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The unification of a continent
Since it was founded in the 1950s, the European Union has grown from 6 to 28 member states. Croatia last joined in 2013. At the end of January 31, 2020, the United Kingdom will be the first country to leave the Community. There remain 27 member states. There are currently around 500 million people in the EU.
You will find a map as an interactive graphic with additional information, among other things. about the euro and the Schengen area on the official website of the EU.
EU member states and date of accession:
- 1952 Establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands
- 1973 Denmark, Ireland, United Kingdom
- 1981 Greece
- 1986 Portugal, Spain
- 1995 Finland, Austria, Sweden
- 2004 Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Cyprus
- 2007 Bulgaria and Romania
- 2013 Croatia
- 2020 United Kingdom to leave
You can find an overview of all member states with flags, information on area size, population, etc. on the European Union website.
Detailed information on population, social conditions, economy, finances etc. can be found on the website of the statistical office of the European Union Eurostat.
There are currently five official candidate countries. These are Turkey, Serbia, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania. The EU grants this status to states whose application for membership has been unanimously accepted by the Council of the European Union. There are also two other potential accession countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.
In order to become a member of the European Union, the candidate country must meet a number of requirements, the so-called Copenhagen criteria. The European Council set it in 1993 at a meeting in Copenhagen. They were confirmed in 1995. Every applicant country must meet these criteria. The EU supports the candidate country in the gradual implementation by providing the framework and the necessary instruments with pre-accession strategies and accession negotiations.
- Political criterion: institutional stability as a guarantee for a democratic and constitutional order, for the protection of human rights and the respect and protection of minorities
- Economic criterion: functioning market economy and ability to withstand competitive pressures and market forces within the Union
- Acquis criterion: ability to assume the obligations arising from membership and to adopt the objectives of political union and economic and monetary union (adoption of the "acquis communautaire", i.e. the acquis communautaire)
For the European Council to be able to decide to open accession negotiations, the political criterion must already be met.
Advantages of enlargement
- More stability for Europe
- More security and freedom in Europe
- A bigger single market
- Economic development - new business opportunities
- With new members, the diversity and the exchange of ideas and knowledge grows
- Better quality of life for European citizens with the maxims of the new EU policy: B. Pollution and Organized Crime
- Enhanced role for the EU in the world economy
The European neighborhood policy
So that the EU can maintain good relations with its neighbors, even if they are not members of the EU, the "European Neighborhood Policy" has existed since 2004. Within the European Neighborhood Policy, the EU concludes agreements with its neighbors and works closely with them in the economic field , Security and Education together. The 16 states that make up the European Neighborhood Policy are: Algeria, Armenia, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Moldova, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Syria, Tunisia, the Ukraine and Belarus.
Further information is available on the website of the European External Action Service.
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