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What countries have applied for membership of the EU?

The EU now consists of 27 Member States. In October 2005 the EU opened accession negotiations with  Turkey and Croatia, while Macedonia  (FYROM) was approved a candidate country.

Turkey applied for EU membership 14 April 1987 and was recognised as candidate country in 1999 at the European Council in Helsinki. Accession negotiations were however not opened as it was the opinion of the Commission and the Council that Turkey did not satisfy the political Copenhagen criteria.

Three years later in 2002 at the European Council in Copenhagen the heads of state and government  decided to give Turkey "a date for a date". In other words it was decided that the European Council in december 2004 should decide whether Turkey satisfied the Copenhagen criteria in order for accession negotiations to be opened.

In december 2004 the European Council decided that EU would open accession negotiations on 3 October 2005. The decision was among other things based on a report from the Commssion. The report was published on 6 October 2004.

Croatia send its application for EU membership in 2003. At the European Council in June 2004 Croatia was approved as a candidate country. Accession negotiations were however not opened. 6 months later at the European Council in December 2004 it was decided that EU should open accession negotiations with Croatia on 17 March 2005, but only if Croatia fully cooperated with the UN International War Ccrimes Tribunal in Haag. At a Council meeting on 16 March 2005 the EU ministers of foreign affairs however concluded that this was not the case and the accession negotiations were postponed.

At a Council meeting on 3 October 2005 the Council concluded  that Croatia satisfied the conditions for accession negotiations to be opened. This happened following a conclusion from ICTYs chiefcounsel Carla del Ponte that Croatia was now fully cooperating with the tribunal in Haag. Accession negotiations were thus opened on 3 October 2005.

Macedonia applied for EU membership on 22 March 2004. At the European Council meeting on 15-16 December 2005 it was decided to recognise Macedonia as a candidate country. A date for the opening of accession negotiations has not yet been decided.

In the declaration of the summit between the EU and the Western Balkans at Thessaloniki on 21 June 2003, the so-called Thessaloniki Agenda is taken as a common agenda for the EU and the countries in the Western Balkans. The Thessaloniki Agenda makes it clear that the future of the Western Balkans lies in the EU. The Western Balkans include – in addition to Croatia and Macedonia (FYROM)  – Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro .

From the Thessaloniki Agenda

 ‘The Western Balkans and support to their preparation for future integration into European structures and ultimate membership into the Union is a high priority for the EU. The Balkans will be an integral part of a unified Europe. The ongoing enlargement and the signature of the Treaty of Athens in April 2003 should inspire and encourage the countries of the Western Balkans to follow the same successful road of reforms and to increase their efforts in that direction.

The EU stresses that the pace of further movement of the Western Balkan countries towards the EU lies in their own hands and will depend on each country’s performance in implementing reforms, thus respecting the criteria set by the Copenhagen European Council of 1993 and the SAP conditionality. In this context, the EU also recalls the content of the Zagreb Summit Final Declaration of November 2000.The principles of “own merits” and “catch up” will be applied, in parallel with the regional approach, which remains an essential element of EU policy towards the region.


Applications for membership

Application for membershipAccession negotations opened
14 April 1987

Yes (opened 3 October 2005

Croatia21 Februar 2003Yes (opened 3 October 2005)
Macedonia (FYROM)22. March 2004No

Sidst opdateret: 30-07-2008  - ANSJ