Source: European Community, 2004

Since its beginning, the European Union has grown from 6 to 28 countries! View the PowerPoint presentation Timeline of the European Union for a brief history of the EU.

Accession refers to the process of joining the European Union. Try to remember the dates of accession for each member state of the EU.

In the chart below, fill in the accession year for each group of member states listed below. To help you, we’ve included some additional information on the countries’ accession to the European Union.

Choices for Year of Accession: 1951, 1973, 1981, 1986, 1995, 2004, 2007

Member States Accession Information Year of Accession
Sweden
Finland
Austria
  • Referenda were held in each of these countries on accession to the European Union.
  • Norway was one of the candidate countries in this round of enlargement, but Norwegians voted no to accession in a nation-wide referendum
 
Spain
Portugal
  • Both of these member states, just shortly prior to accession, had undergone a process of democratization following periods of authoritarian rule
 
Bulgaria
Romania
  • These countries joined the European Union in the latest round of enlargement
 
Belgium
France
Germany
Italy
Luxembourg
Netherlands
 
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Estonia
Hungary
Latvia
Lithuania
Malta
Poland
Slovakia
Slovenia
  • Many of these countries were former Warsaw Pact states or even former republics of the Soviet Union. They have recently stabilized their economies and democratized their systems of government.
 
Denmark
United Kingdom Ireland
  • The United Kingdom applied to join the European Communities in the 1960s, but was unsuccessful because France vetoed the United Kingdom’s accession
  • Denmark was the first of the Nordic countries to join the European Communities
 
Greece
  • Together with Spain and Portugal, is part of the “Mediterranean Round” of enlargement
  • Had also recently disposed of an undemocratic government
 

To find out more about enlargement, read the Enlargement FAQ. But be sure to come back to this page to discuss the follow questions with some of your classmates!

Discussion

1. The EU’s Copenhagen Criteria stipulates that in order to join the EU, a country must:

  • be a stable democracy that respects the rule of law, human rights, and the protection of minorities
  • have a functioning market economy, and, adopt the rules, policies and standards that make up EU law


What other criteria do you think are necessary criteria in order for a country to join the EU?

2. What do you think are the benefits of EU enlargement for the candidate countries? For the existing member states? For the rest of the world?

3. What do you think are the disadvantages of EU enlargement for the candidate countries? For the existing member states? For the rest of the world?

There are currently five EU candidate countries:

DID YOU KNOW…

In December 2009 Serbia became the most recent country to apply for EU membership. In March 2012, the European Council agreed unanimously to start negotiations with Serbia, making it an EU Candidate country!

Sources

European Commission: Enlargement | FR

Activities of the European Union: Enlargement | FR

European Parliament: Committee on Enlargement

DID YOU KNOW…

That after the enlargement in May 2004,

  • the European Union’s physical area increased by 34%?
  • …and the total population of the EU increased by 105 million people?!

News

Q&A: EU Enlargement from BBC news, 1 January 2007

La documentation francaise – Elargissement de l’Union Européenne

The Guardian (UK) – Special report on the 2004 Enlargement