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The Enlargement Of The European Union

2433 words - 10 pages

The enlargement of the European Union (EU) in 2004 and 2007 has been termed as the largest single expansion of the EU with a total of 12 new member states – bringing the number of members to 27 – and more than 77 million citizens joining the Commission (Murphy 2006, Neueder 2003, Ross 2011). A majority of the new member states in this enlargement are from the eastern part of the continent and were countries that had just emerged from communist economies (EC 2009, Ross 2011), although overall, the enlargement also saw new member states from very different economic, social and political compared to that of the old member states (EC 2009, Ross 2011). This enlargement was also a historical significance in European history, for it saw the reunification of Europe since the Cold War in a world of increasing globalization (EC 2009, Mulle et al. 2013, Ross 2011). For that, overall, this enlargement is considered by many to have been a great success for the EU and its citizens but it is not without its problems and challenges (EC 2009, Mulle et al. 2013, Ross 2011). This essay will thus examine the impact of the 2004/2007 enlargements from two perspectives: firstly, the impact of the enlargements on the EU as a whole, and thereafter, how the enlargements have affected the new member states that were acceded during the 2004/2007 periods. Included in the essay will be the extent of their integration into the EU and how being a part of the Commission has contributed to their development as nation states. Following that, this essay will then evaluate the overall success of the enlargement process and whether the EU or the new member states have both benefited from the accessions or whether the enlargement has only proven advantageous to one than the other. This essay will then conclude by considering how the impact of this historical enlargement affects the prospects of future EU enlargements with regards to the potential candidate member states that have applied for membership to the EU.

While the accession of 12 new member states during the 2004/2007 enlargements was seen as a triumph in terms of reuniting Europe since the Cold War (EC 2009, Ross 2011), it was also the most complicated enlargement process yet due to the diverse economic, social and political backgrounds the new members states brought to the table which highlights the complexities in terms of integrating the new member states to the existing institutional structures of the EU (EC 2009, Ross 2011). Because of this, the considerations and preparations for this enlargement process began about a decade before (in 1993) the official accession when the Copenhagen European Council extended invitations for membership application and proceeded to set the Copenhagen Criteria (of enlargement), which consisted of economic, political and legislative criteria applicants had to fulfill for their membership consideration (EC 2009, Neueder 2003, Ross 2011).

Following the entry of the 12 new member...

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