Enlargement policy

Authored by: Neill Nugent

The Routledge Handbook of European Public Policy

Print publication date:  November  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138927339
eBook ISBN: 9781315682723
Adobe ISBN:


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Since its foundation in the 1950s the EC/EU has increased in size from the original six member states to twenty-eight. Acceding states have not joined one-by-one, but rather in a series of enlargement rounds. So, the first round saw Denmark, Ireland and the UK join in 1973. In the second round – commonly called ‘the Mediterranean round’ – Greece joined in 1981 and Portugal and Spain did so in 1986. In the third round – often referred to as ‘the EFTAn’ round because the states that acceded were all members of the European Free Trade Association – Austria, Finland and Sweden joined in 1995. And in the fourth, and by far the largest, round, eight Central and Eastern European countries (CEECs) – the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia – plus Cyprus and Malta became members in 2004, followed by Bulgaria and Romania in 2007: hence it coming to be called the 10 + 2 round. Croatia joined in 2013, which may seem as a ‘one-off’ but which in time is likely to be seen as the frontrunner of a (very protracted) Balkan enlargement round.

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