European Union (EU) started in the early 1950s by an agreement by Germany, France, and four other nations to enable them to pool steel and coal resources with the intention of bringing an end the enmity that had existed among them for several years. The European steel and coal community was established in the year 1952. The Rome treaty created a wider common market which was later signed by the member countries after five years. The first major expansion of the European Union occurred in 1973, while the sixth and the most recent took place in 2007 (Ingham, & Ingham, 2002).
The expansion of the EU is the process through which the European Union is expanded by admitting other states as new members to the union. The expansion of EU started with the six countries that are the founder members of the union. Over the years, the European community has continued to grow and by 2007 it had reached twenty seven countries after being joined by Romania and Bulgaria. Currently, negotiations of the accession of other countries to become members of the European Union are under way.
The expansion of EU allows cooperation intensification of the member countries which would then give way to the harmonization of the national laws in a gradual manner. For any nation to be allowed to become a member of the EU, it is required to fulfill the political and economic conditions commonly referred to as the Copenhagen criteria. Generally they require any nation intending to join the EU community, to be governed by a legitimate democratic government, the rule of law must be fully respected in such a nation, together with the corresponding democratic institutions and freedoms of its citizens (Ingham, & Ingham, 2002).
Criteria and process of joining the European Union Currently for a country to be allowed to join EU, the process of accession has to be followed. This process is comprised of a series of several prescribed steps. These steps are basically observed by the commission of the union. However, all the negotiations are usually conducted by the member states to the union and the nation that is intending to become part of the union (Bruinsma, Hakfoort, & Wever, 2005).
In theory, any country in the world can apply to the EU in order to join it, but practically this is not possible since the criteria that are set for joining the union automatically bars some countries from joining it. Once a country applies to become a member to the union the council of the union then consults the European parliament and the commission of the EU so as to initiate the accession negotiations. The council of the EU can either reject or accept such a recommendation in unison. For a nation to receive a recommendation that is positive it must meet the following criteria.
The nation must be from Europe, the country must respect all the principles of democracy, liberty, respect the rule of law and all the fundamental human rights and freedoms (Bruinsma, Hakfoort, & Wever, 2005). Moreover, for a country to join the European Union it must meet all the Copenhagen criteria that were set by the council back in the year 1993. The Copenhagen criteria demands that a country wishing to join the EU community must have stable institutions that guarantee democracy, human rights, rule of law and protect and respect the minorities.
The countries must also have in place a functional market economy which should be accompanied by capacity to deal with the pressures of competition and forces of the market within the European Union. In addition, for a country to be allowed to join the European Union the Copenhagen criteria requires that such a country must have the ability of taking on all the membership obligations of the union which includes devotion to the objectives of economic, monetary union and political (Bruinsma, Hakfoort, & Wever, 2005).
In the mid 1990s the European council met in Madrid City and revised the criteria of membership was revised to incorporate the conditions for the member nation’s accession via appropriate modification of its structures for administration. Due to the fact that it is crucial for the legislation of the EU community to be represented in the legislation of the national assembly, it became important for the national legislation which was revised to be effectively implemented via the appropriate judicial and administrative structures (Ingham, & Ingham, 2002).
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