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The map shows the on-going expansion rounds of the EU: Bulgaria and Rumania (dark blue) were accepted into the EU on 1 January 2007. The acceptance date of the applicants for membership, Macedonia, Croatia and Turkey (green) is still not known. Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, and Albania (yellow) have not yet officially applied for membership.
@European Communities, 1995-2006

Enlargement to date of the European Union

On 1 May 2004 the European Union completed the biggest expansion process in its history. On 1 January 2007, two more states became members. Since the Schumann-Plan for the founding of a European Coal and Steel Community and its establishment -the treaty went into effect in 1952 - the original circle of six members of the European Communities, subsequently the European Union (Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands) has expanded to include today`s 27 states.

Expansions to date:
→ 1973: Membership of Denmark, Ireland and Great Britain
→ 1981: Membership of Greece
→ 1986: Membership of Portugal and Spain
→ 1995: Membership of Austria, Sweden and Finland
→ 2004: Membership of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Cyprus
→ 2007: Membership of Bulgaria and Rumania

Further Expansion of the Union
The European Union has presumably not yet reached its final form, neither in its geographical area nor in its political structure.

In October 2005, official negotiations with Croatia and Turkey were initiated. In December 2005, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia achieved the status of a "candidate country". Its membership is now under examination.

Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia-Montenegro will probably put in membership applications in the near future. How soon these countries will be accepted into the EU is far from clear: In November 2006, the EU Commissioner for Expansion, Olli Rehn, presented the new expansion-strategy of the Union for the coming years, and emphasized that before further states could become members, a reform of EU institutions must first be carried out, above all a reform of the distribution of voting rights in the Council as well as in the Commission.

Application for membership: 14 February 2003; latest developments: Resolution of the Council of Ministers on 3 October 2005 to begin membership negotiations.

Application for membership: 22 March 2004; latest developments: Status of a "candidate country" since the EU-Summit on 16-17 December 2005 in Brussels.

Association treaty 1963 between the European Union (then the EEC) and Turkey (Ankara-Agreement) designated membership as a long-term goal. Application for membership: 14 April 1987; latest developments: Status of a "candidate country" since December 2002. Resolution of the EU Council of Ministers on 3 October 2005 to initiate negotiations with Turkey; in December 2006, partial suspension of the membership negotiations.

→ Information on EU-Expansion: Gateway of the European Union
→ Information on the EU-Members and Candidate Countries

Acceptance into the European Union
The rules for the entry of a new member state into the European Union are to be found in Article 49 of the Treaty on the European Union. According to this, after the hearings of the Commission and after the approval of the European parliament, the Council approves unanimously the initiation of negotiations.
In order to join the European Union, those countries who wish to do so must meet certain political and economic criteria that the European Council of Heads of State and Government established in Copenhagen in 1993.

These Copenhagen Criteria are:
1. institutional stability as guarantee for democratic government and the rule of law, for the protection of human rights and for the respect and protection of minorities;
2. a functioning market economy as well as the capacity to cope with the competitive pressure and market forces within the Union;
3. the ability to take on the obligations of membership including adherence to the aims of the political, economic and currency union;
In addition, the so-called "fourth Copenhagen criterion" is of central importance: It concerns the ability of the Union to accept new members without losing the impetus of European integration, i.e., the European Union reserves the right to decide on the time at which it is ready to take in new members.

In Madrid, 1995, the European Council endorsed these membership criteria, and emphasized that European Community Legislation must not only be transposed into national legislation but also its effective implementation has to be guaranteed by the establishment of appropiate administrative and judicial structures.

Reports on Progress towards Membership
The European Commission conducts an annual examination of each candidate' progress towards membership and publishes the results in the autumn or winter.

→ Enlargement Strategy and Progress Reports

Membership Agreement
Acceptance into the European Union is regulated by an agreement between the member states and the applicant state. The agreement sets down the conditions for such acceptance, the transition periods if these are necessary, and the adjustments of the Union treaties which may be required because of the membership. The agreement must be ratified by all treaty states according to their constitutional regulations.

Public Debate and EU-Expansion

In the political debate on enlarging the European Union, Austria has in recent years emerged as a special advocate of Croatia`s joining the EU. The decision to initiate membership negotiations came about not least through Austrian pressure. Croatia handed in its application in February 2003; not until October 2005, however, did official membership negotiations begin after the chief prosecutor of the UN War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, Carla del Ponte, had confirmed the willingness of Croatia to cooperate with the Tribunal.

The main rationale for accepting Croatia into the EU - and subsequently other West Balkan states - is considered to be the reliable safeguarding of the democratization process in the region. For Austria in particular, however, historic grounds play a significant role as do massive economic interests. This is demonstrated for one thing by centuries-old close connections with the Balkans, and for another by investments of big Austrian business enterprises, such as OMV and Erste Bank, in these countries.

→ Current Progress report of the EU-Commission on the EU-membership of Croatia (8 November 2006)

In the current progress report of the EU-Commission of 8 November, Croatia is called upon to undertake further efforts in the reform of administration and justice as well as in fighting corruption. In addition it ought "significantly to strengthen" its economic reforms and continue to cooperate with the UNO War Crimes Tribunal. The Report attests, however, to the considerable political influence of state Croatian television. In its relations to the Serbian minority, various developments are reported: While symbolic gestures and conciliatory statements from highly placed state officials have contributed to an improvement, many problems still remain; there are still said to be, for example, many ethnically motivated attacks on the Serbian minority and the Orthodox Church. Altogether however the EU-Commission attested to "a good start" made in the membership negotiations.

Austria in recent years has become increasingly critical of the entry of Turkey into the EU. Prior to the beginning of membership negotiations in October 2005, there were vehement arguments about the negotiating paper. Austria insisted originally on its including as a goal of the negotiations not only full membership but also some kind of "privileged partnership" as an alternative to this. Acceptance of the membership goal came very late in Austria, perhaps under the positive influence of the acceptance of membership negotiations with Croatia.

Questions that crop up in public debate have to do with the geographical, cultural and political boundaries of Europe as well as with the identity of Europe. Critics of accepting Turkey into the EU fear that the cultural difference between Europe and Turkey is too great for successful integration. Advocates speak of the fact that Turkey - as a state which has contributed substantially to the shaping of European history - could, as a democratic-laicistic state, become a model for the Islamic world. Decisive for the question of whether Turkey will join the EU in the coming years - aside from the question of whether the EU can handle a Turkish membership economically - will surely be, above all, the protection of human rights and minority rights in Turkey.

→ Current Progress report of the EU-Commission on the EU-membership of Turkey (8 November 2006)

In its progress report of 8 November 2006 the EU-Commission lists many deficits concerning the protection of freedom of opinion, rights for the Christian minority and the Cyprus question, but Turkish economic development is positively evaluated. Contrary to what many feared, no suggestion is made here that negotiations should be suspended.
Partial Suspension of the Membership Negotiations

A suspension of negotiations on 8 of 35 negotiation chapters, was decided in December 2006 in the run-up to the EU-Summit Meeting on 14-15 December, after the Commission had recommended this step at the end of November. Two central conditions emerged in 2004 in the course of discussion of the opening membership negotiations with Turkey: One was the recognition of the EU-member Cyprus and the other was the fact that the protocol signed by Turkey, (Ankara-Protocol, supplementary protocol to the Ankara-Treaty) on the Customs Union with the EU, applied to the new EU-member states, and thus also to Cyprus.

Cyprus Conflict
The conflicts between Turkey and Cyprus go back to a reform of the Greek constitution in the 1960s which reduced the rights of the Turkish-Cypriot population. After this, the Turkish Cypriots demanded a partition of the island into two independent states. In 1963, an escalation of the conflict involving bloody riots led to the threat that Greece and Turkey would intervene in the conflict. Peace-keeping forces of UNO were sent in 1974 and this led to the laying down of arms but not to a solution of the conflict. In 1974 the Turkish army occupied the Northern part of the island. Since then Cyprus has been in effect a divided island: The Greek part forms the Republic of Cyprus, recognized by the international community. The Northern Turkish part forms the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, set up in 1983, which is not recognized by the international community. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is the only part of Cyprus recognized by Turkey; the Southern Greek part (the Republic of Cyprus) is not; this republic has been a member of the EU since 2004.

Maria Wirth
(Last update 01/2007)

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