Established in 1957, the European Union has now grown from six to twenty-seven Member States as a result of five enlargements. Enlargement is an important driving force for integration. Nevertheless, it was the fifth enlargement, which occurred on an unprecedented scale in two successive waves in 2004 and 2007 to welcome twelve new Member States, that defined the contours of the enlargement policy. This now covers the countries applying for EU membership and the potential candidates of the Western Balkans. The former come under the enlargement process and the latter under the stabilisation and association process.
Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union and the Copenhagen criteria provide the framework for enlargement. Whereas the objective of the enlargement process is to prepare the applicant countries so that they can assume their obligations as Member States on accession, the stabilisation and association process aims gradually to bring the potential candidate countries closer to the EU. These processes are based on strict conditions, with due regard for the specific needs and merits of each country, and are supported by bilateral and financial instruments devised for this purpose.
Enlargement strategy, Acceding countries, Candidate countries, Croatia, Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Financial aid, Instrument of Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA), Sectoral cooperation, Turkish Cypriot community
Enlargement 2004 and 2007
History of enlargement, General Provisions, Sectorial approach, Pre-accession instruments 2000 - 2006, Phare, ISPA, SAPARD, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia
The stabilisation and association process: the western balkans
Enlargement strategy, Stabilisation and Association process, European partnerships, Instruments, Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA), European Agency for Reconstruction, Participation in Community programmes, Exceptional trade measures, Sectoral cooperation