The prospect of EU membership provides a strong incentive for democratic transformation, structural reforms and regional co-operation. Since its inception in 1957, the EU has had five enlargement rounds, the last being in 2007 when Bulgaria and Rumania joined as full members. Croatia completed its accession negotiations in June 2011 and will formally accede to the EU on 1 July 2013.

Historically, the process of enlargement is considered as one of the most successful policies of the EU, leading to substantial political and economic gains for both existing as well as the new member-states and helping create a common future in peace, freedom, stability and prosperity.

  • The Treaty on European Union states as conditions “…the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law, principles which are common to the Member States…” (Article 6) while also specifying that “…any European State which respects the principles set out in Article 6 (1) may apply to become a member of the Union. It shall address its application to the Council, which shall act unanimously after consulting the Commission and after receiving the assent of the European Parliament, which shall act by an absolute majority of its component members…” (Article 49).

    Additionally, according to the "Copenhagen criteria", agreed by the European Council in December 1993, a candidate country must have:

    • Stable institutions that guarantee democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities;
    • A functioning market economy, as well as the ability to cope with the pressure of competition and the market forces at work inside the Union;
    • The ability to assume the obligations of membership, in particular adherence to the objectives of political, economic and monetary union.
  • During its Presidency, Cyprus will maintain the enlargement portfolio of the EU high on the agenda, aiming for tangible progress with all candidate countries and in particular those involved in accession negotiations. Turkey’s accession negotiations process was initiated in October 2005 while Iceland’s in July 2010.

    Furthermore, the Cyprus Presidency intends to contribute to the decisive advancement of Montenegro’s accession negotiations while at the same time seeking to build on the momentum created by the European Council’s decision in March 2012 to grant candidate status to Serbia.

    At the same time, and in line with the renewed EU consensus on enlargement, the further advancement of the European perspective overall of the Western Balkans is an issue of paramount importance. As such, the Cyprus Presidency will be ready to promote this perspective of any other Western Balkan country, depending on relevant developments.

    For detailed information on the enlargement of the EU, you may follow this link: