Overcoming Barriers to Membership in the European Union
In the aftermath of World War II major European players wanted to rebuild Europe's economy and ensure that such a devastating conflict would never happen again. Out of that desire came the European Coal and Steel Community(ECSC), an agreement in 1951 between six nations to have a common market for the commodities most associated with war . Over time the ECSC evolved into what it is today: the European Union(EU). Today the EU includes 28 countries and over 500 million citizens in a single market .
Countries have many reasons for wanting to join the EU. Membership means access to a large, competitive market with free movement of goods, services, people and capital. It creates a common culture and forges bonds, hopefully preventing future wars. But while the EU claims to be “open to all democratic European countries that wish to join ,” barriers to membership exist as well. Legal barriers, like the Copenhagen criteria named from a 1993 European Council meeting in Denmark, require candidates for membership to achieve a stable democracy that respects the rule of law, human rights and the protection of minorities. It also requires the candidate to have a functioning market economy . A policy called “acquis communiataire” came from the Copenhagen criteria which mandates members to align their national laws with all European Union policies. As the EU grows and passes more laws, the bureaucratic nature of acquis communataire slows EU expansion more and more.
Political barriers make joining the EU more difficult as well. For a new member to join the EU, all current EU member states must unanimously approve its entry . A number of reasons could mean a candidate does not get approved such as historic rivalry or territorial disputes with a member state. The unanimous approval condition is required before membership negotiations can begin, so this stipulation often leaves outsiders on the outside.
Continued addition of member states, more commonly referred to as “enlargement,” would be good for the EU. More members means “a bigger and more integrated market. It would also provide a buffer of stability and security on its southeastern border which would reduce migration levels .” The economic benefits explain why, despite the many obstacles, five countries currently make up the list of official candidates: Iceland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.
Each candidate has unique reasons why they have not yet been accepted or have not begun official...