The EU is expanding - 1 May 2004
1 May 2004 marks an historic moment as Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia join the EU as new Member States sealing a period of enormous change. Just over a decade ago, six of the eight Central European states did not even exist. One of them was at war. These countries have voted to anchor their new and hard-won independence and nationhood in the EU. They rightly see the EU as the best guarantor of their new-found sovereignty.
As the European Union enters a new era, the UK Government wholeheartedly welcomes the ten countries of Central and Southern Europe as new members of the European Union. It is the clearest sign that the division, which for too long has marked our Continent, is finally erased. That can only be a cause of celebration as we shape a new future of further prosperity, stability and security for all member states in Europe.
|"By welcoming nations that less than a decade and a half ago laboured under regimes which mocked democracy, freedom, the rule of law, we are set to become for the first time a genuinely European union and we in Britain can feel proud at our hand in ensuring both that it is happening now, and that it is happening at all."
- Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, December 2003
What is Enlargement?
1 May 2004 marks a historic achievement when ten countries join the existing fifteen Member States of the European Union, uniting the continent after decades of division.
Enlargement of the EU however is not a new concept. From an original EC membership of 6 in 1958, the EU has gradually expanded and as of 1 May 2004 will total 25 Member States.
There have been four enlargements since 1958:
1973 – to include Denmark, Ireland, and the UK.
1981 – to include Greece.
1986 – to include Spain and Portugal.
1995 – to include Austria, Finland and Sweden.
Who are the ten New Member States joining on 1 May 2004?