Enlargement of the European Union

Enlargement of the European Union

Six waves of the enlargement:

  1. First wave – Ireland, Denmark and United Kingdom in 1973.
  2. Second wave – Greece joined in 1981.
  3. Third wave – Spain and Portugal in 1986.
  4. Fourth wave – Finland, Sweden and Austria joined the EU in 1995.
  5. Fifth wave – Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Malta and Cyprus became members of the EU in 2004. In 2007 Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU.
  6. Sixth wave Croatia became 28th member of the EU in 2013. 

Currently accession negotiation process has started with Turkey, Montenegro and Serbia. Government of Iceland has declared that it has put the negotiations on hold. Countries of Western Balkans region North Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo participate in Stabilisation and association process, which was established by the EU with the aim of eventual EU membership, Participant countries are implementing reforms and fulfilling requirements set out by the EU institutions.

EU membership negotiations

Article 49 of the Treaty on the European Union states that, any European State which respects the values of the EU and is committed to promoting them may apply to become a member of the Union. Membership negotiations cannot start until all EU governments agree, in the form of a unanimous decision by the EU Council, on a framework or mandate for negotiations with the candidate country.

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Lithuania’s position on EU enlargement

Lithuania strongly supports further EU “open door” policy and is willing to avoid the creation of artificial borders in Europe. We have to respect the commitments we have made to the countries seeking EU membership. Assessment of these countries must be objective, fair and based on each state’s progress in complying with Copenhagen criteria.

The EU enlargement policy and European Perspective for the countries seeking EU membership is one of the most important instruments to promote democratic values, respect for human rights and freedoms, supremacy of the rule of law, as well as security and stability in the region.

An important aspect of the EU Enlargement Policy – the European Union‘s institutional, political and financial capacity to integrate new Members States.

Enlargement strategy and annual Council conclusions

Each autumn European Commission presents an “Enlargement Package” containing strategy paper and individual country reports. General Affairs Council in December adopts Council Conclusions on Enlargement and Stabilisation and Association process.

EU and Turkey


The EU and Turkey formed a Customs Union.


Turkey was granted the EU candidate country status.


EU membership negotiations with Turkey were opened. Currently 15 negotiating chapters are opened, one of them provisionaly closed.

2015 Turkey Report

EU and Montenegro


Montenegro received the status of candidate country


Montenegro started EU accession negotiations. Currently 22 negotiating chapters are opened, and two of them provisionaly closed.

2015 Montenegro Report

EU and Serbia


Serbia received the status of candidate country


Serbia started EU accession negotiations. Currently two chapters are opened.

2015 Serbia Report

EU and other Western Balkan countries

The Stabilisation and Association Process, which began in 1999, provided the Western Balkan countries with the opportunity to move towards EU membership and in 2003 at the meeting of the European Council in Thessaloniki EU reiterated its unequivocal support to the European perspective of the Western Balkans countries. After the EU enlargement of 2004 and 2007 and especially after Croatia’s accession to the EU, the European Union and the South-East European countries became even closer to one another. The prospects of EU membership have become the main engine for complex domestic reforms and regional cooperation.

Republic of North Macedonia

Candidate country since  2005 m. Until now date to start accession negotiations has not been set. In 2014 m. European Commition gave the recomendation to start accession negotiations for the sixth year in a row (starting from 2009).

2015 Republic of North Macedonia Report


2009 submitted its formal application for EU membership

2014 m. received the status of candidate country.

2015 Albania Report

Bosnia and Herzegovina

2008 Stabilisation and Asociation agreement signed

2015 Progress Report on Bosnia and Herzegovina


2015 Stabilisation and Asociation agreement signed

2015 Progress Report on Kosovo*