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EU Member State
Category Sovereign states
Location European Union
Created 1952/1958
Number 27 (as at 1 January 2007)
Possible types Republics (20)
Kingdoms (6)
Grand duchies (1)
Populations 416,333–81,757,595
Areas 316–674,843 km²
Government Parliamentary representative democracy (23)
Presidential representative democracy (1)
Semi-presidential representative democracy (3)

A Member State of the European Union is any one of the 27 sovereign states that have acceded to the European Union (EU) since its inception in 1951 as the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). From an original membership of six states, there have been six successive enlargements, the largest occurring on 1 May 2004, when ten states joined. The EU is currently composed of twenty republics, six kingdoms, and one grand duchy.

Bulgaria and Romania are the most recent Member States, joining on 1 January 2007 bringing the EU to a population of 501,259,840[1] over an area of 4,456,304km². Negotiations are also under way with a number of other states. The process of enlargement is sometimes referred to as European integration. However, this term is also used to refer to the intensification of cooperation between EU Member States as national governments allow for the gradual harmonisation of national laws.

Before being allowed to join the European Union, a state must fulfil the economic and political conditions generally known as the Copenhagen criteria. These basically require that a candidate Member State must enjoy a secular, democratic system of government, together with the corresponding freedoms and institutions, and respect the rule of law. Under the terms of the Treaty on European Union, enlargement of the Union is conditional upon the agreement of each existing Member State as well as approval by the European Parliament.

Contents

List

Flag
Emb
lem

Common name
Official name
Accession
Population
Area (km²)
Capital
Languages
Special territories
Austria
Austria Bundesadler.svg
Austria Republik Österreich 01995-01-01 1 January 1995 &0000000008372930.0000008,372,930[2] &0000000000083871.00000083,871 Vienna German
Belgium
Greater Coat of Arms of Belgium.svg
Belgium Koninkrijk België
Royaume de Belgique
Königreich Belgien
01957-03-25 25 March 1957 &0000000010827519.00000010,827,519[3] &0000000000030528.00000030,528 Brussels Flemish (Dutch)
French
German
Bulgaria
Coat of arms of Bulgaria.svg
Bulgaria Република България 02007-01-01 1 January 2007 &0000000007576751.0000007,576,751[4] &0000000000110910.000000110,910 Sofia Bulgarian
Cyprus
Cyprus Coat of Arms.svg
Cyprus Κυπριακή Δημοκρατία
Kıbrıs Cumhuriyeti
02004-05-01 1 May 2004 &0000000000801851.000000801,851[5] &0000000000009251.0000009,251 Nicosia Greek
Turkish
Czech Republic
Coat of arms of the Czech Republic.svg
Czech Republic Česká republika 02004-05-01 1 May 2004 &0000000010512397.00000010,512,397[6] &0000000000078866.00000078,866 Prague Czech
Denmark
COA of Denmark.svg
Denmark Kongeriget Danmark 01973-01-01 1 January 1973 &0000000005547088.0000005,547,088[7] &0000000000043094.00000043,094 Copenhagen Danish
Estonia
Coat of arms of Estonia.svg
Estonia Eesti Vabariik 02004-05-01 1 May 2004 &0000000001340274.0000001,340,274[8] &0000000000045226.00000045,226 Tallinn Estonian
Finland
Coat of arms of Finland.svg
Finland Suomen tasavalta
Republiken Finland
01995-01-01 1 January 1995 &0000000005350475.0000005,350,475[9] &0000000000338145.000000338,145 Helsinki Finnish
Swedish
France
Armoiries république française.svg
France République française 01957-03-25 25 March 1957 &0000000064709480.00000064,709,480[10] &0000000000674843.000000674,843 Paris French
Germany
Coat of Arms of Germany.svg
Germany Bundesrepublik Deutschland 01957-03-25 25 March 1957[t 3] &0000000081757595.00000081,757,595[11] &0000000000357050.000000357,050 Berlin German
Greece
Coat of arms of Greece.svg
Greece Ελληνική Δημοκρατία 01981-01-01 1 January 1981 &0000000011125179.00000011,125,179[12] &0000000000131990.000000131,990 Athens Greek
Hungary
Coat of Arms of Hungary.svg
Hungary Magyar Köztársaság 02004-05-01 1 May 2004 &0000000010013628.00000010,013,628[13] &0000000000093030.00000093,030 Budapest Hungarian
Republic of Ireland
Coat of arms of Ireland.svg
Ireland Éire
Ireland[t 4]
01973-01-01 1 January 1973 &0000000004450878.0000004,450,878[14] &0000000000070273.00000070,273 Dublin Irish
English
Italy
Italy-Emblem.svg
Italy Repubblica Italiana 01957-03-25 25 March 1957 &0000000060397353.00000060,397,353[15] &0000000000301318.000000301,318 Rome Italian
Latvia
Coat of Arms of Latvia.svg
Latvia Latvijas Republika 02004-05-01 1 May 2004 &0000000002248961.0000002,248,961[16] &0000000000064589.00000064,589 Riga Latvian
Lithuania
Coat of Arms of Lithuania.svg
Lithuania Lietuvos Respublika 02004-05-01 1 May 2004 &0000000003329227.0000003,329,227[17] &0000000000065303.00000065,303 Vilnius Lithuanian
Luxembourg
Coat of Arms of Luxembourg.svg
Luxembourg Grand-Duché de Luxembourg
Großherzogtum Luxemburg
Groussherzogtum Lëtzebuerg
01957-03-25 25 March 1957 &0000000000502207.000000502,207[18] &0000000000002586.0000002,586 Luxembourg French
German
Luxembourgish
Malta
Coat of arms of Malta.svg
Malta Repubblika ta' Malta
Republic of Malta
02004-05-01 1 May 2004 &0000000000416333.000000416,333[19] &0000000000000316.000000316 Valletta Maltese
English
Netherlands
Coat of arms of the Netherlands.svg
Netherlands Koninkrijk der Nederlanden[t 5] 01957-03-25 25 March 1957 &0000000016576800.00000016,576,800[20] &0000000000041526.00000041,526 Amsterdam[t 6] Dutch
Poland
Herb Polski.svg
Poland Rzeczpospolita Polska 02004-05-01 1 May 2004 &0000000038163895.00000038,163,895[21] &0000000000312683.000000312,683 Warsaw Polish
Portugal
Coat of arms of Portugal.svg
Portugal República Portuguesa 01986-01-01 1 January 1986 &0000000010636888.00000010,636,888[22] &0000000000092391.00000092,391 Lisbon Portuguese
Romania
Coat of arms of Romania.svg
Romania România[t 7] 02007-01-01 1 January 2007 &0000000021466174.00000021,466,174[23] &0000000000238391.000000238,391 Bucharest Romanian
Slovakia
Coat of Arms of Slovakia.svg
Slovakia Slovenská republika 02004-05-01 1 May 2004 &0000000005424057.0000005,424,057[24] &0000000000049037.00000049,037 Bratislava Slovakian
Slovenia
Coat of Arms of Slovenia.svg
Slovenia Republika Slovenija 02004-05-01 1 May 2004 &0000000002054119.0000002,054,119[25] &0000000000020273.00000020,273 Ljubljana Slovenian
Spain
Escudo de España (mazonado).svg
Spain Reino de España 01986-01-01 1 January 1986 &0000000046087170.00000046,087,170[26] &0000000000506030.000000506,030 Madrid Spanish
Sweden
Coat of Arms of Sweden.svg
Sweden Konungariket Sverige 01995-01-01 1 January 1995 &0000000009347899.0000009,347,899[27] &0000000000449964.000000449,964 Stockholm Swedish
United Kingdom
UK Royal Coat of Arms.svg
United Kingdom United Kingdom of Great Britain
and Northern Ireland
01973-01-01 1 January 1973 &0000000062041708.00000062,041,708[28] &0000000000244820.000000244,820 London English
Notes
  1. ^ Greenland left the European Community in 1985.
  2. ^ a b See Article 355(1) of the Treay on the Functioning of the European Union. [1]
  3. ^ On 01990-10-03 3 October 1990, the constituent states of the former German Democratic Republic acceded to the Federal Republic of Germany, automatically becoming part of the EU.
  4. ^ Constitutional name of Ireland is Ireland, "Republic of" is only used to distinguish it from the north.
  5. ^ "Kingdom of the Netherlands" is correct. See this article. However, only Netherlands (i.e. the European part) is fully subject to EU law.
  6. ^ Amsterdam is the constitutional capital, however The Hague is the seat of government.
  7. ^ Official name is just Romania

Enlargement

The continental territories of the member states of the European Union (European Communities pre-1993), animated in order of accession.

Enlargement has been a principal feature of the Union's political landscape. The EU's predecessors were founded by the "Inner Six", those countries willing to forge ahead with the Community while others remained sceptical. It was but a decade before the first countries changed their policy and attempted to join the Union, which led to the first scepticism of enlargement. French President Charles de Gaulle feared British membership would be an American Trojan horse and vetoed its application. It was only after de Gaulle left office and a 12-hour talk by British Prime Minister Edward Heath and French President George Pompidou took place did Britain's third application succeed (in 1970).[29][30][31]

Applying in 1969 were Britain, Ireland, Denmark and Norway. Norway however declined to accept the invitation to become a member,[32] with the electorate voting against it[33] leaving just the UK, Ireland and Denmark to join.[29] But despite the setbacks, and the withdrawal of Greenland from Denmark's membership in 1985,[34] three more countries would join the Communities before the end of the Cold War.[29] In 1987, the geographical extent of the project was tested when Morocco applied, and was rejected as it was not considered a European country.[35]

1990 saw the Cold War drawing to a close, and East Germany was welcomed into the Community as part of a reunited Germany. Shortly after the previously neutral countries of Austria, Finland and Sweden acceded to the new European Union,[29] though Switzerland, which applied in 2002, froze its application due to opposition from voters[36] while Norway, which had applied once more, had its voters reject membership again.[37] Meanwhile, the members of the former Eastern bloc and Yugoslavia were all starting to move towards EU membership. 10 of these joined in a "big bang" enlargement on 1 May 2004 symbolising the unification of East and Western Europe in the EU.[38]

2007 saw the latest members, Bulgaria and Romania, accede to the Union and the EU has prioritised membership for the Western Balkans. Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey are all formal, acknowledged candidates.[39] Turkey, which applied in the 1980s, is a more contentious issue but entered negotiations in 2004 (see Accession of Turkey to the European Union).[40] There are at present no plans to cease enlargement; according to the Copenhagen criteria, membership of the European Union is open to any European country that is a stable, free market liberal democracy that respects the rule of law and human rights. Furthermore, it has to be willing to accept all the obligations of membership such as adopting all previously agreed law (the 170,000 pages of acquis communautaire) and joining the euro.[41]

Political systems

As discussed above, the entry criteria for the EU is limited to liberal democracies. However, the exact political system of a state is not limited. Thus, each state has its own system based upon its historical evolution. Seven states are constitutional monarchies (one of these is a grand duchy, the others kingdoms), meaning they have a monarchy although political powers are practiced by elected politicians. Of the republics, Cyprus operates a presidential system (the president is head of state and government) and three others operate a semi-presidential system (competencies shared between the president and prime minister. All remaining republics and all the monarchies operate a parliamentary system whereby the head of state (president or monarchy) plays only a ceremonial role. There are also differences in regional and local government with some states such as Germany being formed as a federation and others such as Poland being a unitary state.

Representation

European Union
Flag of the European Union

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
the European Union

  

Each state has representation in the institutions of the European Union. Full membership gives the government of a Member State a seat in the Council of the European Union and European Council. When decisions are not being taken by consensus, votes are weighted so that a country with a greater population has more votes within the Council than a smaller country (although not exact, smaller countries have more votes than their population would allow relative to the largest countries). The Presidency of the Council of the European Union rotates between each of the member states, allowing each state six months to help direct the agenda of the EU.

Similarly, each state is assigned seats in Parliament according to their population (again, with the smaller countries receiving more seats per inhabitant than the larger ones). The members of the European Parliament have been elected by universal suffrage since 1979 (before which they were seconded from national parliaments).

The national governments appoint one member each to the European Commission (in accord with its president), the European Court of Justice (in accord with other members) and the Court of Auditors. Historically, larger Member States were granted an extra Commissioner. However, as the body grew, this right has been removed and each state is represented equally. The largest states are granted an Advocates General in the Court of Justice. Finally, the governing of the European Central Bank is made up of the governors of each national central bank (who may or may not be government appointed).

The larger states traditionally carry more weight in negotiations, however smaller states can be effective impartial mediators and citizens of smaller states are often appointed to sensitive top posts to avoid competition between the larger states.

Sovereignty

The founding treaties state that all Member States are indivisibly sovereign and of equal value. However the EU does follow a supranational system (similar to federalism) in European Community matters, in that combined sovereignty is delegated by each member to the institutions in return for representation within those institutions. This practice is often referred to as "pooling of sovereignty".[42] Those institutions are then empowered to make laws and execute them at a European level. If a state fails to comply with the law of the European Union, it may be fined or have funds withdrawn. In extreme cases, there are provisions for the voting rights or membership of a state to be suspended. On issues outside the European Community (foreign policy, police and courts) less sovereignty is transferred, with issues being dealt with by consensus and cooperation.

However, as sovereignty still originates from the national level, it may be withdrawn by a Member State who wishes to leave. Hence, if a law is agreed that is not to the liking of a state, it may withdraw from the EU to avoid it. This however has not happened as the benefits of membership are often seen to outweigh any negative impact of certain laws. Furthermore, in realpolitik, concessions and political pressure may lead to a state accepting something not in their interests in order to improve relations and hence strengthen their position on other issues.

The question of whether EU law is superior to national law is subject to some debate. The treaties do not give a judgement on the matter but court judgements have established EU's law superiority over national law and it is affirmed in a declaration attached to the Treaty of Lisbon (the European Constitution would have enshrined this). Some national legal systems also explicitly accept the Court of Justice's interpretation, such as France and Italy, however in Poland it does not override the national constitution, which it does in Germany. The exact areas where the member states have given legislative competence to the EU are as followed. Every area not mention remains with member states;

EU exclusive competence
The Union has exclusive competence to make directives and conclude international agreements when provided for in a Union legislative act.
  • the customs union
  • the establishing of the competition rules necessary for the functioning of the internal market
  • monetary policy for the Member States whose currency is the euro
  • the conservation of marine biological resources under the common fisheries policy
  • common commercial (trade) policy
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EU shared competence
Member States cannot exercise competence in areas where the Union has done so.
  • the internal market
  • social policy, for the aspects defined in this Treaty
  • economic, social and territorial cohesion
  • agriculture and fisheries, excluding the conservation of marine biological resources
  • environment
  • consumer protection
  • transport
  • trans-European networks
  • energy
  • the area of freedom, security and justice
  • common safety concerns in public health matters, for the aspects defined in this Treaty
  • Common Foreign and Security Policy
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EU supporting competence
The Union can carry out actions to support, coordinate or supplement Member States' actions.
  • the protection and improvement of human health
  • industry
  • culture
  • tourism
  • education, youth, sport and vocational training
  • civil protection (disaster prevention)
  • administrative cooperation
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Related states

European Free Trade Association Council of Europe Switzerland Albania Croatia Liechtenstein Iceland Norway Armenia Schengen Area European Economic Area Azerbaijan Bosnia and Herzegovina Austria Germany Malta Georgia (country) Belgium Slovenia Greece Netherlands Cyprus Eurozone Moldova European Union Finland Italy Portugal Spain Sweden Republic of Ireland Montenegro France Slovakia Luxembourg Lithuania Republic of Macedonia Poland Hungary Bulgaria Denmark Russian Federation Czech Republic Romania Latvia Estonia Serbia United Kingdom Ukraine European Union Customs Union Monaco Turkey San Marino Andorra Vatican City International status and usage of the euro#States with issuing rights
A clickable Euler diagram showing the relationships between various multinational European organisations.vde

There are a number of countries with strong links with the EU, similar to elements of membership. Following Norway's failure to join the EU, it became one of the members of the European Economic Area which also includes Iceland and Liechtenstein (all former members have joined the EU and Switzerland rejected membership). The EEA links these countries into the EU's market, extending the four freedoms to these states. In return, they pay a membership fee and have to adopt most areas of EU law (which they do not have direct impact in shaping). The democratic repercussions of this have been described as "fax democracy" (waiting for new laws to be faxed in from Brussels rather than being involved).[43]

A different example is Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has been under international supervision. The High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina is an international administrator who has wide ranging powers over Bosnia and Herzegovina to ensure the peace agreement is respected. The High Representative is also the EU's representative, and is in practice appointed by the EU. In this role, and since a major ambition of Bosnia and Herzegovina is to join the EU, the country has become a de facto protectorate of the EU. The EU appointed representative has the power to impose legislation and dismiss elected officials and civil servants, meaning the EU has greater direct control over Bosnia and Herzegovina than its own Member States. Indeed the state's flag was inspired by the EU's flag.[44] In the same manner as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo is under heavy EU influence, particularly after the de facto transfer from UN to EU authority. In theory Kosovo is supervised by EU missions, with justice and policing personal training and helping to build up the state institutions. However the EU mission does enjoy certain executive powers over the state and has a responsibility to maintain stability and order.[45]

However there is also the largely defunct term of associate member. It has occasionally been applied to states which have signed an association agreement with the EU. Associate membership is not a formal classification and does not entitle the state to any of the representation of free movement rights that full membership allows. The term is almost unheard of in the modern context and was primarily used in the earlier days of the EU with countries such as Greece and Turkey. Turkey's association agreement was the 1963 Ankara Agreement, from this it is drawn that Turkey became an associate member on that day.[46][47] Present association agreements include the Stabilisation and Association Agreements with the western Balkans; these states are no longer termed "associate members".

See also

References

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