2004 enlargement of the European Union

  EU members in 2004
  New EU members admitted in 2004

The 2004 enlargement of the European Union was the largest single expansion of the European Union (EU), in terms of territory, number of states, and population to date; however, it was not the largest in terms of gross domestic product. It occurred on 1 May 2004.

The simultaneous accessions concerned the following countries (sometimes referred to as the "A10" countries[1][2]): Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Seven of these were part of the former Eastern Bloc (of which three were from the former Soviet Union and four were and still are members of the Central European alliance Visegrád Group), one of the former Yugoslavia (together sometimes referred to as the "A8" countries), and the remaining two were Mediterranean islands and former British colonies.

Part of the same wave of enlargement was the accession of Bulgaria and Romania in 2007, who were unable to join in 2004, but, according to the Commission, constitute part of the fifth enlargement.


Referendum results
77.3 / 100
66.8 / 100
83.8 / 100
67.5 / 100
91.1 / 100
53.6 / 100
77.6 / 100
93.7 / 100
89.6 / 100


With the end of the Second World War in 1945, Europe found itself divided between a capitalist Western Bloc and a communist Eastern Bloc, as well as Third World neutral countries. The European Economic Community (EEC) was created in 1957 between six countries within the Western Bloc and later expanded to twelve countries across Europe. European communist countries had a looser economic grouping with the USSR known as Comecon. To the south there was a non-aligned communist federated country – Yugoslavia.

In 1989, the Cold War between the two superpowers was coming to an end, with the USSR's influence over communist Europe collapsing. As the communist states began their transition to free market democracies, aligning to Euro-Atlantic integration, the question of enlargement into the continent was thrust onto the EEC's agenda.


The Phare strategy was launched soon after to adapt more the structure of the Central and Eastern European countries (Pays d'Europe Centrale et Orientale (PECO)) to the European Economic Community. One of the major tools of this strategy was the Regional Quality Assurance Program (Programme Régional d'Assurance Qualité (PRAQ)) which started in 1993 to help the PECO States implement the New Approach in their economy.[3]

The Acquis Communautaire contained 3,000 directives and some 100,000 pages in the Official Journal of the European Union to be transposed. It demanded a lot of administrative work and immense economic change, and raised major cultural problems – e.g. new legal concepts and language consistency problems.

Copenhagen criteria Nuclear plants.[4][clarify]

Celebration in the Parc du Cinquantenaire in Brussels


Celebrations at Fort Saint Angelo commemorating Malta's entry into the EU

Malta held a non-binding referendum on 8 March 2003; the narrow Yes-vote prompted a snap election on 12 April 2003 fought on the same question and after which the pro-EU Nationalist Party retained its majority and declared a mandate for accession.

The Treaty of Accession 2003 was signed on 16 April 2003, at the Stoa of Attalus in Athens, Greece, between the then-EU members and the ten acceding countries. The text also amended the main EU treaties, including the Qualified Majority Voting of the Council of the European Union. The treaty was ratified on time and entered into force on 1 May 2004 amid ceremonies around Europe.

European leaders met in Dublin for fireworks and a flag-raising ceremony at Áras an Uachtaráin, the Irish presidential residence. At the same time, citizens across Ireland enjoyed a nationwide celebration styled as the Day of Welcomes. President Romano Prodi took part in celebrations on the Italian-Slovenian border at the divided town of Gorizia/Nova Gorica, at the German-Polish border, the EU flag was raised and Ode to Joy was sung and there was a laser show in Malta among the various other celebrations.[5]

Limerick, Ireland's third largest City, hosted Slovenia as one of ten Cities and Towns to individually welcome the ten accession countries. The then Slovenian Prime Minister Anton Rop was Guest Speaker at a business luncheon hosted by Limerick Chamber.


Czech Republic Slovakia
EU Association Agreement 1 negotiations start 1990 1990
EU Association Agreement signature 4 October 1993 4 October 1993
EU Association Agreement entry into force 1 February 1995 1 February 1995
Membership application submitted 17 January 1996 27 June 1995
Council asks Commission for opinion 29 June 1996 17 July 1995
Commission presents legislative questionnaire to applicant Mar 1996 Mar 1996
Applicant responds to questionnaire Jun 1997 Jun 1997
Commission prepares its opinion (and subsequent reports) 15 July 1997 1997, 1998, 1999
Commission recommends granting of candidate status 15 July 1997 15 July 1997
European Council grants candidate status to Applicant[6] 12 December 1997 12 December 1997
Commission recommends starting of negotiations 15 July 1997 13 October 1999
European Council sets negotiations start date 12 December 1997[7] 10 December 1999
Membership negotiations start 31 March 1998 15 February 2000
Membership negotiations end 13 December 2002 13 December 2002
Accession Treaty signature 16 April 2003 16 April 2003
EU joining date 1 May 2004 1 May 2004
Acquis chapter
1. Free Movement of Goods x x
2. Freedom of Movement for Workers x x
3. Right of Establishment & Freedom to provide Services x x
4. Free Movement of Capital x x
5. Public Procurement x x
6. Company Law x x
7. Intellectual Property Law x x
8. Competition Policy x x
9. Financial Services x x
10. Information Society & Media x x
11. Agriculture & Rural Development x x
12. Food safety, Veterinary & Phytosanitary Policy x x
13. Fisheries x x
14. Transport Policy x x
15. Energy x x
16. Taxation x x
17. Economic & Monetary Policy x x
18. Statistics x x
19. Social Policy & Employment x x
20. Enterprise & Industrial Policy x x
21. Trans-European Networks x x
22. Regional Policy & Coordination of Structural Instruments x x
23. Judiciary & Fundamental Rights x x
24. Justice, Freedom & Security x x
25. Science & Research x x
26. Education & Culture x x
27. Environment x x
28. Consumer & Health Protection x x
29. Customs Union x x
30. External Relations x x
31. Foreign, Security & Defence Policy x x
32. Financial Control x x
33. Financial & Budgetary Provisions x x
34. Institutions x x
35. Other Issues x x

1 EU Association Agreement type: Europe Agreement for the states of the Fifth Enlargement.

Situation of policy area at the start of membership negotiations according to the 1997 Opinions and 1999 Reports.

s – screening of the chapter
fs – finished screening
f – frozen chapter
o – open chapter
x – closed chapter

  generally already applies the acquis
  no major difficulties expected
  further efforts needed
  non-acquis chapter – nothing to adopt
  considerable efforts needed
  very hard to adopt
  situation totally incompatible with EU acquis