The territories of the member states of the European Union (European Communities pre-1993), animated in order of accession. Territories outside Europe and its immediate surroundings are not shown.
The European Union
(EU) has expanded a number of times throughout its history by way of the accession of new member states
to the Union. To join the EU, a state needs to fulfil economic and political conditions called the Copenhagen criteria
(after the Copenhagen
summit in June 1993), which require a stable democratic government that respects the rule of law, and its corresponding freedoms and institutions. According to the Maastricht Treaty
, each current member state and the European Parliament
must agree to any enlargement. The process of enlargement is sometimes referred to as European integration
. This term is also used to refer to the intensification of co-operation between EU member states as national governments allow for the gradual harmonisation of national laws.
The EU's predecessor, the European Economic Community
, was founded with the Inner Six
member states in 1958, when the Treaty of Rome
came into force. Since then, the EU's membership has grown to twenty-eight, with the latest member state being Croatia
, which joined in July 2013. The most recent territorial enlargement of the EU
was the incorporation of Mayotte
in 2014. The most notable territorial reductions of the EU
, and its predecessors, were the exit of Algeria
upon independence in 1962 and the exit of Greenland
in 1985. Read more...