Enlargement of the European Union

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Template:Life in the European Union The Enlargement of the European Union is the growth in size of the European Union, from the six founding member states in 1952, to the 25 current member states. There were five successive enlargements during this period, with the largest occurring on May 1, 2004, when 10 new member states joined. Further enlargement is scheduled for 2007, with the addition of two candidate states, and in time the European Union may grow to 30 member states. The process of enlargement is sometimes referred to as European integration.

In order to join the European Union, a state needs to fulfill the economic and political conditions generally known as the Copenhagen criteria (after the Copenhagen summit in June 1993). Also, according to the EU Treaty, each current member state and the European Parliament have to agree.

Past enlargements

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States colour-shaded according to entry (darkest being earliest)
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Growth of the European Union

Main article: History of the European Union

  • 1981 (Second Enlargement)Greece accedes to the EC.



The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 provided a historic opportunity for further enlargement. Correspondingly, the European Community swiftly established diplomatic relations with other countries of Central and Eastern Europe. In addition, the European Community's Phare programme was created in 1989 to provide financial support for potential accession countries in order for them to expand and reform their economies.

Copenhagen European Council Criteria

Phare became a tool to help candidate countries reach the previously mentioned ['Copenhagen criteria], developed in 1993 to guide the enlargement process. (see also Copenhagen criteria) These state that the candidate countries must have achieved:

  • 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 & monetary union


Madrid European Council Criteria

  • December, 1993 — the Madrid European Council revises 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.


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Treaty of Accession of Portugal to European Communities
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The heads of State or government and the ministers of foreign affairs of the 25 EU member states following the signature of the Treaty of Accession.

Rationale for enlargements

The latest round of enlargements on 1 May 2004 increased the EU's membership from 15 countries to 25, and its population increased to 450 million.

Reasons for the enlargement process include BBC report:

  • to unite Europe in peace after a history of division and conflict
  • to extend stability and prosperity to its new member states, making Europe a safer place
  • the Union can be used to stimulate economic and social reforms in the new member states
  • to attract foreign investment to achieve more rapid economic growth rates.

Regular Reports

In order to assess progress acheived by countries in preparing for accession to the European Union, the European Commission submits 'Regular Reports' to the European Council. These serve as the basis upon which the Council takes decisions on negotiations or their extension to other candidates. Since 1993, the Commission has presented a complete set of Regular Reports on a yearly basis, covering the 10 associated countries in Central and Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lituania, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia) as well as Cyprus, Malta and Turkey.

[Regular Reports 1998] [Regular Reports 1999] [Regular Reports 2000] [Regular Reports 2001] [Regular Reports 2002] [Regular Reports 2003] [Regular Reports 2004]

Current enlargement process

Acceding countries

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Population and GDP per capita of EU member states and candidates.

Bulgaria and Romania are currently scheduled to join the EU on January 1, 2007. This date was firmly set at the Thessaloniki Summit in 2003 and confirmed at Brussels on June 18, 2004. The country reports of October 2004 also affirmed the January 1, 2007 date of accession for both Bulgaria and Romania. Bulgaria and Romania signed their Treaty of Accession on April 25, 2005 at Luxembourg's Neumuenster Abbey.

Bulgaria

Within the framework of integration meetings held between the EU member states and the Republic of Bulgaria, the latest 'Association Committee' was held on the 22 June 2004. It confirmed overall good progress for the preparation of accession, however, it highlighted the need for further reform of Bulgaria's Judicial structures (particularly in its pre-trial phases), as well as the need for further efforts to fight against corruption and organised crime (including the trafficking of people). There has also been limited progress in with regards to the integration of the Roma community. The findings are reflected in the 2004 Regular Report.

Bulgaria's objective is EU membership in 2007, the Thessalniki Summit Conclusions in 2003 as well as the Brussels Summit Conclusions of June 2004 states that the EU supports these objectives. The Brussels European Council of December 17 2004 confirmed the conclusion of accession negotiations with Bulgaria, welcoming it as a member in January 2007.

Romania

According to the last Commission Regular Report 2004, Romania continues to fulfil the political criteria and it has further consolidated and deepened the stability of its institutions. However, the effectiveness of the reforms of the public administration and the judiciary is dependent on Romania's ability to effectively implement the changes. For example, corruption in Romania continues to be serious and widespread.

The Brussels Summit conclusions of December 2004 supports Romania's accession for 2007. The European Council also considered that Romania will be able to assume all the obligations of membership at the envisaged time of its accession, provided that it continues its efforts to that end and completes all necessary reforms and commitments undertaken, in particular important commitments regarding Justice, 'Competition' and Environment.

The Accession treaty was subsequently signed in Luxembourg on 25 April 2005.

Candidate countries

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Dark green: current members; light green: acceding countries; orange: states in negotiations

Croatia

Croatia applied for EU membership in 2003, and the European Commission recommended making it an official candidate in early 2004. Candidate country status was granted to Croatia by the European Council (the EU's heads of government) in mid-2004 and a date for the beginning of entry negotiations, while originally set for early 2005, was postponed to October of the same year. As of late 2005, Croatia is undergoing the screening process.

After Slovenia, Croatia has recovered best from the break-up of the former Yugoslavia and so hopes to become the second former Yugoslav state to become a member. It has a stable market economy and better statistical indicators than some of the states that joined in 2004. Croatia's bid, however, is currently hampered by several political problems, most of which are related to the break-up of Yugoslavia.

The relations of Croatia with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) have continuously been cited by the EU officials as something that requires further improvement. Some of the current member states had stalled ratification of the EU Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Croatia because of this.

The European Council, after its summit of December 20, 2004, set the following March 17 as the date to start entry negotiations, provided that Croatia continued to cooperate fully with the ICTY. On March 16, 2005 – the day before talks were begin – the EU postponed the commencement of negotiations; because the ICTY prosecution assessed the Croatian efforts to capture the fugitive general Ante Gotovina as neither timely nor sufficient (the ICTY had indicted General Gotovina of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but he has been at large since 2001). As soon as the chief prosecutor of ICTY Carla del Ponte certified that Croatia fully cooperates with the ICTY, the entry negotiations began later that same day.

Croatia must also contend with long-standing border issues with Slovenia – a series of border disputes could yet threaten Slovenia's support for Croatia's accession, but their otherwise good trade relations have so far precluded this.

Timeline

  • October 29, 2001 - Croatia signs the Accession and Stabilization Agreement
  • February 21, 2003 - initial application, submittal of the answers to the questionnaire
  • April 20, 2004 - European Commission replies to the answers with a positive opinion
  • June 18, 2004 - European Council accepts the application and Croatia becomes an official candidate
  • December 20, 2004 - European Council sets the date for the entry negotiations to begin March 17, 2005
  • March 16, 2005 - negotiations postponed
  • October 3/4, 2005 - the beginning of negotiations
  • October 20, 2005 - beginning of the screening process

Possible accession dates

In late 2005, the EU officials projected that the accession would likely happen between 2008 and 2010.

The finalization of all chapters of the acquis communautaire is expected in 2008 or 2009, while signing the accession treaty would happen in the year after. Before starting negotiations with Croatia, the acquis was divided into 36 chapters, 5 more than the usual 31; the new chapters, previously part of the agricultural policy, are areas expected to be troublesome, as they were with the other applicants.

Croatia had been aiming for a 2007 accession date, but this was unlikely because it would have to break Slovakia's record of 2.5 years of negotiations to complete the process. It has been remarked by Olli Rehn that the EC does expect a similar speed from Croatia.

Turkey

Main article: Accession of Turkey to the European Union

The status of Turkey with regard to the EU has become a matter of major significance and considerable controversy in recent years. Turkey has been an Associate Member of the EU and its predecessors since 1963; the country formally applied in 1987, but 12 years passed before it was recognized as a candidate country in 1999. After a summit on December 17, 2004, the European Council announced that membership negotiations with Turkey were officialy opened on October 3, 2005. The screening process began on October 20, 2005.

Arguments in favour of Turkey joining include the belief that this would bolster democratic institutions in Turkey, strengthen the EU economy, and reward Turkey for its strong and consistent pro-NATO stance. Proponents also argue that it abides by all conditions for accession. Some believe that the EU can no longer refuse Turkey, as it has had an open candidacy for over 40 years, and has made major improvements in human rights in order to satisfy the entry conditions.

Those opposed to Turkey's accession make diverse arguments. First, only a small fraction of Turkish territory lies in the common geographical definition of Europe. More importantly, Turkey refuses to officially recognise Cyprus, a current EU member state, and it is exercising economic sanctions against Armenia. Many opponents also argue that Turkey's current government still does not respect many key principles expected of a liberal democracy because of discrimination against ethnic minorities like the Kurds, and maintaining of an extreme form of forced-secularism, often targeting its own Muslim majority. The EU has expressed some concerns recently about the rise of nationalism in Turkey and the adverse effect thereof on the accession process.

Future enlargement possibilities

The European Union has tended to enlarge along regional lines, adding groups of nearby nations. (A notable exception was the accession of Greece.) Currently, the EU is very interested in the integration of the Balkan states and Turkey. Of Eastern Europe, Heather Grabbe of the Centre for European Reform has said, "Belarus is too authoritarian, Moldova too poor, Ukraine too large, and Russia too scary for the EU to contemplate offering membership any time soon." Due to the 2004 "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine, and the "Rose Revolution" in Georgia in 2003, both countries have begun reform programs, thus possibly keeping an "open door" for both Ukraine and the South Caucasus.

The following sections discuss the situation of those states, which possess European territory or have expressed a desire to join the EU.

European states

In the Treaty of Maastricht (Article 49), it is stated that any European country that respects the principles of the European Union may apply to join. Therefore any European state could apply and be accepted to join. The Copenhagen European Council set out the conditions for EU membership in June 1993 in the so-called "Copenhagen criteria." The definition of the borders of Europe can be controversial, but countries in the Council of Europe that fall onto the border all have a significant claim for EU membership (as shown with the accession of geographically Asian Cyprus).

Balkans

The EU relations with the Western Balkans states (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania) were recently moved from the "External Relations" to the "Enlargement" policy segment. These states currently are not formal candidate countries, but only "potential candidate countries" [1].

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (which disintegrated into the states of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Croatia, and Slovenia) was a non-democratic communist state, with a relatively benign regime compared to Soviet satellites. It had a good economy, and many citizens lived higher above the poverty line than those of member states Greece, Spain, and Portugal. The civil war changed this but has led to independent democratic states, which have all adopted EU integration as an aim of foreign policy.

Albania, a separate Balkan state, was for a long period under international isolation similar to that of modern day North Korea and very impoverished. It has also adopted EU integration as an aim.

The 2003 European Council summit in Thessaloniki set integration of the Western Balkans as a priority of EU expansion. A further meeting in Mamaia, Romania, concluded that "Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Republic of Macedonia, and Albania are considered likely to join the EU between 2010 and 2015" depending on their fulfilment of the adhesion criteria. This summit was attended by two EU members, five countries now in the EU, acceding countries Bulgaria and Romania, and the seven EU hopefuls (Croatia, Serbia-Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Moldova, and Ukraine). Since that meeting, Croatia has become an EU candidate country.

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia applied to become an official candidate on March 22, 2004. On November 9, 2005 the European Commission recommended that Macedonia become a candidate state.

The country will have to resolve its disputes with Greece (over the name Macedonia), or at least improve relations, before it can become a member state. A fragile peace is maintained with underlying ethnic tensions over Albanians in the west demanding greater autonomy. Unlike Serbia it still maintains sovereignty over all its territory. Macedonian officials have suggested that it could join between 2010 and 2015.

Since 11/09/05 FYROM is an official candidate to join the European Union. However, there is no decision on beginning talks for membership yet. This is due to be taken in December 2005.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina still has many economic as well as political problems. Recently it has been making slow but steady progress, including co-operation with the War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague, so the outlook is positive.

It is expected that negotiations on Stabilisation and Association Agreement will start during the year 2005. This is the first step before making an application for candidate status and membership negotiations.

The Union may show some leniency regarding its economy due to the political issues at stake. Former President of the European Commission Romano Prodi has stated that Bosnia has a chance of joining the EU soon after Croatia, somewhere around 2010, but it is entirely dependent on progress and that it may be delayed as late as 2014.

Serbia and Montenegro

Serbia and Montenegro may join separately because of economic disputes between the two republics which still have to settle the decision of whether to continue in a union (around 2006).

Serbia has to deal with ethnic tension in the region of Kosovo (which may lead to independence for Kosovo) as well as poverty in the south and widespread corruption. Montenegro is experiencing ecological, judicial and crime-related problems. Serbia and Montenegro began the reform process in 2000.

The European Commission and the government of Serbia and Montenegro are currently planning to prepare the country for joining in 2011, together with Bosnia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. In a report published on April 12, 2005, the European Commission gave a positive recommendation for the start of talks on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement. The recommendation to start SAA talks was accepted on October 3 2005 and negotiations are expected to start during 2005.

Albania

Albania's accession to the Union depends on economic improvement and the resolution of border disputes. Given its comparatively recent engagement with Western European politics, it is impossible to predict when it may join but it hopes to do so within a decade. Its entry has been set as a priority by the European Commission so as to stabilise the Balkans. Albania hopes to join alongside the rest of the Balkans between 2010-2015. Albania has already started Stabilisation and Association Agreement negotiations and can be expected to finish them in 2006.

The European Free Trade Association

Switzerland

Switzerland took part in negotiating the EEA agreement with the EU and signed the agreement on 2 May 1992 and submitted an application for accession to the EU on 20 May 1992. A Swiss referendum held on 6 December 1992 rejected EEA membership. As a consequence, the Swiss Government decided to suspend negotiations for EU accession until further notice, but its application remains open. The popular initiative entitled "Yes to Europe!", calling for the opening of immediate negotiations for EU membership, was rejected on March 4, 2001. The Swiss Federal Council (which is in favour of EU membership) had advised the population to vote against this referendum since the preconditions for the opening of negotiations had not been met. It is thought that the fear of a loss of neutrality and independence is the key issue against membership among eurosceptics. EU membership however continues to be the objective of the government and is a "long-term aim" of the Federal Council. The Swiss federal government policy has recently undergone substantial U-turns in policy, however, concerning specific agreements with the EU on freedom of movement for people, workers and areas concerning tax evasion have been addressed within the Swiss banking system. This was a result of the first Switzerland-EU summit in May 2004 where nine bilateral agreements were signed. Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, said the agreements "moved Switzerland closer to Europe." Joseph Deiss of the Swiss Federal Council said, "We might not be at the very centre of Europe but we're definitely at the heart of Europe". He continued, "We're beginning a new era of relations between our two entities." [2].


The European Economic Area

The European Economic Area (EEA) came into being on January 1, 1994 following an agreement between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European Union (EU). It was designed to allow EFTA countries to participate in the European Single Market without having to join the EU. EEA consists of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, as well as the EU member states. Referance to EEA is commonly noted as "EU25+3" in official EU documents. Some consider that the three EFTA members are in a form of associated EU membership, since the agreement covers considerable parts of what a full membership would cover.

The (EFTA) members of the EEA are:

Norway

Norway, like most other Scandinavian states, is reluctant to surrender sovereignty to a supranational entity. The Norwegian government also wishes to keep control of fishery resources in their territorial waters. Norway has applied four times for EEC and EU membership. In 1962 and 1967 France vetoed Norway's entry, while the later 1972 referendum and the 1994 referendum were both lost by the government. In late 2004, Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik suggested that the debate about joining the EU might be restarted in 2007. The 2005 constitution referenda in France and the Netherlands have however made this less likely, and in mid-October 2005, after the elections, Jens Stoltenberg stated that there wouldn't be a new attempt at EU membership under his government.

Thorbjørn Jagland has proposed that Norway and Iceland should prepare a common strategy before launching membership negotiations with the EU. His Icelandic counterpart has expressed agreement.

Norway is also a member of the Schengen treaty and an associate member of the Western European Union as well as other areas normally considered as under the EU umbrella of treaties and agreements.

Further reading: *History of Norway-EU relations from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Iceland

Iceland has never applied for EU membership but is already associated with the union through the EEA where it has access to the Single market. Iceland is also a member of the Schengen treaty.

Application for EU membership is not on the current centre-right government's agenda and none of the political parties have explicitly expressed that Iceland should join the union. The Left-Green Movement has been firmly opposed to membership and the same goes for the conservative Independence Party, a member of the ruling coalition, although its chairman Davíð Oddsson indicated in a speech in January 2005 that a policy change was not ruled out depending on how the EU will evolve in coming years.

Fear of losing control over the fishery resources in its territorial waters is the single largest issue keeping Iceland reluctant to join the EU, also a large issue for Norway. Since these two countries have so much in common it is generally expected that they would join together as it would not be easy for Iceland to be the only Nordic country to remain outside the EU. Prime Minister Halldór Ásgrímsson of the Progressive Party is regarded as willing to start working on negotiation strategies, however a policy change within the Independence Party or a different government would be needed before membership negotiations could start.

Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein is (like Norway and Iceland) a member of the European Economic Area. It might consider joining the EU if Switzerland joined. If it attained membership it would be by far the smallest member state of the European Union — this might require a significant rearrangement of voting arrangements in the European Parliament.

Eastern Europe

Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, which are or have been closely linked to Russia, will probably remain outside the Union, at least for a significant amount of time. All belong to the CIS and planned further integration into an EU-like model would hinder European aspirations. They are not currently on any enlargement agenda as the Union is currently focused on the Balkan states and Turkey but after this inevitable enlargement it is probable that they will be the logical next wave of enlargement. A summit in Mamaia, Eastern Romania, in May 2004 has shown this to be the case, though only Ukraine and Moldova were present, as Belarus is currently not concerned with membership. (Also note that the EU's Neighbourhood Policy includes these three states.)

Ukraine

Most political factions of Ukraine advocate joining the EU and developing ties with Europe. However many in the EU are more doubtful concerning Ukraine's prospects. In 2002, EU Expansion Commissioner Günter Verheugen said that "a European perspective" for Ukraine does not necessarily mean membership in 10 or 20 years, however, that does not mean it is not a possibility. A Ukraine-EU Troika meeting in April 2004, on the eve of the newest wave of expansion, dealt a blow to Ukraine's European aspiration when the EU ministers failed to grant market economy status to Ukraine.

For the time being, Ukraine will most likely develop some sort of intermediate relation with the EU as it is strongly backed by all major political forces in Poland, an EU member with strong historical ties with Ukraine (through the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth).

The Orange Revolution of late 2004 improved Ukraine's European prospects: Opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko hinted that he would press the EU for deeper ties, and described a four-point plan: the acknowledgement of Ukraine as a market economy, entry in the World Trade Organisation, associate membership with the European Union, and lastly full membership. [3] In a similar way, the Ukrainian government asked Brussels to give Ukraine a clearer prospect for membership, saying that "The approved Action Plan reflects only the level of Ukraine-EU relations that we could have reached before the presidential elections in 2004" [4]

On January 13, 2005 the European Parliament almost unanimously (467 votes to 19 in favour) passed a motion stating the wish of the European Parliament to establish closer ties with Ukraine with the possibility of EU membership. Though there is still a long way to go before negotiations about EU membership can start, the European Commission has stated that future EU membership will not be ruled out. Yushchenko has responded to the apathetic mood of the Commission by stating that he intends to send an application for EU membership "in the near future" and that he intends to scrutinise Ukraine's relationship with the CIS in order to assure EU integration is possible and if not to make it possible. Several EU leaders have already stated support for closer economic ties with Ukraine but have stopped short of direct support for such a bid. On 21 March 2005, Polish Foreign Minister Adam Daniel Rotfeld noted that Poland will in every way promote Ukraine's desire to be integrated with the EU, get the status of a market-economy country and join the WTO. He also said "At the present moment, we should talk concrete steps in cooperation instead of engaging in empty talk about European integration". Three days later, a poll of the six largest EU nations conducted by a French research company showed that the European public would be more likely to accept Ukraine as a future EU member than any other country.

In October, 2005 Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said that the future of Ukraine is in the EU. On November 9, 2005, however, the European Commission has in a new strategy paper suggested that the current enlargement agenda (Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Croatia and in the future the other ex-Yugoslavian countries) could block the possibility of a future accession of Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova. Commissioner Olli Rehn said that the EU should avoid overstretch, adding that the current enlargement agenda is already very heavy. [5]

Moldova

Moldova currently has little hope of joining, since it is not only hampered by poverty but still currently leaning more towards Russia (through the CIS) than the EU and facing political problems in Transnistria and only recently (1995) resolved problems in ethnically separate Gagauzia. Its relationship with Romania, which is set to soon become a EU member, has also been strained, with Moldova publicly accusing Romania in various aspects. The prospect of union with Romania is constantly an issue, even though many people are expecting this not to happen. If Romania joins the EU, and Moldova unifies with the country later, it could automatically become part of the EU just as East Germany joined the EU when it reunified with West Germany in 1990.

The government has stated that Moldova has European aspirations but there has been little progress. On May 1, 2004 many EU enthusiasts waving the EU flags found their flags confiscated by police and some were arrested under the clause of "anti-nationalism." At present it remains the poorest country in Europe with rampant corruption and a sadly booming trade in people.

On October 6, 2005 the EU opened its permanent mission in Chişinău, the capital city of Moldova.

The Republic of Moldova could probably automatically became a part of the EU once it unites with the rest of Romania after Romania itself enters. A precedent for this was set by the so called German Democratic Republic in 1990.

Belarus

Belarus is presently perceived by many to be too authoritarian to join the EU, having been often called the last dictatorship in Europe. It has a fairly high standard of living in comparison to Moldova and Ukraine, but private business is virtually non-existent. Foreign investors stay away and even Moscow has shown signs of exasperation in recent years. If conditions remain the same, it is unlikely that Belarus will ever join the EU.

However, a large Belarusian student group Zubr have linked themselves to Otpor, Kmara and Pora, all movements which helped to oust rulers in a peaceful revolutionary manner. If dictatorship were replaced by democracy, as is becoming an increasing trend in countries previously part of the USSR and/or communist, membership would quite likely be a final aim of the Union as well as the country. Poland will no doubt be the chief EU member to lobby for a Belarusian EU membership, as it is already for Ukraine.

Russia

At present, the prospect of Russia joining any time in the near future is slim.

Under the new voting system proposed in the draft EU Constitution Russia would cause a huge imbalance within the union due to its large population. It also faces the problem in that its territory is mostly in Asia, similar to Turkey (although unlike Turkey, most major population centres, and the centres of power, are in European Russia). The difference with Turkey would be however that due to Russia's large territory, more than half of the territory of the European Union would be - paradoxally - situated in Asia.

The gap between the rich and the poor is extremely large, the economy needs improvement and corruption is also a major issue. Added to this the view by some European states that Russia is fuelling conflicts in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistria for its own gain make any prospect of membership very slim.

Russia is also thought to be too authoritarian. Amnesty International and other human rights organisations have recently declared the Russian press to be controlled. Human rights continue to be an issue and the suspicion cast on Russia after years of communism is still vast. There are also numerous disputes within the Federation, especially in Chechnya.

Russian relationships with Europe and the USA have improved with a NATO-Russia pact being proposed as well as EU support for WTO membership and EU-Russia bilateral meetings, but the Kaliningrad exclave is still an issue as well as the fact that Russia has not yet ratified treaties recognising the territorial integrity of Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia. Should Russia apply to join, steps similar to Turkey's would have to be followed. The earliest it could join would be the year 2020, although at this stage, any speculation on its entry remains very premature.

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan which has a portion of its territory in Europe is considered as a European nation (as expressed in an official Council of Europe offer for full membership in 1999) but the subject of joining the EU has not been even remotely discussed. Membership would probably require either Russia or Azerbaijan to be a member beforehand. Kazakhstan is approximately 2/3 the size of the EU at present, and if both Russia and Kazakhstan became EU members the EU would be in the ironic position of having the majority of its territory in Asia. This would not be without precedent as, prior to Greenland's secession from the EEC in 1985, the majority of EU territory was in North America.

South Caucasus

These states have been the site of much conflict in 1990s. Currently, there seems to be an overwhelming feeling of hope in the region's future. Their membership in the EU would be controversial as they are often considered to be politically in Europe but not geographically. They have contributed to European culture and the EU has been said to express interest in their integration and the hope to end war in Europe and increase prosperity.

The Caucasus states are, however, closely linked with Russia and would need to concentrate more on their European partners to attain candidate membership. It is unclear as to when they may join but they are part of the EU Neighbourhood policy and are often referred to as part of "a wider Europe". Since their only land contact with existing EU states is through either Russia or Turkey, it is possible that they could only join after Turkey did so. Greece, a member since 1981, has no land links with the rest of the EU, and will not until both Romania and Bulgaria have joined, though Greece is considerably closer to the rest of the union and unencumbered by powerful neighbours like Russia in between.

Armenia

Armenia is still in conflict over the disputed area Nagorno-Karabakh with neighbouring Azerbaijan. A ten year ceasefire has been in place, but tensions are high, and with Azeri military spending on the increase, there is fear a war could be at hand. The country's economy is growing, but at an incredibly slow pace. Foreign investors are said to be extremely wary. Armenia is also in the embarrassing position of losing 20% of its population in recent years to hopes of a better life abroad.

Whilst Armenia shares European culture and considers itself to be part of Europe, it has not expressed the wish to join the EU, although public opinion suggests the move for membership would be welcomed. It will have to resolve disputes and battle corruption. The Metsamor nuclear power plant, which is sited some 40km west of the Armenian capital Yerevan, is built on top of one of the world's most active seismic zones and so would have to be closed for any contemplation of their joining. Recently Armenia has told the EU they will not close the plant, which has led to the freezing of €100m worth of aid by the EU and deterioration of the Armenia-EU relationship. No speculation into Armenia's dates of membership can currently be made but of all the nations of the Caucasus it is the least favoured due to fewer natural resources and its close relationship with Russia.

Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is a predominantly Muslim country. Conflict over the disputed area Nagorno-Karabakh would need to be resolved. Its military spending is becoming somewhat of an alarm to the EU, which wishes to ease tensions in the area. The oil-rich country has made improvements to its infrastructure but much of the money does not seem to find its way into its fragile economy.

The recent presidential elections in Azerbaijan were disputed by the opposition and have been criticised for being not entirely democratic, free or fair by international observers. This is one of the main obstacles ahead of a possible EU application from Azerbaijan, although it has not expressed wishes to join the EU but, if it did, one can assume that integration would be long delayed. It would most likely face difficulties similar to Turkey's. Azerbaijan's chances of membership would, however, be greatly increased if Georgia joined first.

Georgia

Georgia has recently undergone substantial reforms. Under Georgia's new president Mikhail Saakashvili, the wish to join the EU has been explicitly expressed on several occasions and the links to the EU and the USA are being strengthened. Disputes continue over South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In Ajaria, the authoritarian leader Aslan Abashidze was forced to resign in May 2004.

Georgia is the most favoured Caucasus country to join the EU, but territorial disputes and corruption are still an issue. It has not, as yet, applied for EU membership, but the President has said the country would be ready in three years' time—however, it is uncertain if the EU would be. It is debatable whether any estimate on a membership date can be made at this stage.

Microstates

As for the other very small European microstates, such as San Marino, Andorra and Monaco, it is unlikely that they will ever join, as their very existence as sovereign nations is tightly bound up with their special economic laws, which are not compatible with EU standards. In the case of Andorra, however, a future accession to the EU is not entirely impossible, should either Andorra reform their fiscal system or the EU reform its stance on interaction with microstates [6]. Vatican City is also unlikely to join the EU due to its unique status.

Despite the fact that Europe's microstates will probably remain politically separated from the EU for the foreseeable future, their economies have always been tightly related with their neighbours, and all of the microstates (save Liechtenstein, which uses the Swiss franc), use the Euro currency (San Marino, Monaco and Vatican City mint their own Euro coins as well).

Non-European states

In the Treaty of Maastricht (Article 49), it is stated that any European country that respects the principles of the European Union may apply to join. No mention is made of enlarging the EU to include non-European countries, but the precedents with turning off Morocco's application and speaking about Israel's closest integration, "just short of full membership" suggests that currently it is impossible for non-European states to get full EU membership.

However, some non-European states have different degrees of integration with the EU stipulated by agreements, always short of membership. The current frameworks for development of such agreements are the Barcelona process and the European Neighbourhood Policy.

Cape Verde

Cape Verde is an island nation of the Atlantic Ocean and former Portuguese colony. In March 2005, former Portuguese president Mário Soares launched a petition urging the European Union to start membership talks with it, saying that Cape Verde could act as a bridge between Africa, Latin America and the EU [7].

Cape Verde has a culture based on Christian values where about 97% of the population is Christian, and its background is a harmonious fusion between European and African backgrounds, where most of the population (about 80%) is mixed Portuguese and African, less than 20% is African, while about 1% is of (unmixed) European descent. Because of this Cape Verdeans find it hard to define themselves as either Europeans or Africans. They regard themselves as either both or as unique(i.e. they regard themselves as Cape Verdeans and not as Africans and/or Europeans).

Though Cape Verde's GDP per capita based on PPP is only 1/5 to that of Turkey (according to the CIA Factbook 2005), its culture and values are considered to lean more towards Europe than Turkey's. Freedom of speech is at the same level as in any EU country. Democracy is very well implemented and there is alternation of parties in the government. Illiteracy is low when compared with Africa, about 20%. Most of the exports and imports of Cape Verde are for and from the European Union, and the economy is based on services with its currency, the escudo, pegged to the euro.

Although the Cape Verde archipelago is geographically African, there have been similar situations before: Cyprus is an island state which despite geographicaly Asian has already joined the Council of Europe and the EU, while the island of Malta, another EU member, is considered by some as part of the African continent. Futhermore, the Cape Verde Islands are part of the same island group as the Canary Islands (part of Spain) and Madeira Islands (part of Portugal), known as Macaronesia. However, recognition of Cape Verde as a European nation stays problematic at political level, because the country has virtually no presence at European organisations.

Israel

The Israeli government has hinted several times that a EU membership bid is a possibility. It is unknown whether talks will begin, given the current instability in the Middle East. How Israel's Law of Return would interact with the free migration of citizens within Europe is also an unresolved issue. Most international criticism of the occupation of the Palestinian territories comes from European capitals and the occupation would certainly not pass European human rights standards; general public opinion of Israel is also particularly poor within the EU.

As in the cases of Tunisia and Morocco, the status of being geographically outside Europe will preclude its inclusion as full member into the EU as well, but it can get a large degree of integration through the current and future EU Neighbourhood Policies - the Spanish foreign minister Moratinos spoke out for a 'privileged partnership, offering all the benefits of EU membership, without participation in the institutions'). On 11 January 2005, industry commissioner and vice president of the commission Günter Verheugen even suggested the possibility of a monetary union and common market with Israel. An argument for the inclusion of Israel into the EU is that it has a mostly European (or better: Europeanised) culture and thus forms an exclave in a huge Arabian area. Allowing Israel into the EU would, however, create a precedent for other non-European countries to apply for membership, which most Europeans find rather undesirable.

Israel however is like Turkey (but unlike Tunisia and Morocco) accepted as a a member of UEFA and the Eurovision song contest, two non-political European organisations, which could mean that there is some sort of acceptance of Israel as an European state. Nevertheless, Israel is not a Council of Europe member (unlike Turkey) which could very well mean that Israel will not be regarded as European.

Tunisia and Morroco

Tunisia entered into an Association Agreement with the European Union in 1995 which started removing tariffs and other trade barriers on most goods in the 1998-2008 period. Once the free trade area is fully functional, the status of Tunisia with regards to the EU will be similar to the present status of Norway and Iceland. However, no further involvement is planned beyond that point.

Morocco has submitted applications to join the EU several times, but it has been turned down. In 1987 the European Commission rejected its application on the grounds that it did not consider Morocco a European country. Other factors such as the developing economy or unresolved border issues with several of its neighbours and the occupation of Western Sahara are hindering even adoption of other policies like those applied to Tunisia (path to closest possible integration without full membership).

See also

See also

External links

Template:EU countries and candidates

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