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The enlargement of the European Union

The enlargement of the European Union

The enlargement of the European Union

Europe at the service of peace and democracy

Community Europe has celebrated its 50th anniversary.

On 9 May 1950, Robert Schuman made history by putting to the Federal

Republic of Germany, and to the other European countries, the idea of

creating a Community of pacific interests. He began a completely new

process in international relations by proposing to old nations to together

recover, by exercising jointly their sovereignty, the influence which each

of them was incapable of exercising alone.

The construction of Europe has since then moved forward every day. It

represents the most significant undertaking of the 20th century and a new

hope at the dawn of the new century. It derives its momentum from the far-

sighted and ambitious project of the founding fathers who emerged from the

second world war driven by the resolve to establish between the peoples of

Europe the conditions for a lasting peace.

A historic success

As Europe approaches the dawn of the third millennium, a look back over

the 50 years of progress towards European integration shows that the

European Union is a historic success. Countries which were hitherto

enemies, today share a common currency, the euro, and manage their economic

and commercial interests within the framework of joint institutions.

Europeans now settle their differences through peaceful means, applying

the rule of law and seeking conciliation. The spirit of superiority and

discrimination has been banished from relationships between the Member

States, which have entrusted to the four Community institutions, the

Council, the Parliament, Commission and the Court of Justice, the

responsibility for mediating their conflicts, for defining the general

interest of Europeans and for pursuing common policies.

Economic integration every day highlights the need for and takes people

closer to political union. At international level, the European Union is

wielding increasing influence commensurate with its economic importance,

the standard of living of its citizens, its place in diplomatic, commercial

and monetary forums.

The European Community derives its strength from common values of

democracy and human rights, which rally its peoples, and it has preserved

the diversity of cultures and languages and the traditions which make it

what it is. Its transatlantic solidarity and the attractiveness of its

model has enabled a united Europe to withstand the pressure of

totalitarianism and to consolidate the rule of law.

The European Community stands as a beacon for the expectations of

countries near and far which watch the Union’s progress with interest as

they seek to consolidate their re-emerging democracies or rebuild a ruined


Today, the Union of the 15 Member States is negotiating the next wave of

membership with 10 countries of central and eastern Europe, and with Malta

and Cyprus. At a later stage, other countries of former Yugoslavia or which

belong to the European sphere will in turn ask to join. The taking on board

by the applicant countries of the acquis communautaire, and more generally

of the major objectives of the European Union, is central to enlargement

negotiations. For the first time in its long history, the continent is

preparing to become reunified in peace and freedom.

Such developments are momentous in terms of world balance and will have a

huge impact on Europe’s relations with the United States, Russia, Asia and

Latin America.

The key dates of the European Enlargement

1945 – After the Second World War Europe was destroyed. The main problems

facing european states were security and economic reconsrtruction.

That’s where the discussion on any integration of Europe started. The

ideas of Kudenhove-Calergi were recollected.

1950 – R. Schuman proposed to pool coal and steel resources of France and


1951 – The Paris treaty was signed: France, the Federal Republic of

Germany, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg established the

European Coal and Steel Community. This organization could regulate the

European market. It was the first step of European integration and in

terms of the enlargement – it was the original platform to enlarge.

1961 – Ten years later, after the EEC and the Euroatom were created (1957),

the UK – the leader of EFTA (1960) – applied to enter the EEC.

1963, 1965 – the situation was not that favourable for the UK. On the

initiative of De Gaulle, the French leader at that moment, France twice

vetoed the UK’s accession to the Community.

1967 – A new application for Community membership from the UK (the fourth

attempt), Denmark and Ireland.

1972 – Here we have the first enlargement: The Treaty on the accession of

Denmark, Ireland, Norway, the UK was signed in Brussels. In Denmark and

Norway the referendums were hold and Norwegian people decided not to

join the Community (they will change their mind only in 1996). So, in

1973 the agreement on accession entered in force only for three

applicants: the UK, Denmark and Ireland.

1973 – Greece applied to enter the Community. During the 70-ties the EC was

discussing the situation with Mediterranean states. Greece, spain and

Portugal were not able to join the Community because of dictatural

governments ruling there.

1981 – Finally, after the dictature collapsed, Greece entered the EC.

1986 – Five years later Spain and Portugal joined the Community.

1993 – After a long pause the enlargement was continued – the negotiations

on Austria, Sweden and Finland accession were opened.

Soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the European Community

quickly established diplomatic relations with the countries of central

Europe. During the 1990s, the European Community and its Member States

progressively concluded Association Agreements, so called 'Europe

Agreements', with ten countries of central Europe. The Europe Agreements

provide the legal basis for bilateral relations between these countries and

the EU. The European Community had already established similar Association

Agreements with Turkey (1963), Malta (1970) and Cyprus (1972). In the case

of Turkey, a Customs Union entered into force in December 1995.

1995 – Sweden, Finland and Austria joined the European Union.

1996 – Malta applied to enter the EU. This application was soon frozen till


1997 – At its summit in Luxembourg in December 1997, the European Council

decided that the enlargement process should encompass:

. the European Conference, a multilateral framework bringing together

ten central European countries, Cyprus and Turkey, which was launched

on 12 March 1998;

. the accession process, covering ten central European countries and

Cyprus, which was launched on 30 March 1998;

. the accession negotiations, which the European Council decided to

open on 31 March 1998 with six countries, as recommended by the

European Commission: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary,

Poland and Slovenia.

1998 – Malta reactivated its application for Community membership made in


1998 – The EU formally launched the process that will make enlargement

possible. It embraces the following thirteen applicant countries:

Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia,

Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia and


1999 – The Commission adopted its reports and a general composite paper on

the progress made by each of the candidate countries (ten central

European countries, Cyprus, Malta and Turkey) towards accession. They

show that all countries except Turkey fulfil the political criteria for

accession and that only Cyprus and Malta fully meet the economic

criteria. Based on these regular reports, the Commission has

recommended to open negotiations with Malta, Latvia, Lithuania,

Slovakia and also with Bulgaria and Romania but subject to certain

conditions for the latter two. The Commission has also recommended to

conduct accession negotiations through a differentiated approach taking

account of the progress made by each candidate.

1999 – A new institutional process was put in train by the decision taken

by the European Council meeting in Helsinki to convene an

intergovernmental conference with the aim inter alia of adapting the

treaties to the conditions whereby a Union enlarged to over 20 members

can function smoothly.

2000 – Negotiations with Romania, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and

Malta on the conditions for their entry into the Union and the ensuing

Treaty adjustments started. As for Turkey - The European Council

welcomed recent positive developments in Turkey, as well as its

intention to continue its reforms towards complying with the Copenhagen

criteria. In doing so, Turkey is considered as a candidate State to

join the Union on the basis of the same criteria as applied to the

other candidate States.

December, 2000 – By agreeing - on a Treaty of Nice, the EU member states

also removed the last formal obstacle to moving ahead with the EU

enlargement process. The conclusions go on to say that "the time has

now come to lend fresh impetus to the process". The summit broadly

endorsed the enlargement strategy proposed by the Commission, and

emphasised "the principle of differentiation, based on each candidate

country's own merits", and "allowance of scope for catching up". The

road map for the next 18 months will ease the way for further

negotiations, bearing in mind that those countries which are the best

prepared will continue to be able to progress more quickly, the summit


Meanwhile, the summit expressed appreciation for the efforts made by

the candidates, and requested them "to continue and speed up the

necessary reforms to prepare themselves for accession, particularly as

regards strengthening their administrative capacity, so as to be able

to join the Union as soon as possible". And it welcomed the

establishment of economic and financial dialogue with the candidate


2003 – The Union has declared that it will be ready to welcome new

countries from the start of 2003.

The weighting of votes in the future council

The Treaty of Nice signed at the summit decided not only on voting rights

for the current fifteen member states, but also on the votes that the

candidates will have as they become member states. The full list is as


Germany, United Kingdom, France and Italy – 29

Spain and Poland – 27

Romania – 14

Netherlands – 13

Greece, Czech Republic, Belgium, Hungary, Portugal – 12

Sweden, Bulgaria, Austria – 10

Slovakia, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania – 7

Latvia, Slovenia, Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg – 4

Malta – 3

Total – 342

A qualified majority in the new voting system will be 255 (74.56%).

The enlargement facing the EU today poses a unique challenge, since it is

without precedent in terms of scope and diversity: the number of

candidates, the area (increase of 34%) and population (increase of 105

million), the wealth of different histories and cultures. Third countries

will significantly benefit from an enlarged Union.

The challenges of the future

After a half century of Community history, Europeans still have a lot of

soul-searching to do: How far could and should the Union be taken in order

to maximise the strength which derives from unity, without at the same time

eroding identity and destroying the individual ethos which makes the

richness of our nations, regions and cultures? Can they move forward in

step, thanks to the natural harmony which favours consensus between 15

countries, or should they recognise divergences of approach and

differentiate their pace of integration? What are the limits of Community

Europe, at a time when so many nations, starting with the new democracies

of central and eastern Europe and the Balkans, along with Turkey, are

asking to join the process of unification in progress? How can the people

of Europe get everyone involved in the Community undertaking and give them

the feeling of a European identity which complements and goes beyond

fundamental solidarity?

All these are questions of principle, fundamental questions the answers

to which will themselves determine the specific and technical matters

addressed daily by those who have the task of taking this Community

undertaking forward.

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