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The 2004 Enlargement

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Saved by David Ansell
on February 16, 2009 at 5:13:45 pm



The 1st May 2004 saw ten states join the European Union; Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia & Slovenia.  Bringing the number of member states from 15 to 25 members it was the biggest enlargement the EU has ever seen.  Commentators hailed this enlargement “the big bang” (BBC.co.uk, 2001)  not only due to its magnitude but because of the significance of former Soviet bloc states becoming members, thereby signifying an end to the Cold War division of Europe between East and West.  The accession of Cyprus to the EU is also significant given the implications for the Turkish application for EU membership.






-The Evolving Enlargement Doctrine

-The Central & Eastern European Enlargement

-The Mediterranean Enlargement

-European Commission Video:  The New Europe of 25 Countries




































































































Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe.

PHARE launched

European Council declares it has a 'special responsibility' toward CEE states.

Trade and Cooperation Agreements signed.

Trade and Cooperation Agreements signed.

Cyprus & Malta apply for EC membership.

Europe Agreements signed with Poland, Hungary & Czechoslovakia.

CEFTA formed.

The Copenhagen Summit:  established criteria for membership

Commission issues favourable opinion on Cypriot membership but agreements put on hold due to contentious division of the island.

Hungary applies.

Poland applies

The Essen Summit:  approved a Pre-Accession strategy.

Latvia applies.

Estonia applies.

Lithuania applies.

Czech Republic applies.

Slovenia applies.

Commission 'Opinions' presented as part of Agenda 2000 report.

Malta cancels its application following the election of the anti-EU Labour Party.

The Luxembourg Summit:  EU formally decides to begin accession process with 10 CEE states and Cyprus.

Accession Partnerships finalised for all CEE candidate states along with National Programmes for the Adoption of the Acquis.

New instruments of support launched;  ISPA, SAPARD and Twinning.

EU invites Cyprus to begin Accession negotiations along with other first wave CEE states (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Estonia and Slovenia)

Malta reactivates application when Conservatives return to power.

Following Kosovo war, the Commission recommends opening up negotiations with all remaining candidate states.

Commission reports Malta can join accession negotiations taking place.

The Helsinki Summit:  second wave candidate states invited to open accession negotiations early 2000 - wave strategy abandoned.

Accession negotiations with Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and Malta begin.

The Gothenburg Summit:  framework agreed for completion of the enlargement, process is declared 'irreversible'.

Timetable for completion of negotiations by 2002 and membership by 2004. 

Principle of 'catch-up' applied to Slovakia, Latvia & Lithuania.

Brussels European Council summit resolved issues over CAP reform and financing enlargement to clear the way for the conclusion of negotiations.

Accession negotiations with Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia end.

The Copenhagen Summit:  European Council endorse accession agreements.

Malta holds successful Accession referendum.

Slovenia hold successful Accession referendum.

Hungary hold successful Accession referendum.

The Accession Treaty signed in Athens by Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia.

Lithuania holds successful Accession referendum.

Slovakia holds successful Accession referendum.

Poland holds successful Accession referendum.

Czech Republic holds successful Accession referendum.

Estonia holds successful Accession referendum.

Latvia holds successful Accession referendum.

Ireland hosts Accession ceremony which sees Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovaki & Slovenia all join the EU.



The Evolving Enlargement Doctrine


Over the process of European integration a gradual body of what amounts to an enlargement ‘doctrine’ has been established to help steer the process of enlargement through a mutually acceptable path for the Union and its member states.  Traditionally the process of enlargement was founded upon the content of the treaties, the acquis communautaire and the established procedure of accession negotiations.  The 2004 enlargement saw the addition of the ‘Copenhagen Criteria’ which placed heavier demands upon aspirant EU states than previous enlargements, both politically and economically, with the monitoring and assessment of candidates’ credentials practised on a larger scale.  (Michalski, 2006: 275)




Michalski (2006: 273) describes the various principles and requirements of EU membership which have been established through the treaties.  In the Treaty of Rome (1957) it states that "Any European state may apply to become a member of the community.” thereby establishing the fact that membership be based upon a ‘European' identity.  This provides the EU with an ambiguous geographical border and cultural heritage which can be open to interpretation by the member states, but at the very least can limit European integration to the continent of Europe, as was seen with the rejection of the Moroccan application for EU membership.  The Single European Act (1986) brought into force the assent of the European Parliament as a requirement of enlargement, adding to that of consensus amongst member states in the Council.  In anticipation of possible enlargement following the Cold War, the Maastricht Treaty (1992) established the principles of the Union, namely - liberty, democracy, human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.  Finally, the Amsterdam Treaty (1997) sought to safeguard the sanctity of these principles by introducing measures which granted the EU the power to suspend the rights of a member found to be in breach.


The acquis communautaire


Europa.eu (n.d.) states that:


“The Community acquis is the body of common rights and obligations which bind all the Member States together within the European Union. It is constantly evolving and comprises:


·         §         the content, principles and political objectives of the Treaties;


·         §         the legislation adopted in application of the treaties and the case law of the Court of Justice;


·         §         the declarations and resolutions adopted by the Union;


·         §         measures relating to the common foreign and security policy;


·         §         measures relating to justice and home affairs;


·         §         international agreements concluded by the Community and those concluded by the Member States between themselves in the field of the Union's activities. “



This was the more detailed and pronounced enlargement doctrine which was utilised during the first four enlargement rounds.  Total acceptance of the acquis was the primary condition of membership. 



The Impact of the CEE states on Enlargement Doctrine - 'The Copenhagen Criteria'


In anticipation of the “big bang" enlargement which would see new democracies from Central & Eastern Europe seek EU membership, member states felt the need to “spell out the conditions for membership more explicitly in order to protect the Union framework from a dilution of objectives, a fragmentation of policies, and a breakdown of institutional structures."  (Michalski, 2006: 275)  Adding to the prior requirements of European identity and mainly economic principles, the European Council agreed in June 1993 to accept the candidacy of the CEE states on fulfilment of what has become known as the Copenhagen criteria.  The Copenhagen criteria stipulates that;


"Membership requires that the candidate country has achieved stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities, the existence of a functioning market economy as well as the capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union. Membership presupposes the candidate's ability to take on the obligations of membership including adherence to the aims of political, economic and monetary union.” (European Council 1993)



The Copenhagen criteria led to accusations that the Union had ‘raised the bar’ to membership due to demanding fulfilment of criteria that had never previously been asked of applicants, not only this but the regular assessment and evaluation of candidates readiness for membership was to be assessed on an unprecedented scale.  (Michalski, 2006: 275)


The fifth enlargement was also unique in its use of a Pre-Accession strategy in which the EU provided assistance in preparing candidate states for membership with various financial, agricultural, structural and administrative instruments such as’ PHARE (Poland and Hungary: Assistance for Restructuring their Economies), SAPARD (Special Accession Programme for Agricultural and Rural Development), ISPA (Instrument for Structural Policies for Pre-Accession), Twinning and TAIEX (Technical Assistance Information Exchange Office).  (Michalski, 2006: 277)  The EU had not only raised the bar to membership but was also monitoring much closely the preparedness of candidate states for joining the EU, with various policy and monitoring instruments adopted to this end.



The Central & Eastern European Enlargement


 The Collapse of Communism and the Return to 'Europe' ?


The beginnings of the historic CEE enlargement can be traced back to the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe.  The process of enlargement eastward was a daunting one due to the amount of applicants and their make-up as previously Communist centrally-planned economies transforming into democracies utilising market economics.  O’Brennan (2006: 14) describes how CEE states opportunistically presented their case for membership with reference to the values of European integration embodied within the treaties.  With the collapse of Communism and the possibility of Eastern European states joining their integrated Western counterparts, the CEE states could finally ‘Return to Europe’.  The Union’s first response to the collapse of Communism and the plight of CEE states came in the Strasbourg Summit of December 1989 where the European Council declared it had a ‘special responsibility’ for CEE states.  Despite this initially swift and benevolent response toward Eastern integration, the road toward enlargement was an immense challenge for the Union and “Given its own political and economic constraints, inevitably the EU could not meet all of them in a timely, effective, and generous fashion.” (Dinan, 2005: 143).



The Europe Agreements


Initially the EU provided assistance to the CEE states in the form of financial aid (through PHARE) and Trade and Cooperation agreements, the main purpose of which was to help develop social-market economies and democratic institutions.  (Dinan, 2004: 273)  Described as a second stage in EU and CEE relations, Europe Agreements (also known as Association Agreements) were to be negotiated with the applicants, which were established to provide an institutional framework for the CEE states’ relationship with the EU with the purpose of aiding their economic, social and political transformation.  (Michalski 2006: 287)


The Europe Agreements made no promise of EU membership, but it was stated as the ultimate objective.  Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland negotiated agreements throughout 1991 after being identified by the Commission as the most prepared in terms of their economies and the most strategically important.  Ten agreements were eventually completed with negotiation and ratification ongoing into the mid-1990s.  The EU was criticised for the length of time the negotiations took and the display of a much more hesitant and selfish approach to eastern enlargement.  (Dinan, 2004: 273)  O’Brennan (2006: 20) suggests that various factors were behind this response.  Firstly Western European integration was initially fuelled by the collapse of communism, there was a fear that eastern enlargement would benefit Germany most, the recession of the early 1990’s led to a focus on domestic policies, the logistics of co-ordinating CEE aid programmes and a realisation amongst EU leaders of the institutional and policy implications for such a grand enlargement.


Copenhagen to Copenhagen


The Copenhagen Summit of June 1993 heralded a new phase in the enlargement process, with the European Council finally stating that the CEE candidate states will eventually become members of the EU subject to meeting the Copenhagen criteria also endorsed by the European Council at this summit.  From 1994 to 1996, the Europe Agreements came into force and ten CEE states submitted their applications for membership.


As part of the Agenda 2000 report, the European Commission was asked to produce an assessment of each candidate’s readiness for membership, known as the Opinions.  These were presented in July 1997 and concluded that none of the candidates were completely ready for EU membership but that enlargement should take place in waves – with Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Estonia and Cyprus recommended for first-wave accession negotiations starting in 1998.  (Michalski, 2006: 287)


-december 1999 abandon of waves, opening to remaining 5 cee states plus malta – second group caught up to negotiations despite late start.

-gothernburg summit – timetable for completion of negotiations and date for membership.

-brussels European council meeting removes last obstacle

-copenhagen summit – formally ended negotiations.





The Mediterranean Enlargement




Cyprus applied to join the Union in July 1990 and was given a favourable opinion by the European Commission in June 1993.  Politically and economically Cyprus had a compelling case for EU membership and as far back as 1973 the EC had completed an association agreement with the island.  The key concerns for the EU in admitting Cyprus were therefore the contentious division of the island into the Greek Cypriot south and Turkish Cypriot north, the Turkish application for membership in 1987 and the ever-present hostile relationship between Greece and Turkey.  (Dinan, 2005: 152)


Dinan (2004: 281) states that “Member states were reluctant to bring a divided Cyprus into the EU, but Greece threatened to veto the entire enlargement if Cyprus was not admitted alongside the first wave of Central and Eastern European applicants.”  Cyprus was therefore invited along with the other 5 first-wave CEE states to begin accession negotiations in March 1998.  Negotiations with Cyprus went with relative ease due to its generally good political and economic position, with the main concern being banking laws.  (Dinan, 2005: 153).  Therefore despite Turkish appeals and the partitioned status of the island, Cyprus eventually joined the EU in 2004, albeit with EU legislation currently suspended in the northern half of the island, as per Protocol 10 of the Accession Treaty of 2003.  (Europa.eu)




The other Mediterranean state joining the historically significant 2004 enlargement was Malta.  Malta applied to join the Union in 1990 along with Cyprus, but its application was cancelled in October 1996 upon the election of the anti-EU Labour party.  However with the Conservative's return to power in September 1998, the application was reactivated.  Despite this blip, like Cyprus, politically and economically Malta's application posed much less of a problem to the EU than that of the CEE applicants.  Dinan (2005: 153) states that "the EU did not relish having another member state as small as Luxembourg but without Luxembourg's international standing or tradition of European integration."  but Malta nevertheless moved with ease through its accession negotiations, and with another general election just a week before signing the accession treaties in April 2003, the pro-EU Conservatives re-election ensured Malta would overcome the final roadblock in its path to EU accession. (Dinan, 2005: 154)



European Commission Video:  The New Europe of 25 Countries








BBC.co.uk. 2001. Eastern Europe gears up for “Big Bang”. [online] (Updated 14 Nov 2001) Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/1656622.stm [Accessed December 4th 2008]


Dinan, D. 2004. Europe Recast:  A History of European Union. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan


Dinan, D. 2005. Ever Closer Union:  An Introduction to European Integration. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan


Europa.eu. 2007. The 2004 Enlargement: the challenge of a 25 member EU. [online] (Updated 23 Jan 2007) Available at: http://europa.eu/scadplus/leg/en/lvb/e50017.htm [Accessed September 24th 2008]


Europa.eu. Turkish Cypriot Community. [online] Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/turkish_cypriot_community/index_en.htm [Accessed November 11th 2008]


Michalski, A. 2006. The Enlarging European Union. In Dinan, D, ed. Origins and Evolution of the European Union. Oxford : Oxford University Press. Ch. 13.


O’Brennan, J. 2006. The Eastern Enlargement of the European Union. London : Routledge






The European Commission. 2006. The New Europe of 25 countries. [online] (Updated October 25th 2006) Available at: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7024163983801239033&ei=7vE7SYflOIbyiALV7oSvCQ&q=eu+2004 [Accessed:  November 26th 2008] 



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