When will enlargement happen?
The Copenhagen European Council of December 2002 marked the conclusion of accession negotiations with Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia and agreed to welcome these States as members from 1 May 2004. The existing and new Member States signed the Accession Treaty on 16 April 2003. All 25 parties to the Treaty have until 30 April 2004 to ratify it.
The Copenhagen Council also agreed on the objective of welcoming Bulgaria and Romania as members of the European Union in 2007, depending on further progress in complying with the membership criteria. Turkey has not yet started negotiations, but will do so ‘without delay’ if the European Council in December 2004, on the basis of a report and a recommendation from the Commission, decides that Turkey fulfils the Copenhagen political criteria.
How will the UK Government ratify the Accession Treaty?
The Accession Treaty was signed by Heads of Government or their representatives in Athens on 16 April 2003. Subsequently, the Government introduced a Bill in Parliament to implement the effects of the Treaty in UK law. Once the Bill is enacted, the Government will proceed formally to ratify the Treaty. This is expected by the end of 2003.
Why do the candidates want to join the EU?
The candidate countries know better than anyone else why they want to join the EU. The British government also believes that the evidence speaks for itself. Already, the candidates have stable democracies and a growing respect for human rights. Their economies are growing fast, attracting high and rising levels of foreign direct investment and the majority of their trade is with the EU. Independent research suggests that accession could add 1.5% to the candidates’ economic growth rates each year.
Can new members attend EU meetings?
New members have been able to attend EU meetings as 'active observers' since the signature of the Accession Treaty on 16 April. This means that they can participate in discussion and debate. They will not be able to vote until they join the EU on 1 May 2004.
Other Government Departments
Europe and World Trade
The UK government has also produced a number of leaflets and brochures on EU enlargement, including:
Britain: A Champion of EU Enlargement
(a Foreign and Commonwealth Office brochure)
EU Enlargement Update
(a quarterly Foreign and Commonwealth Office leaflet on developments in the enlargement process)
Enlargement and the Single Market: Opportunities for Business
(a Department of Trade and Industry brochure outlining the opportunities available to UK business from an enlarged single market).
If you would like copies of any of the above, please contact:
Enlargement and Wider Europe Team
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
Email: Martyn Cushing