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     Member states      Candidates: Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey      Application submitted: Albania, Iceland, Montenegro and Serbia      Potential candidates that have not yet applied for EU membership: Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo
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The future enlargement of the European Union is open to any European country which is democratic, operates a free market and is willing and able to implement all previous EU law.[1] 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). The accession 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.[2]

At present, there are three recognised candidates for membership: Croatia (applied 2003), Macedonia (applied 2004) and Turkey (applied 1987); however Macedonia has not yet started negotiations to join.[3] The other states in the Western Balkans have signed the Stabilisation and Association Agreements (SAA) that have already entered into force for Albania, Croatia and Macedonia, and which generally precede the lodging of application for membership.[4] Montenegro (December 2008), Albania (April 2009) and Serbia (December 2009)[5] have also applied for membership, but the European Commission has not given its opinion yet.[6]

Iceland's current ruling party has recently endorsed holding a referendum on opening accession negotiations with the EU. The endorsement comes as a break with traditional Icelandic EU policy, but it is far from clear whether the population would support opening negotiations.[7] If negotiation were opened they would likely be completed relatively quickly as Iceland has already implemented large portions of the EU acquis through the EEA free trade agreement.

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."[8] However, the countries of the Eastern Partnership have all shown some interest in eventual EU membership.[9]

Contents

States and entities on the current agenda

The present enlargement agenda of the European Union regards Turkey, the Western Balkans and Iceland. Turkey has a long standing application with the EU but the negotiations are expected to take many more years. As for the Western Balkan states, the EU had pledged to include them after their civil wars: in fact, one state has entered, two are candidates, three have applied and the others have pre-accession agreements. Finally, Iceland has recently applied and, if sensitive negotiations over fishing can be overcome, is expected to complete negotiations rapidly due to its membership of the European Economic Area.

There are however other states in western and eastern Europe which either seek membership or could potentially apply if their present foreign policy changes, or the EU gives a signal that they might now be included on the enlargement agenda. However, these are not formally part of the current agenda, which is already delayed due to bilateral disputes in the Balkans and difficulty in fully implementing the acquis communautaire (the accepted body of EU law).

State
Status
Association
Agreement
Applied for
Membership
Candidate
status
Start of
negotiations
Population
Area (km²)
Albania Albania Applicant 02006-06-12 12 June 2006 (SAA) 02009-04-28 28 April 2009 &0000000003639453.0000003,639,453 &0000000000028748.00000028,748
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina Associate 02008-06-16 16 June 2008 (SAA) &0000000003981239.0000003,981,239 &0000000000051129.00000051,129
Croatia Croatia Negotiating 02001-10-29 29 October 2001 (SAA) 02003-02-21 21 February 2003 02004-06-18 18 June 2004 02005-10-03 3 October 2005 &0000000004489409.0000004,489,409 &0000000000056542.00000056,542
Iceland Iceland Applicant 01992-05-02 2 May 1992 (EEA) 02009-07-16 16 July 2009 &0000000000319756.000000319,756 &0000000000103001.000000103,001
Kosovo (under UNSCR 1244) Early talks &0000000002100000.0000002,100,000 &0000000000010908.00000010,908
Republic of Macedonia Macedonia Candidate 02001-04-09 9 April 2001 (SAA) 02004-03-22 22 March 2004 02005-12-17 17 December 2005 &0000000002114550.0000002,114,550 &0000000000025713.00000025,713
Montenegro Montenegro Applicant 02007-10-15 15 October 2007 (SAA) 02008-12-15 15 December 2008 &0000000000678177.000000678,177 &0000000000013812.00000013,812
Serbia Serbia Applicant 02008-04-29 29 April 2008 (SAA) 02009-12-22 22 December 2009 &0000000007498001.0000007,498,001 &0000000000088361.00000088,361
Turkey Turkey Negotiating 01963-09-12 12 September 1963 (AA) 01987-04-14 14 April 1987 01999-12-12 12 December 1999 02005-10-03 3 October 2005 &0000000074816000.00000074,816,000 &0000000000783562.000000783,562

Recognised candidates

There are at present three "candidate countries", who have applied to the EU and been accepted in principle.[3] These states have begun, or will begin shortly, the accession process by adopting EU law to bring the states in line with the rest of the Union. Croatia and Macedonia have applied recently and are both states of the former Yugoslavia (all other successor states are planning to join the EU) but Turkey is a long standing candidate, having applied in 1987 and gaining candidate status in 1999.[10] This is due to both the complex nature of bringing Turkey into line with EU standards and also the political issues surrounding the accession of the country.[11]

Croatia

Croatia shown in orange

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. Following the opening of accession negotiations on 3 October 2005, the process of screening 33 acquis chapters with Croatia was completed on 18 October 2006.[12] Negotiation had been restrained for 10 months because of a border dispute with Slovenia, but in September 2009 it was announced that Slovenia would remove restraints on Croatia's negotiations with the EU without prejudice to the international mediation on the border dispute.[13] This opens the way for Croatia to join the EU somewhere between the first half of 2010.[14] and 2012.

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 has had better statistical indicators than Bulgaria and Romania which joined in 2007, such as GDP per capita. Before starting negotiations with Croatia, the acquis was divided into 35 chapters, 4 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.

In late 2005, the EU officials projected that the accession of Croatia would likely happen between 2010 and 2012. In October 2006, Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn stated: "If Croatia will be able to reform its judiciary and economy with rigour and resolution, then it is likely to be ready around the end of this decade."[15]

Macedonia

Macedonia shown in orange

Macedonia applied to become an official candidate on 22 March 2004. On 9 November 2005 the European Commission recommended that it become a candidate state. EU leaders agreed to this recommendation on 17 December, formally naming the country as an official candidate, but no date for starting negotiations has been announced yet.

Peace is maintained with underlying ethnic tensions over Albanians in the west that achieved greater autonomy through the implementation of the Ohrid Accords. Unlike Serbia, it has maintained sovereignty over all its territory. Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski has suggested that the country could join in 2012 or 2013.[16] However, the EU has not come out with any official recognition of this suggested time period.

On 17 December 2005 the European Council welcomed and congratulated the country's achievements in implementing multiple reforms and agreements (Copenhagen criteria, Stabilisation and Association process, Ohrid Agreement).[17]

The country has a dispute with its southern neighbour and current EU member, Greece, over its name. Greece rejects the name "Macedonia" because it says it implies territorial ambitions towards Greece's own northern province of Macedonia (see: Macedonia naming dispute). Because of this, the EU refers to the country only by the provisional appellation "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (fYRoM). The resolution of the name issue has become a precondition for accession,[18] since Greece has repeatedly confirmed it would use its right to block accession without a prior settlement.[19] Concerns over the country's difficulties in reaching European standards on the rule of law and the economy[20] and over violence and irregularities in the 2008 parliamentary elections[21] have also cast doubts on the country's candidacy.

Turkey

Turkey shown in orange

The status of Turkey with regard to the EU has become a matter of major significance and considerable controversy in recent years. Turkey is one of the founding members of the Council of Europe since 1949 and has been an "associate member" of the European Union and its predecessors since 1964, as a result of the EEC–Turkey Association Agreement (Ankara Agreement) that was signed on September 12, 1963.[22] The country formally applied for full membership on 14 April 1987, but 12 years passed before it was recognised as a candidate country at the Helsinki Summit in 1999. After a summit in Brussels on 17 December 2004 (following the major 2004 enlargement), the European Council announced that membership negotiations with Turkey were officially opened on 3 October 2005. The screening process which began on 20 October 2005 was completed on 18 October 2006.

Turkey, classified as a developed country by the CIA,[23] with the seventh largest economy in the Council of Europe and the fifteenth largest economy in the world,[24] is part of the common EU customs territory since the entering into force of the EU–Turkey Customs Union in 1996. Turkey was a founding member of the OECD in 1961, a founding member of the OSCE in 1973 and has been an associate member of the Western European Union since 1992. Turkey is also a founding member of the G-20 major economies (1999) which has close ties with the European Union. The country is a part of the "Western Europe" branch of the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) at the United Nations.

Proponents of Turkey's membership argue that it is a key regional power[25][26] with a large economy and the second largest military force of NATO[27][28] that will enhance the EU's position as a global geostrategic player; given Turkey's geographic location and economic, political, cultural and historic ties in regions with large natural resources that are at the immediate vicinity of the EU's geopolitical sphere of influence; such as the East Mediterranean and Black Sea coasts, the Middle East, the Caspian Sea basin and Central Asia.[29][30]

According to Carl Bildt, Swedish foreign minister, "[The accession of Turkey] would give the EU a decisive role for stability in the eastern part of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, which is clearly in the strategic interest of Europe."[31] One of Turkey's key supporters for its bid to join the EU is the United Kingdom. In May 2008, Queen Elizabeth II said during a visit to Turkey, that "Turkey is uniquely positioned as a bridge between the East and West at a crucial time for the European Union and the world in general."[32]

Proponents also argue that Turkey abides by most conditions for accession. Some maintain 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 try to satisfy the entry conditions.

However others, such as French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, maintain an opposition to Turkey's membership. Opponents argue that Turkey does not respect the key principles that are expected in a liberal democracy, such as the freedom of expression, with potentially repressive laws like Article 301 (A law which states it is illegal to "insult turkishness" which was reformed on 30 April 2008);[33] and because of the significant role of the army on the Turkish administrative foreground through the National Security Council; whose military-dominated structure was reformed on 23 July 2003, in line with the requests from the EU.[34] Turkey's large population would also alter the balance of power in the representative European institutions. Upon joining the EU, Turkey's 70 million inhabitants would bestow it the second largest number of MEPs in the European Parliament.[28] Demographic projections indicate that Turkey would surpass Germany in the number of seats by 2020.[28]

Turkey's membership would also affect future enlargement plans, especially the number of nations seeking EU membership,[28] grounds by which Valéry Giscard d'Estaing has opposed Turkey's admission. Giscard d'Estaing has suggested that it would lead to demands for accession by Morocco. Morocco's application is already rejected on geographic grounds, and Turkey, unlike Morocco, has territory in Europe. French President Nicolas Sarkozy (then a candidate) stated in January 2007 that "enlarging Europe with no limit risks destroying European political union, and that I do not accept...I want to say that Europe must give itself borders, that not all countries have a vocation to become members of Europe, beginning with Turkey which has no place inside the European Union."[35] Further, some oppose the accession of a largely Muslim country. In 2004, future President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy stated "An enlargement [of the EU] with Turkey is not in any way comparable with previous enlargement waves. Turkey is not Europe and will never be Europe." He continued "But it's a matter of fact that the universal values which are in force in Europe, and which are also the fundamental values of Christianity, will lose vigour with the entry of a large Islamic country such as Turkey."

Only a small fraction of Turkish territory lies in the common geographical definition of Europe. The country's largest city and its economic and cultural capital[citation needed], Istanbul, lies partially in Europe. EU member Cyprus is actually located to the south of Anatolia and is a part of Anatolia's continental shelf, thus geographically a part of Asia.

Another concern is the Cyprus dispute. The northern third of the island of Cyprus is considered by the EU and most states in the world to be part of the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state, but is de facto controlled by the government of Northern Cyprus, which is recognised by Turkey. Turkey, for its part, does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus pending a resolution to the dispute under the auspices of the United Nations, and has 40,000 troops stationed on territory controlled by the Northern Cypriot government. The UN-backed Annan Plan for the re-unification of Cyprus was actively supported by the EU and Turkey. Separate referenda held in April 2004 produced different results on either side of the island: while accepted by the Turkish Cypriots in the north, the plan was rejected by the Greek Cypriots in the south.

Applied but still not recognised as official candidates

Albania

Albania shown in orange

Albania was the first of the officially recognised "potential candidate countries" to start the negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement in 2003. This was successfully agreed and signed on 12 June 2006, completing the first major step toward Albania's full membership in the EU. However, Albania's admission to the EU depends on the country's economic and political stability.

Following the steps of the recently admitted Eastern European countries in 2004, Albania has been extensively engaged with EU institutions and NATO. It has also maintained its position as a stability factor and a strong ally of Western Europe in the troubled and divided region of the Balkans.[36] Albania formally applied for EU candidacy on the 28 April 2009, before the Albanian legislative elections, yet it may take several years to get in. On November 16, 2009 the Council of the European Union asked the European Commission to prepare an assessment on the readiness of Albania to start accession negotiations, a step in the process that has usually taken about a year.[37] On December 16, 2009 the European Commission submitted the Questionnaire on accession preparation to the Albanian government. By February 18, 2010 Albania had answered on 7 out of 35 chapters (on free movement of workers, public procurement, fisheries, transport policies, economic and monetary policies, policies of trans-European transportation and customs) of the Questionnaire which contains 2,284 questions.[38]

Iceland

Iceland shown in orange

Iceland applied to join the EU in July 2009 following an economic downturn. Prior to that, its relations with the EU were defined by its membership of the European Economic Area (EEA), which gave it access to the EU's single market, and the Schengen treaty. As a result of the membership of the EEA, Iceland already applies a many major economic EU laws and negotiations are expected to proceed rapidly (although 2005 research by the EFTA Secretariat found the exact percentage of laws adopted to be only 6.5%).[39][40]

Like in Norway, fear of losing control over the fishery resources in its territorial waters was the single largest issue that kept Iceland reluctant to join the EU. However, the strong effect of the economic crisis of 2008 on Iceland accelerated the debate considerably and the Independence Party, the largest opposing party, agreed to opening accession negotiations after a referendum (in addition to a final referendum).[7] A proposal to begin negotiations with the EU was put before the Icelandic parliament in July 2009[41] and approved (without a pre-negotiation referendum) by a slim majority on 16 July 2009. Iceland submitted its application to the Swedish presidency in a letter dated on 16 July. The application has been acknowledged by the Council of the European Union on 27 July 2009.[42] On September 8, the EU commission sent a list of 2,500 questions to Iceland about its fulfilment of convergence criteria and adoption of EU law. Iceland returned answers to them on October 22, 2009. On November 2, Iceland selected a chief negotiator for the coming membership negotiations with the EU: Stefan Haukur Johannesson, Iceland's Ambassador in Belgium.

Montenegro

Montenegro shown in orange

In the independence referendum of 21 May 2006, the Montenegrin people voted for Montenegro to leave the state union of Serbia and Montenegro and become an independent state. It is not yet clear how this will affect Europe's second newest independent state but it is believed that negotiations with the EU will allow quick implementation of an SAA agreement and speedier entry to the club of European nations than had it stayed tied to Serbia's EU bid. However, Montenegro is experiencing ecological, judicial and crime-related problems that may hinder its bid.

Montenegro unilaterally adopted the euro as its currency at its launch in 2002, having previously used the German mark. SAA negotiations started in September 2006 and[43] was officially signed on 15 October 2007. Montenegro officially submitted its membership application on 15 December 2008.[44]

The Commission presented Montenegro with a questionnaire to asses its application on 22 July 2009. On 9 December 2009, Montenegro delivered its answers to the EC questionnaire. The Commission's opinion will be submitted to the Council in the course of 2010.

Serbia

Serbia shown in orange

The government of Serbia has the goal for the EU accession in 2014 per Papandreou plan - Agenda 2014.[45][46] Negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement started in November 2005.[47]

On 29 April 2008 Serbian officials signed an SAA with the EU,[48] and the Serbian President sought official candidate status by the end of 2008.[49]. However, the Dutch government refuses to ratify the agreement before Ratko Mladić has been captured, so it cannot enter into force at this time. As of January 2009 the Serbian government has started to implement its obligations under the agreement unilaterally.[50] The effects remain to be evaluated by the European Commission. Despite its setbacks in the political field, on 7 December 2009 the EU unfroze the trade agreement with Serbia[51], Serbia entered the Schengen visa free regime on 19 December 2009[52], and officially applied for EU membership on 22 December 2009[53].

Potential candidates - Countries and entities that have not yet applied for EU membership

States recognised as a "potential candidate" by the EU, but have not yet submitted an application.

The EU's relations with the Western Balkans states (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia) were moved from the "External Relations" to the "Enlargement" policy segment in 2005. These states currently are not recognised as candidate countries, but only as "potential candidate countries".[54] This is a consequence of the advancement of the Stabilisation and Association process.

The successor states of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia), as well as Kosovo, have all adopted EU integration as an aim of foreign policy. Slovenia joined the EU on 1 May 2004. Croatia and Macedonia are recognised as the EU candidate countries and the former is currently in the process of negotiation.

Albania in the Western Balkans was for a long period under one of the harshest authoritarian socialist governments in the world, which imposed on the people of Albania an international isolation similar to that of North Korea. The post-authoritarian Albanian governments have adopted EU integration as the strategic orientation of the country.

The EU signed an agreement with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Montenegro on 13 April 2007, and Serbia on 15 May 2007, which included visa facilitations for the citizens of these countries. The signing EU Commissioner Franco Frattini was quoted saying that this is the first step towards full abolition of the visa requirements and the free movement of the Western Balkans citizens in EU. Citizens of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia will enjoy visa-free travel to the EU from December 19, 2009 on whereas citizens of Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina have to wait at least until the first half of 2010.

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 "Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro are considered likely to join the EU between 2010 and 2015" depending on their fulfillment of the adhesion criteria.[citation needed] This summit was attended by two EU members, seven countries now in the EU, and the eight EU hopefuls (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, and Ukraine). However, this summit was not linked to any EU institution, and the target dates and agreements presented there mainly aimed at encouraging the candidate and potential candidate countries on their way to eventual full membership into the EU.

On 9 November 2005, the European Commission suggested in a new strategy paper that the current enlargement agenda (Croatia, Turkey and the Western Balkans) could potentially block the possibility of a future accession of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.[55] Olli Rehn has said on occasion that the EU should "avoid overstretching our capacity, and instead consolidate our enlargement agenda," adding, "this is already a challenging agenda for our accession process."[56]

Serbia, Montenegro and Albania are still regarded by the EU as potential candidates but have submitted candidacy for EU membership. That leaves only Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo (UN 1244) as potential candidates that have not yet applied for EU membrship. Bosnia and Herzegovina has SAA while Kosovo (UN 1244) does not.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina shown in orange

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.

Negotiations on Stabilisation and Association Agreement started during the year 2005 and concluded December 2007. This is the first step before making an application for candidate status and membership negotiations. The negotiations were expected to be finalised in late 2007,[57] but due to the failure of the government to decide in time on police reform in line with EU principles they could be finalised in late 2008 at the earliest. Due to this setback and the hard-line positions of most Bosnian politicians, High Representative Miroslav Lajčák has stated that he will shift more of his focus for the time being from EU accession to reforms which would improve the standard of living in the country.

The Union may show some leniency over economic requirements 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, but it is entirely dependent on the country's progress.

The SAA was initialed on Tuesday, 4 December 2007 by Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn and caretaker Prime Minister Nikola Špirić. The initialing came in the wake of successful negotiations by Miroslav Lajčák in regards to passing his new quorum rules laws and also the commitment of Bosnian and Herzegovinian politicians to implementing police reform. The SAA was signed on 16 June 2008.

According to the Foreign Minister Sven Alkalaj, Bosnia and Herzegovina planned to submit an application for membership between April and June 2009.[58] However, an application was ultimately not submitted in this time frame. In February 2010, Alkala stated that Bosnia now planned to submit their membership application by the end of the year.[59]

Kosovo (UN 1244)

Kosovo shown in orange

The main obstacle towards EU accession of Kosovo is the fact that five EU countries have not recognised Kosovo as a sovereign state.[60][61][62] The European Commission noted in its annual report for the progress of the countries candidates and potential candidates for EU accession, that Kosovo faces major challenges, including ensuring the rule of law, the fight against corruption and organised crime, the strengthening of administrative capacity, and the protection of the Serb and other minorities.[63][64]

As confirmed by the Thessaloniki Summit in June 2003, Kosovo is firmly anchored in the framework of the Stabilisation and Association Process, the EU policy which applies to the Western Balkans.

On 20 April 2005 the European Commission adopted the Communication on Kosovo to the Council "A European Future for Kosovo" which reinforces the Commission’s commitment to Kosovo. Furthermore, on 20 January 2006, the Council adopted a European Partnership for Serbia and Montenegro including Kosovo as defined by UNSCR1244. The European Partnership is a means to materialise the European perspective of the Western Balkan countries within the framework of the stabilisation and association process.

The Provisional Institutions of Self Government (PISG) adopted an Action Plan for the Implementation of the European Partnership in August 2006 and this document forms the current working basis between the EU and the PISG. The PISG regularly report on the implementation of this action plan. Twelve meetings of the so-called "Stabilisation Tracking Mechanism" (STM), specially devised to promote policy dialogue between the EU and the Kosovan authorities on EU approximation matters have taken place so far. In addition, a new structure of sectoral meetings under the umbrella of the STM was established in the areas of good governance, economy, internal market, innovation and infrastructure in March 2007.[65]

Kosovo's politicians announced that they expect Kosovo to join EU in 2015 [66]

Progress

It was previously the norm for enlargements to see multiple entrants join the Union at once. The only previous enlargement of a single state was the 1981 admission of Greece.

However, the EU members have warned that, following the significant impact of the fifth enlargement in 2004, a more individual approach will be adopted in the future, although the entry of pairs or small groups of countries will most probably coincide. Croatia may be expected to join first, possibly around 2012, and the rest of the Western Balkan countries around 2014.

The timing of these enlargements is subject to many variables and the dates given in the table below are the estimated ones.

Countries Recognised candidates Applications submitted Official Potential candidates
(not having submitted an application yet)
Reference states

Event
Turkey[67] Croatia[68] Macedonia[69] Albania Iceland Montenegro Serbia Bosnia
and
Herzegovina
Kosovo
(under UNSCR 1244)
Finland Czech
Republic
Slovakia Bulgaria
EU Association Agreement 1 negotiations start 1959AA
1970CU
2000 2000 2003 1990 2005 2005 2005 (?) 1990 1990 1990 1990
EU Association Agreement signature 1963AA
1995CU
2001 2001 2006 1992 2007 2008 2008 (?) 1992 1993 1993 1993
EU Association Agreement entry into force 1964AA
1996CU
2005 2004 2009 1994 (2010) (2012) (2010) (?) 1994 1995 1995 1995
Membership application submitted 1987 2003 2004 2009 2009 2008 2009 (2010) (?) 1992 1996 1995 1995
Candidate status received 1999 2004 2005 (2010) (2010) (2010) (2010) (2010) (?) 1992 1998 1999 1999
Membership negotiations start 2005 2005 (2010) (2011) (2010) (2011) (2011) (2011) (?) 1993 1998 2000 2000
Membership negotiations end (2014) (2010) (2014) (2015) (2011) (2015) (2015) (2015) (?) 1994 2002 2002 2004
EU joining date (2016) (2012) (2016) (2017) (2013) (2017) (2017) (2017) (?) 1995 2004 2004 2007
Acquis chapter
1. Free Movement of Goods f o
2. Freedom of Movement for Workers fs x
3. Right of Establishment & Freedom to provide Services f x
4. Free Movement of Capital o o
5. Public Procurement fs o
6. Company Law o x
7. Intellectual Property Law o x
8. Competition Policy fs fs
9. Financial Services f x
10. Information Society & Media o x
11. Agriculture & Rural Development f o
12. Food safety, Veterinary & Phytosanitary Policy fs o
13. Fisheries f o 3
14. Transport Policy f o
15. Energy fs x
16. Taxation o o
17. Economic & Monetary Policy o x
18. Statistics o x
19. Social Policy & Employment fs 2 x
20. Enterprise & Industrial Policy o x
21. Trans-European Networks o x
22. Regional Policy & Coordination of Structural Instruments fs o
23. Judiciary & Fundamental Rights fs fs
24. Justice, Freedom & Security fs o
25. Science & Research x x
26. Education & Culture fs x
27. Environment o o
28. Consumer & Health Protection o x
29. Customs Union f x
30. External Relations f x
31. Foreign, Security & Defence Policy fs f
32. Financial Control o o
33. Financial & Budgetary Provisions fs o
34. Institutions
35. Other Issues

1 EU Association Agreement type: Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) for the Western Balkans states participating in the Stabilisation and Association process of the EU (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo trough the STM); Association Agreement and Customs Union for Turkey; European Economic Area (EEA) for Iceland and Finland (reference state of the Fourth Enlargement); Europe Agreement for the reference states of the Fifth Enlargement.
2 Including anti-discrimination and equal opportunities for men and women.
3 Most likely the EU will reform its CFP in the direction of present Iceland approach as envisioned in the Green paper for the 2013 CFP review.[70] This is unique situation in contrast to all other chapters where the candidate countries align their laws with the EU acquis.

(bracketed date): approximate and most probable nearest possible date as at economic and political situation of December 2009. Dates subject to increases/decreases as things change and time passes. Situation of policy area at the start of membership negotiations (Turkey, Croatia) or candidate status recomendation for countries not yet in negotiations (Macedonia, Iceland); according to the 2005 Reports and 2010 Opinion.

s – screening of the chapter
fs – finished screening
o – open chapter
x – closed chapter
f – frozen chapter

     generaly already applies the acquis      no major difficulties expected      further efforts needed
     non-acquis chapter - nothing to adopt

     considerable efforts needed      very hard to adopt      situation totally incompatible with EU acquis

States not on the current agenda

EFTA states

The European Union (blue)
and EFTA countries (green)

Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are members of a free trade area (EFTA) developed in parallel to the EU. Most prior members of EFTA left to join the EU and the remaining countries, except Switzerland, formed the European Economic Area with the EU. Of current member states only Iceland (see section above) considered joining EU.

Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein is, like Norway and Iceland, a member of the European Economic Area and hence is already heavily integrated with the EU. Although it currently has no intention of joining, it might consider joining the EU if Switzerland joins, as it is doing with the Schengen Agreement. If it attained membership it would become the smallest member state (the current smallest is Malta).

One concern is that unlike the constitutional monarchies within the EU (such as the United Kingdom, Belgium, or Spain), the Prince of Liechtenstein has considerable executive powers, and is not merely a figurehead. These powers would have to be rescinded in order for Liechtenstein to be fully democratic,[citation needed] which is a precondition for admission to the EU.[71]

Norway

Norway is not an EU member state, but is, in effect, required to adopt EU legislation in many policy areas due to its participation in the European Economic Area (EEA), through the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Additionally, Norway has chosen to opt into many of the Union's programmes, institutions and activities.[72] Whether or not the country should apply for conventional membership has been a dominant and divisive issue. Division within the current Red-Green Coalition has blocked the issue since the 2005 parliamentary elections.[citation needed] 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.

A large issue for Norway is its fishing resources, which are a significant part of the national economy and which would come under the Common Fisheries Policy if Norway were to accede to the EU. Norway has high GNP per capita, and would have to pay a high membership fee. The country has a limited amount of agriculture, and few underdeveloped areas, which means that Norway would receive little economic support from the EU.

Norway is a member of the European Economic Area (the EU common market), 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. Norway was a founding member of NATO in 1949.

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 in a 4 March 2001 referendum. 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. Switzerland has relatively little amount of land area with agriculture, to which a large part of the EU budget goes.

EU membership however continues to be the objective of the government and is a "long-term aim" of the Federal Council. Furthermore, the Swiss population agreed to their country's participation in the Schengen Agreement. As a result of that, Switzerland joined the area in December 2008.[73]

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, former 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." [74]

However the Swiss government declared in September 2009 that bilateral treaties are not solutions and the membership debate has to be checked again.[75]

Microstates

Within western Europe, there are five microstates: Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, the Vatican City, and Liechtenstein. The last of these is a member of EFTA (see relevant section for its details). Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican City have all signed agreements allowing them not only to use the euro, but to mint their own coins. They all also are de facto part of the Schengen agreement or have a largely open border with the EU and have close relations with their neighbouring state, for example Monaco is a full part of the EU's customs territory via France, and applies most EU measures relating to VAT and excise duties.[76]

The EU does not plan to include the microstates, since the EU is not designed with microstates in mind.[citation needed] Close cooperation and inclusion in systems like the Eurozone are offered to them however. This does not come without conditions. The EU requires cooperation in e.g. tax control in return. Monaco has already implemented the EU Directive on the taxation of savings interest.

In Andorra, the government has said that "for the time being" there is no need to join the EU;[77] however, the opposition Social Democratic Party is in favour.[78] While in San Marino the left-wing opposition Popular Alliance has been reported to be in favour of joining the EU, which the ruling San Marinese Christian Democratic Party opposes.[79]

Monaco joined the Council of Europe in 2004,[80] a move that required it to renegotiate its relations with France, which previously had the right to nominate various ministers.[81] This was seen as part of a general move toward Europe.[82] One concern is that, unlike the constitutional monarchies within the EU, the Prince of Monaco has considerable executive powers and is not merely a figurehead. These powers would have to be rescinded in order for Monaco to be fully democratic,[citation needed] which is a precondition for admission to the EU.[71] Likewise, the Vatican City (the smallest state in the world) as a theocracy does not have the democratic credentials to join the EU and is unlikely to attain them given its unique status. Additionally its economy is also of unique non-commercial nature and thus EU membership is not discussed, even though it is in the heart of an EU member state.

Eastern Partnership states

     EU Member states      Current Enlargement agenda      Eastern Partnership ENP participants      Other Eastern Partnership states

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the former Soviet republics of Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus have been looked upon as potential candidates for EU enlargement. All are or have been closely linked to Russia and would need to concentrate more on other European partners to attain candidate status. It is expected that these states remain outside the Union for at least a significant amount of time, because they are not currently on any enlargement agenda (in contrast to the Western Balkan states, Turkey, and Iceland).

However, a summit in Mamaia, Eastern Romania, in May 2004 showed enlargement to Eastern Europe to be a definite possibility, though only Ukraine and Moldova were present, as Belarus was not concerned with membership.

The South Caucasus states of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia have been the site of much instability since the 1990s. Currently, there seems to be a feeling of hope in the region's future. Their EU membership would be conditional on the political assessment by the European Council about whether or not they are considered European. Nevertheless, all three states are admitted as full members into the Council of Europe (like Cyprus) after a similar assessment process. Before the first official visit of external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner to the three Caucasus states, it was stated that if she were asked about enlargement, she would not rule it out.[83] It is unclear as to when they may move towards membership, even though they are part of the European Neighbourhood Policy and are often referred to as part of "a wider Europe". Since their only land contact with European states is through Russia and Turkey, it is possible that they would only join after Turkey did so first. However, on 12 January 2002, the European Parliament noted that Armenia and Georgia may enter the EU in the future regardless.[84]

The ENP Action Plans adopted by the EU and each individual partner state (Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan) states that "the EU takes note of expressed European aspirations by the ENP partner".

In May 2008, Poland and Sweden put forward a joint proposal for an Eastern Partnership with Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, with Russia and Belarus participating in some aspects. Eventually, Belarus joined the initiative as full member, while Russia does not participate at all. The Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski said "We all know the EU has enlargement fatigue. We have to use this time to prepare as much as possible so that when the fatigue passes, membership becomes something natural"[85] In May 2009, the Eastern Partnership was inaugurated. Its members include the European Union as well as the post-Soviet states Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

With the inaguration of the second Barosso Commission in February 2010, the European Neighbourhood Policy was transferred from the portfolio of the External Relations Commissioner (replaced by the High Representative) to the Enlargement Commissioner. However, as of March 2010, it is still undecided whether DG Enlargement would also be extended to cover these countries, or whether they will remain with the External Action Service, which is the successor to the DG External Relations.

Armenia

Compared to Ancient Armenia, the modern day republic is geographically located entirely within Western Asia. However, like Cyprus, it has traditionally been regarded as culturally associated with Europe because of its long historical connections with European society, including a large diaspora.

Several Armenian officials have expressed the desire for their country to eventually become an EU member state,[86] some predicting that it will make an official bid for membership in a few years.[87] Public opinion in Armenia suggests the move for membership would be welcomed, with 64% out of a sample of 2,000 being in favour and only 11.8% being against.[88]

Armenia is still in conflict over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) with neighbouring Azerbaijan. Since 1994, a ceasefire has been in place, but tensions remain very high between the two countries. Although the country's economy had one of the world's fastest growth rates in the past few years, this comes following a low base and many years of near-continuous recession.[89] Still, Armenia, being ranked 28th, is ahead of a number of EU member nations such as Austria, France, Portugal and Italy in the 2008 Index of Economic Freedom.[90]

The Metsamor nuclear power plant, which is situated some 40 km west of Yerevan, is built on top of an active seismic zone and is a matter of negotiation between Armenia and the EU. Towards the end of 2007, Armenia approved a plan to shut down the Metsamor plant in compliance with the New European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan.[91] This is likely to take place by 2016 when the operating term of the Metsamor facility expires.[92]

Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan, a majority-Shia Muslim but secular country with a Turkic population, would need to overcome several obstacles in order to be considered a potential EU candidate. The oil-rich country has made improvements to its infrastructure, but much of the money from its very high GDP growth, one of the world's fastest, still does not seem to find its way into the lower echelons of society,[citation needed] despite being larger and more technologically modernised than its neighbours Georgia and Armenia. Its economy is also suffering from the "Dutch disease," as oil is becoming its primary export, rendering the manufacturing sector less competitive.[93] Corruption is another serious issue and recent presidential elections in Azerbaijan were disputed by the opposition and have been criticised for not being free, fair or democratic by international observers. The country also needs to resolve the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh with neighbouring Armenia, as the EU wishes to ease tensions in the area.

Belarus

The EU's relations with Belarus are strained as the EU has condemned the government of Belarus several times for authoritarian and anti-democratic practices, and even imposed sanctions on the country.[94] Under its current president, Belarus has instead sought a close confederation with Russia, short of political reunion. According to the initial ENP plan in 2004 Belarus is considered a potential participant, but not yet ready. Because of warming moves by both sides,[95] Belarus became a member of the Eastern Partnership in 2009 despite its non-participation in the ENP.

Georgia

Georgia's current President Mikheil Saakashvili, has expressed a desire for Georgia to join the EU. This view has been explicitly expressed on several occasions as links to the United States, EU and NATO have been strengthened in an attempt to move away from the Russian sphere of influence. Territorial integrity issues in Ajaria were dealt with after the Rose Revolution, when leader Aslan Abashidze was forced to resign in May 2004. However, unresolved territorial integrity issues have again risen to the forefront in South Ossetia and Abkhazia as a result of the 2008 South Ossetia War.

As of November 2009, Georgia has not applied for EU membership.

Moldova

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.[citation needed] The unresolved territorial integrity issue of the breakaway republic of Transnistria, is a major barrier to any progress. On 6 October 2005 the EU opened its permanent mission in Chişinău, the capital city of Moldova.

Moldova currently aspires to join the European Union and is implementing its first three-year Action Plan within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) of the EU.

The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) represents the legal framework for the Republic of Moldova - European Union relationship. The Agreement was signed on 28 November 1994 and entered into force on 1 July 1998 for the next 10 years. This arrangement provides for a basis of cooperation with the EU in the political, commercial, economic, legal, cultural and scientific areas. The EU is developing an increasingly close relationship with Moldova, going beyond co-operation, to gradual economic integration and a deepening of political co-operation.

In August 2009, four Moldovan parties agreed to create a governing coalition, called Alliance For European Integration. The Liberal Democratic Party, Liberal Party, Democratic Party, and Our Moldova have committed themselves to achieving such goals as European integration and promoting a balanced, consistent and responsible foreign policy.

Ukraine

Many political factions of Ukraine advocate joining the EU and developing ties with Europe. Since the Orange Revolution of late 2004, Ukraine's membership prospects have improved: Opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko hinted that he would press the EU for deeper ties, and described a four-point plan: the acknowledgment of Ukraine as a market economy, entry in the World Trade Organisation, associate membership with the EU, and lastly full membership.[96] In a similar way, the Ukrainian government asked Brussels to give Ukraine a clearer prospect for membership, claiming that the current plan reflected only the pre-orange revolution situation.[97] However, following ambiguous signals from the EU, 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". In September 2009 two Ukrainian diplomats, backed by a number of others, went on record arguing that Ukraine should submit a formal application for membership in 2010 in order to get a clearer message from Brussels. If lodged in 2010, it would likely be considered a year later under the Polish EU presidency, a country which has supported Ukrainian membership. However, a 2009 poll indicates only 34% support from the Ukrainian people for membership.[98]

Inside the EU opinion is split. Several EU leaders have already stated strong support for closer economic ties with Ukraine but have stopped short of direct support for such a bid. In 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. Portugal also publicly stated it supports Ukraine's EU accession.[99] On 13 January 2005 the European Parliament almost unanimously (467 votes to 19 in favour) passed a motion stating the wish of the Parliament to establish closer ties with Ukraine with the possibility of EU membership. A 2005 poll of the six largest EU nations 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. The European Commission has stated that future EU membership will not be ruled out and in 2005 Commission President José Manuel Barroso said that the future of Ukraine is in the EU. However, the Commission suggested that the current enlargement agenda (the Western Balkans and Turkey) could block the possibility of a future accession of the Eastern Partnership states. Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said that the EU should avoid overstretch, adding that the current enlargement agenda is already very heavy.[100] In 2002, then-Enlargement 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.

Eastern Europe outside the ENP and EaP

Russia has been brought up for consideration for EU enlargement along the rest of the former Soviet republics, including Kazakhstan (which has a portion of its western territory in Eastern Europe).

During the preparation stages of the ENP, Russia insisted on the creation of the four EU-Russia Common Spaces instead of ENP participation, as it saw the ENP as "unequal" arrangement with a dominant role of the EU.[citation needed] In the framework of the EU-Russia Common Spaces in May 2005, a roadmap was adopted with similar content to the ENP Action Plans. Both the ENP and the EU-Russia Common Spaces are implemented by the EU through the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument.

Kazakhstan

The Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Russia, Adilbek Dzhaksybekov said "We would like to join in the future the European Union, but to join not as Estonia and Latvia, but as an equal partner".[6] This statement is mostly visionary and about long term perspective, because currently Kazakhstan is not even participating in the European Neighbourhood Policy albeit the Kazakh Foreign Ministry has expressed interest in the ENP [7] and some MEPs also discussed Kazakhstan's inclusion in the ENP [8]. Kazakhstan has a portion of its territory in Europe, but membership would require big advances in human rights and democracy.

Russia

Among the most vocal supporters of Russian membership of the EU has been Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi; in October 2008 he said "I consider Russia to be a Western country and my plan is for the Russian Federation to be able to become a member of the European Union in the coming years" and stated that he had this vision for years.[101] Russian permanent representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov commented on this by saying that Russia has no plans of joining the EU.[102] Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said that Russia joining the EU would not be in the interests of either Russia or the EU, although he advocated close integration in various dimensions including establishment of four common spaces between Russia and the EU, including united economic, educational and scientific spaces as it was declared in the agreement in 2003.[103][104][105][106]

At present, the prospect of Russia joining the EU any time in the near future is slim. Analysts have commented that Russia is "decades away" from qualifying for EU membership.[107] Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has also said that though Russia must "find its place both in NATO, and, in the longer term, in the European Union, and if conditions are created for this to happen" that such a thing is not economically feasible in the near future.[108]

Special territories of member states

Map of European Union in the world      European Union      Outermost regions      Overseas countries and territories

There are multiple Special member state territories, some of them are not fully covered by the EU treaties and apply EU law only partially, if at all. See also the territories not covered by the Schengen treaty. It is possible for a dependency to change its status regarding the EU and/or some particular treaty or law provision. The territory may change its status from participation to leaving or from being outside to joining.

British dependencies

British Overseas Territories

The only country with the status of British Overseas Territory that is part of the EU is Gibraltar, which joined the EU together with the United Kingdom in 1973. The other overseas territories are defined as Overseas Countries and Territories. All of them - except Bermuda - are associated with the EU (meaning they apply some parts of EU law) and their nationals are in principle EU citizens.[109]

Crown Dependencies

Special terms were negotiated for the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man on the UK’s accession to the European Economic Community. These are contained in Protocol 3 to the Treaty of Accession 1973. The effect of the protocol is that the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are within the Common Customs Area and the Common External Tariff (i.e. they enjoy access to European Union countries of physical exports without tariff barriers). Other Community rules do not apply to the Islands.

Sovereign Base Areas

The UK Sovereign Base Areas, Akrotiri and Dhekelia on Cyprus did not join the European Union when the United Kingdom joined. Cyprus' Accession Treaty specifically stated that this would not change with the accession of Cyprus to the European Union. However, currently, some provisions of the EU Law are applicable there - mainly border management, food safety and free movement of people and goods.

Danish self-governing communities

Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands, a self-governing nation within the Kingdom of Denmark, are not part of the EU, as explicitly asserted by both Rome treaties.[110] The relations with the EU are governed by a Fisheries Agreement (1977) and a Free Trade Agreement (1991, revised 1998). The main reason for remaining outside the EU is disagreements about the Common Fisheries Policy.[111]

Nevertheless, there are politicians, mainly in the right-wing Union Party (Sambandsflokkurin), led by their chairman Kaj Leo Johannesen, who would like to see the Faroes as a member of the EU. However, the chairman of the left-wing Republic (Tjóðveldi), Høgni Hoydal, has expressed concerns that if the Faroes were to join the EU as is, they might vanish inside the EU, comparting this with today's situation of The Shetlands and Åland, and wants the local government to solve the political situation between the Faroes and Denmark first.[112]

On 26 September 2008, Kaj Leo Johannesen became Prime Minister of the Faroe Islands, and according to him his new government is actively going to seek a progressive Europe-policy, even stating that membership of the EU is a strong possibility.[citation needed]

Greenland

Greenland, a self-governing community that is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, is the only country to have left the EEC or EU. After the establishment of Greenland's home rule in 1979 (effective from 1980), a second referendum on membership was held, where the people decided to leave the EEC. On 1 February 1985, Greenland left the EEC and EURATOM. Its status was changed to that of an Overseas Country.[109] Danish nationals residing in Greenland (i.e. all native population) are nonetheless fully European citizens; they are not, however, entitled to vote in European elections.

There has been some speculation as to whether Greenland may consider rejoining the European Union. On 4 January 2007 the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten quoted the former Danish minister for Greenland, Tom Høyem, as saying "I would not be surprised if Greenland again becomes a member of the EU... The EU needs the Arctic window and Greenland cannot alone manage the gigantic Arctic possibilities".[113]

Dutch countries in the Caribbean

Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles are constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands but in relation to the European Union they are Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT) entities, listed under Annex II of the EC treaty.[109] OCTs are considered to be "associated" with the EU and apply some portions of EU law. The islands are opting to become an outermost region of the EU, the same status the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands and the French overseas departments have.

On 15 December 2008, the Caribbean islands of Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius would have left the Netherlands Antilles and become part of the Netherlands proper as special municipalities (which may have led them to become part of the European Union). The proposal would have dismantled the Netherlands Antilles with two of its regions, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, becoming separate countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. However, due to several issues, this process has been delayed. The government of the Netherlands is currently investigating the consequences of a change of status within the European Union for these islands.

European commissioner Danuta Hübner has said before the European Parliament that she doesn't expect many problems to occur with such a status change, as the population of Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius only consists of some 30,000 people. As the islands are currently listed in an Annex of the Treaty of Rome, the treaty needs to be changed before the new status can take effect.[114] Under the proposed Treaty of Lisbon, Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten could change their status to outermost region by means of a unanimous decision of the European Council:

Article 311 shall be repealed. A new Article 311a shall be inserted, with the wording of Article 299(2), first subparagraph, and Article 299(3) to (6); the text shall be amended as follows:
[...]
(e) the following new paragraph shall be added at the end of the Article:

"6. The European Council may, on the initiative of the Member State concerned, adopt a decision amending the status, with regard to the Union, of a Danish, French or Netherlands country or territory referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2. The European Council shall act unanimously after consulting the Commission."

Treaty of Lisbon Article 2, point 293

French overseas departments and collectivities

The territories of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Réunion are overseas departments of France and at the same time mono-departmental overseas regions. According to the EC treaty (article 299 2), these overseas departments are outermost regions (OMR) of the EU - hence provisions of the EC treaty apply there while derogations are allowed. The overseas collectivities of French Polynesia, Mayotte, New Caledonia, Saint Pierre et Miquelon and Wallis and Futuna are Overseas Countries and Territories of the EU.[109] The status of the overseas collectivities of Saint-Barthelemy and Saint-Martin is, at present, defined as OMR by the Treaty of Lisbon.

Mayotte

A referendum on Mayotte becoming an overseas department of France in 2011 was held on 29 March 2009.[115] The outcome was "yes" (95.2%).[116] This may mean that there will be another minor enlargement of the European Union to Mayotte if amendments are made to current treaties.

New Caledonia

New Caledonia has a unique status inside France and is not even a collectivité territoriale, unlike all other French subdivisions. Currently, in regard to the EU, it is one of the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT).

As a result of the 1998 Nouméa Accord, New Caledonians will vote on an independence referendum scheduled between 2014 and 2019. This referendum will determine whether the territory remains a part of the French Republic as a "sui generis collectivity", or whether it will become an independent nation. The accords also specify a gradual devolution of powers to the local New Caledonian assembly.

Northern Cyprus

Area shown in orange under control of unrecognised Northern Cyprus

Officially, the island nation Cyprus is part of the European Union, under the de jure sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus. Turkish Cypriots are citizens of the Republic of Cyprus and thus of the European Union, and were entitled to vote in the 2004 European Parliament election (though only a few hundred registered). The EU's acquis communautaire is suspended indefinitely in the northern third of the island, which has remained outside the control of the Republic of Cyprus since the Turkish invasion of 1974. The Greek Cypriot community rejected the Annan Plan for the settlement of the Cyprus dispute in a referendum on 24 April 2004. Had the referendum been in favour of the settlement proposal, the island (excluding the British Sovereign Base Areas) would have joined the European Union as the United Cyprus Republic.

The European Union's relations with the Turkish Cypriot Community are handled by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Enlargement.[117]

States outside Europe

EU neighbouring countries:      European Union      Official candidates      European Neighbourhood Policy

In the Treaty of Maastricht (Article 49), it is stated that any European country (as defined by the EU political assessment) 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 of turning down 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.

Despite such precedents, Cape Verde has expressed its desire to join the EU.[118][119][120]

However, some non-European states have different degrees of integration with the EU stipulated by agreements, always short of membership. Alternatively such countries could be integrated into a larger regional block or an overlapping block such as Nicolas Sarkozy's proposal to create a Mediterranean Union, or a lesser organisation such as the Euro-Mediterranean free trade area. 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 formerly a 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.[121]

Cape Verde's per capita GDP is lower than any of the current member states, accession countries, or candidate countries. 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.

Israel

The principle of Israel joining the European Union has been supported by some politicians in both Israel and Europe, including the former Israeli Foreign Minister, Silvan Shalom,[122] former Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman[123] and the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.[124] Two Italian MEPs are currently campaigning in favour of Israeli membership.[125] An opinion poll in 2004 showed that 85% of Israelis would support an application for membership.[126]

The Israeli government has hinted several times that an EU membership bid is a possibility, but the EU itself proposes instead the closest possible integration "just short of full membership." Faster advancement of such plans is somewhat hampered by the current instability in the Middle East and conflicts in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Lebanon. European public opinion of some of Israel's policies - especially those related to the aforementioned areas of conflict is, in general, poor.[127] Proponents of Israel's accession to the EU suggest that such accession would help promoting peace, because being a part of a strong alliance like the EU would allow Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories with no fear of risking its security.

The European Council has not been asked to take a stance regarding whether or not Israel is a European state, but similar circumstances to Morocco (being geographically outside Europe and without exceptional features such as CoE membership) will most likely preclude its inclusion as a full member into the EU as well. However, it can obtain a large degree of integration through the current and future EU Neighbourhood Policies — the Spanish foreign minister Miguel Ángel 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 [9] for the inclusion of Israel into the EU as a full member is that it has a mostly "European" (or perhaps Europeanised) culture and thus forms an exclave in a largely Arab region. Israel also has a GDP per capita similar to many European countries. Some claim that allowing Israel into the EU would create a precedent for other geographically non-European countries to apply for membership, but in fact this precedent already exists as Cyprus, which is already a member state, is geographically in Asia. Proponents of Israel's accession to the EU claim that Israel's situation is similar to that of Cyprus - a country outside of Europe geographically, but a part of Europe culturally and socially.

Morocco

Morocco submitted an application to join the EU (then EEC) in July 1987, but it was rejected by the European Council later in the year on the grounds that it "did not consider Morocco a European country". Although there are factors such as the developing economy or unresolved border issues with several of its neighbours and the occupation of Western Sahara, a European Union Association Agreement similar to that applied to Tunisia and Algeria is implemented between Morocco and the EU. The Moroccan government argues that a "substantial" amount of its territory is already part of the European Union, specifically Spanish enclaves in Northern Africa that Morocco says is occupied territory.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/the-policy/conditions-for-enlargement/index_en.htm
  2. ^ "Legal questions of enlargement". Enlargement of the European Union. The European Parliament. 1998-05-19. http://www.europarl.eu.int/enlargement/briefings/23a2_en.htm. Retrieved 2008-07-09. 
  3. ^ a b http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/the-policy/countries-on-the-road-to-membership/index_en.htm
  4. ^ http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/enlargement_process/accession_process/how_does_a_country_join_the_eu/sap/index_en.htm
  5. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8425407.stm
  6. ^ http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/potential-candidate-countries/montenegro/index_en.htm
  7. ^ a b http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSLR972301
  8. ^ Economist (2004-04-29). "Ever-Expanding Union?". Economist.com. http://www.economist.com/agenda/displayStory.cfm?story_id=2628212. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  9. ^ http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1072332.html
  10. ^ http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/candidate-countries/turkey/eu_turkey_relations_en.htm
  11. ^ http://www.euractiv.com/en/enlargement/eu-turkey-relations/article-129678
  12. ^ http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/candidate-countries/croatia/eu_croatia_relations_en.htm
  13. ^ "Slovenia unblocks Croatian EU bid". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8250441.stm. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
  14. ^ Peterson, Kristina (2 September 2009) Croatia Could Enter EU In First Half Of 2010, Wall Street Journal
  15. ^ "Europe's Next Frontiers - Lecture at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs by Olli Rehn"]. Europa.eu. 31 October 2006. http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/06/654&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  16. ^ "Mazedoniens Premier Gruevski im Interview: "Beitrittsverhandlungen ab 2008"". Der Standard. November 7, 2006. http://derstandard.at/?id=2650785. Retrieved 2006-11-07. 
  17. ^ Presidency Conclusions – Brussels, 15/16 December 2005, 15914/05 7, EN
  18. ^ Macedonia PM in Greek outburst after EU summit
  19. ^ Greece threatens Macedonia NATO veto - Yahoo! News UK
  20. ^ Violence Erupts in Macedonian Election
  21. ^ International Observers Criticise Macedonia Election
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