'This is an extraordinary moment in Europe's history. There are decisions of enormous importance that we have taken which expand and extend the boundaries of Europe, make Europe into a different institution, make it into indeed a different union altogether for the future, and when we look back at the history of Europe over many hundreds of years, and in particular the history of the 20th century, and we reflect on all the war, and devastation, and disaster, and conflict, and then we realise that today we are reuniting Europe, I think it is truly a moment that we can be very proud of and offers us huge hope for the future".
- Prime Minister Tony Blair, Copenhagen, December 2002
The New Member States
The new Member States are: Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. After a decade of tough reforms and detailed negotiations, the Copenhagen European Council of December 2002 agreed that these countries could join the EU on 1 May 2004. The Accession Treaty, signed in Athens on 16 April 2003, and will be subject to ratification by all existing and new Member States. At the European Council of December 2003, Bulgaria and Romania were given a target date of January 2007 for joining the EU.
Why Enlarge the EU?
An enlarged European Union will boost European stability, security, trade, jobs and prosperity (independent research estimates are that enlargement will add £1.75bn to UK GDP and create over 300,000 jobs across the EU). Since 1990, UK trade with the ten new Member States has increased by over 400% compared with a 43% increase in our trade with the rest of the world.
Copenhagen European Council
The deal done in Copenhagen was a historic achievement, uniting the continent after decades of division. As well as welcoming 10 new members to join on 1 May 2004, the European Council agreed on the shared objective of welcoming Bulgaria and Romania as members of the EU in 2007, depending on further progress in complying with the membership criteria. The UK believes that 2007 is an achievable target date for their accession. As for Turkey, the EU agreed to open accession negotiations “without delay”, if the European Council in December 2004, on the basis of a report and recommendation from the Commission, decides that Turkey fulfils the Copenhagen political criteria.
UK Champion of Enlargement
The UK has always been a strong supporter of enlargement and has played a leading role in moving the process forward. The enlargement accession negotiations began under the UK's Presidency of the EU in 1998. In a speech in Warsaw in October 2000 the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was the first EU leader to call for new Member States to participate in the 2004 European Parliament elections. The Copenhagen European Council in December 2002 will go down in history as the watershed moment, when the political negotiation with the 10 candidate countries concluded, and the unification of Europe turned from ambitious vision into imminent reality.
Further information from the European Commission:
The Treaty of Accession (2003)
Full text of:
Read the Explanatory Memorandum on the Accession Treaty
European Union (Accessions) Bill
|European Union (Accessions) Bill (PDF, 72KB)|
|Regulatory Impact Assessment - European Union (Accessions) Bill (DOC, 43KB)|
|Explanatory Notes - European Union (Accessions) Bill (DOC, 56KB)|