(-59,-5)  text:Macedoniamarker
 bar:Montenegro      color:negotiations  from:15/12/2008  till:05/08/2009  shift:(-59,-5)  text:Montenegromarker
 bar:Albania         color:negotiations  from:28/04/2009  till:05/08/2009  shift:(-38,-5)  text:Albaniamarker
 bar:Iceland         color:negotiations  from:17/07/2009  till:05/08/2009  shift:(-38,-5)  text:Icelandmarker

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.


Any European country could in theory apply to join the EU, at which point the Council would consult with the Commissionmarker and the European Parliamentmarker on beginning accession negotiations. The council would either accept or reject the recommendation unanimously. To receive a positive recommendation, the country must meet the following criteria:

  • 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.

To gain membership it must:
  • 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.


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).

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 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.

To assess progress achieved by countries in preparing for accession to the European Union, the European Commissionmarker 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).

Future enlargement

[[File:EU27-candidate countries map.svg|thumb|300px|


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 Southeast Europe, Turkeymarker, and Icelandmarker with three of these — Turkeymarker, Croatiamarker and Macedoniamarker — 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.

If the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles goes ahead, there would be a minor enlargement (within the Netherlands) from the three Caribbeanmarker islands that chose to integrate with the Netherlands. The Netherlands has suggested that the Treaty of Lisbon allow the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba to opt for the status of outermost regions if they wish.

A referendum on Mayottemarker becoming an overseas department of France in 2011 was held on 29 March 2009. The outcome was "yes" (95.2%). This should lead to Mayotte becoming an outermost region of the European Union.

See also


  1. "1971 Year in Review,"
  2. Turkey Secretariat General for EU affairs - CURRENT SITUATION IN ACCESSION NEGOTITATIONS
  3. Unitl 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 European Coal and Steel Community Treaty, Art.79, and during 1973-1990 over the UK responsibilities.[1] From 3.10.1990 West Berlin was fully integrated in the Federal Republic of Germany along with East Germany.
  4. 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 transfered to the French Southern and Antarctic Lands, which they joined in 2007
  5. Treaty of Accession 2003, protocol 3
  6. 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
  7. European Commission - Conditions for Enlargement
  9. See article (293) of the Lisbon Treaty.

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