(2) Historical Concepts of EU



Is the term used to describe the annually calculated ‘rebate’, which the United Kingdom receives from the European Communities budget following an agreement reached in 1984 at the Fontainebleau Summit of the European Council.

In recent years, the United Kingdom has come under pressure to accept a reduction in the ‘rebate’, as the European Union seeks to meet the challenges of financing enlargement and there is a growing demand from other Member States, most notably France, for an end to the United Kingdom’s rebate when the next multi-annual financial package is agreed in 2006.

Accession Criteria

Is often referred to as the Copenhagen criteria, were adopted by the Copenhagen Summit of the European Council in June 1993, when the European Community committed itself to admitting the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).

Accession was, however, to depend on the candidate countries meeting the following criteria: having stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and protection of minorities; possessing a functioning market economy and the capacity to cope with the competitive pressures of the internal market; and having the ability to take on the obligations of membership, including adherence to the aims of the European Union, notably political, economic and monetary union.

In 1995 the Madrid Summit of the European Council added a further criterion: that the countries seeking membership should possess the administrative capacity to implement the “acquis communitarian”.

Accession Negotiations

Is a process need to be completed before applicant countries can join the European Union (EU)? They are conducted on a bilateral basis, with the European Commission coordinating the position of the EU’s Member States. Accession negotiations with Cyprus and five Central and Eastern European countries (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia) often referred to as the ‘Luxembourg group’ were opened in 1998. Two years later, in 2000, the EU opened accession negotiations with the so-called ‘Helsinki group’ (Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania and Slovakia). Negotiations with those applicant countries meeting the accession criteria-the Luxembourg group plus Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Slovakia-were concluded at the Copenhagen Summit of the European Council held on 12-13 December 2002. The Accession Treaty was then signed on 16 April 2003. Following ratification of the Accession Treaty, the 10 countries were expected to join the EU on 1 May 2004 plus 2 January 1, 2007, Bulgaria, and Romania.

Accession Partnerships

Were first concluded with applicant countries from Central and Eastern Europe in 1998 and are designed to assist them in meeting the accession criteria and preparing themselves for membership of the European Union (EU). They list priority areas for legal adaptation and administrative reform in the countries concerned, and for EU financial assistance through the Instrument for Structural Policies for Pre-Accession (ISPA), PHARE and SAPARD programmes.

The Accession Process was launched in 1998 and consists of three elements: accession negotiations, accession partnerships and the European Conference.

An Accession Treaty contains the legal instruments governing the accession of a state to the European Union (EU).

Accession Negotiations have to be ratified by all existing Member States as well as the acceding state or states. Ratification normally involves a referendum in the acceding country. Since the Single European Act, the approval of the European Parliament via the assent procedure has also been necessary.

The most recent accession treaty was signed in Athens, Greece, on 16 April 2003 between the EU’s Member States and 10+2 applicant states, mainly from Central and Eastern Europe: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and Romania. With the exception of Cyprus, each of the applicant states held a referendum during 2003 on whether the country should join the EU. In each case, a majority of those voting voted in favor of membership. Successful ratification of the Accession Treaty in the Member States took place, as planned, on 1 May 2004 and January 1st 2007.






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