The EU Enlargement Process Analysis

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The aim of the group is to gain a first class mark. We want this report to represent our ability to work efficiently together in a group. We endeavoured to produce an end product, which is concise and thorough, highlighting the enlargement aspects of the EU.

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Our objective is therefore to fully research all areas of the EU enlargement, as our question is ‘Enlargement rationale; How much bigger should the EU expand and why?’ Upon completion of this report the goal is to have gained a broader knowledge on the European Union (EU) as a whole and have a good understanding of current major issues.


The EU enlargement process is very rigorous. In the past the European Union has undergone many rounds of enlargement (see fig 1). But to what conditions and guidelines must candidate nations comply by? The main guideline is the ‘Copenhagen Criteria’ which was signed on 21st/22nd June, 1993. This states that by the time candidates join, they must according to the Folketing EU Information centre:

“[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� (Folketing, conclusions of the presidency).

These criterion were laid down by the heads of state and government of the member states at the European council meeting in Copenhagen in 1993 (ibid).

In outline the Copenhagen Criteria can be divided into three conditions, which form the minimum entry requirements, before a country is considered for EU membership. These are:

The political criterion i.e. democracy, rule of law, human rights and respect and protection for minorities.

The economic criterion i.e. a functioning market economy and must be capable of withstanding the pressure of competition and market forces in the European Union.

The criterion presupposing the ability to incorporate one entire body of laws and regulations of the EU – the ‘aquis communautairé’

(Source – Folketing EU Information centre)

The country must be able to assume all the obligations flowing from membership, including the aim of political, economic and monetary union (ibid). After all of these requirements, the country is ‘screened’ and if approved, the Council of the European Union and its country draft a ‘Treaty of Accession’. This then goes to the European Commission and European Parliament ratifications and approval. If successful after this process, the nation is able to become a member of the EU (

“Screening� is the first step in the negotiations stage, when considering a country for membership (EU Commission). It’s an in depth analysis of the EU laws with which the candidate country must abide by (known as the ‘aquis’).

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