Future enlargement of the European Union

Future enlargement of the European Union

The future enlargement of the European Union is open to any European country which is democratic, operates a free market or mixed economy, and is willing to accept all previous EU law. Past enlargement has brought membership from six to twenty-seven members since the foundation of the European Union (as the European Coal and Steel Community by the Inner Six in 1952).

These criteria are included in the Copenhagen criteria, agreed in 1993, and the Treaty of Maastricht (Article 49). Whether a country is European or not is a subject to political assessment by the EU institutions, but countries in the Council of Europe that fall onto the border between Europe and Asia all have a significant claim for EU membership, as shown with the accession of geographically Asian, but culturally European, Cyprus.

At present, a country must first sign a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU before applying for membership, which, if successful, will result in the state being awarded the status of an official candidate. Negotiations then take place where it adopts EU norms which, once fully taken on board, will result in accession. The Western Balkan states are currently adopting SAA agreements with Croatia and Macedonia joining Turkey in achieving candidate status.

The European Union has tended to enlarge along regional lines, adding groups of nearby nations. Currently, the EU is very interested in the integration of the Balkan states. 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." [] he repeated this statement on 11 October 2007, with the comment that " [t] he only surprise could be Iceland, if they soon apply for membership". [ 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 that is not currently an official candidate. Portugal also publicly stated it supports Ukraine's EU accession. [ [http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90777/90853/6435741.html Portugal supports Ukraine's accession bid to NATO, EU - People's Daily Online ] ]

In October 2005, Commission president José Manuel Barroso said that the future of Ukraine is "in" the EU. On 9 November 2005, however, the European Commission has in a new strategy paper suggested that the current enlargement agenda (Croatia followed by the other ex-Yugoslav countries and Albania) could block the possibility of a future accession of Ukraine, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, and Moldova. Commissioner Olli Rehn said that the EU should avoid overstretch, adding that the current enlargement agenda is already very heavy. [ [http://euobserver.com/9/20289 EUobserver article] (subscription only)]


The government has stated that Moldova has European aspirations but there has been little progress. In 2005 the ruling Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova reoriented their foreign policy towards Europe.] and some Canadians have desired membership, though in a more tongue-in-cheek manner than Cape Verde. []

Cape Verde's per capita GDP is lower than any of the current member states, accession countries, or candidate countries. However, it is higher than that of some of the EU-designated "potential candidate countries" of the Western Balkans. Most of the imports and exports of Cape Verde are from and to the European Union, and it has a service-based economy. Its currency, the escudo, is pegged to the euro.

Although the Cape Verde archipelago is geographically in Africa, there have been similar situations before. Cyprus is an island nation which, despite being geographically in Asia, has already joined both the Council of Europe and the EU. Furthermore, 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. There is currently no political recognition by the EU of Cape Verde as a European state, but unlike in the case of Morocco, there is no formal rejection either.

Recently Cape Verde has been distancing itself from its regional African partners and forging closer ties with the EU. In a move signaling its preparation to loosen ties with the West African regional bloc, the government of Cape Verde in September 2006 declared its intentions on suspending the ECOWAS free movement of goods and trade. Prime Minister José Maria Neves announced that his country will start imposing restrictions on the entrance of citizens from all ECOWAS member states. This is also an effort to limit the recent rise of illegal immigration of other West African nationals using Cape Verde and its proximity to the Canary Islands as a springboard towards Europe.

ee also

* Member State of the European Union
* Enlargement of the European Union
* Countries bordering the European Union

Notes and references

External links

* [http://europa.eu/pol/enlarg/index_en.htm Enlargement] – Europa
* [http://www.ena.lu?lang=2&doc=20806 European Union Member States and applicant countries] – European NAvigator

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