While the United Kingdom has taken an exit from the European Union, there are several countries that want to be a part of the EU. Turkey, the country straddling both the continents of Europe and Asia, has also applied to attain membership.
The political and economic union of 27 countries located in Europe, the EU has been described as an emerging superpower. It has quite a strong influence on international matters. In 2012, the European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
The members that initiated the formation of the European Union were Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Luxembourg, and West Germany (now Germany). The Union continued to grow as new member states gradually joined. Until now, no member country had left the EU. However, triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the United Kingdom became the first country to withdraw from the EU. On January 31, 2020, the UK officially left the EU.
Joining the European Union
On the other hand, there are countries that have applied to be a part of the European Union. There are certain rules and regulations that must be followed before a state can apply. These conditions are called the ‘Copenhagen criteria,’ which includes:
- A free-market economy, and the ability to cope with the competition,
- A stable democracy and the rule of law,
- Protection of minorities and human rights,
- Acceptance of all EU legislation, including aims of political, economic, and monetary union.
When a country submits a membership application to the Council, wishing to be a part of the EU, the Commission is asked to assess the ability of the country to meet the Copenhagen criteria. If the opinion remains positive, the Council needs to negotiate with the country and provide the mandatory entry of the applicant into the European Union.
The negotiations take quite some time to complete, owing to a large number of conditions and regulations. However, financial, administration, and technical support is provided to the countries during this accession period.
Well-recognized as the “official candidates,” the countries which are in the process of being members of the EU are:
Applied for membership in 2009 and became a candidate in 2014. Its accession will depend on its achievements regarding the fight against corruption and organized crime.
Applied for membership in 2008 and became a candidate in 2010. It has adopted the Euro as its currency but isn’t yet a part of the Eurozone.
Applied for being a member in 2009 and was granted the status of a candidate in 2012. The negotiations shall soon begin in the near future.
4. North Macedonia
A candidate since 2005, but due to its disputes with Greece and Bulgaria, the negotiations are hampered.
Made an application to join the EU in 1987 and was an official candidate by 1999. The negotiations are, however, still on-going, especially regarding water, waste, nature protection, and horizontal legislation.
Referred to as “Potential candidate,” the following countries haven’t yet received the status of “official candidate” but are on track to be a member of the EU in the coming years:
1. Bosnia and Herzegovina
The country submitted its application in February 2016.
The country declared independence on February 17, 2008, and the EU itself took note of the declaration. The Stabilization and Association Agreement between EU and Kosovo entered into force in April 2016.
In the year 2019, the nominal GDP of the EU was $18.292 trillion, which is about 22% of the global economy. After the exit of the UK from the Union, the EU might still remain strong political affluence in the world, especially after its enlargement in the near future.