Authored by: Cristina Chiva

The Routledge Handbook of Gender and EU Politics

Print publication date:  March  2021
Online publication date:  March  2021

Print ISBN: 9781138485259
eBook ISBN: 9781351049955
Adobe ISBN:


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The European Union’s policy on enlargement has evolved significantly over time. In the 1957 Treaty of Rome, membership conditionality consisted in the requirement that applicant states be ‘European’ – a statement that initially referred to geographical positioning but was gradually expanded to encompass adherence to the European Union’s values, including non-discrimination and equality between men and women. For the period between 1957 and 1993, membership conditionality was minimal, with virtually no formal criteria for membership except geographical positioning in Europe, and no significant attempts to monitor candidate countries’ progress towards accession. By the early 1990s, the prospect of EU expansion to post-communist Europe had exposed the risks that such a minimalist approach to enlargement conditionality held for the EU, especially when confronted with enlarging to ten post-communist countries at the same time. The prospect of the eastern enlargement thus forced the EU to formulate and implement a new accession policy, one designed to deal with the complex issues arising from bringing the former communist countries into the fold. The policy was originally developed for the post-communist countries that joined in 2004 (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia) and 2007 (Bulgaria and Romania). It was also applied to Croatia during the accession negotiations leading to membership in 2013. Most importantly, the template for enlargement policy originally developed in the 1990s and 2000s remains in place for the current candidates for EU membership: Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.

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