Enlargement of the European Union: are the candidate countries ready for 2030?

Twenty years ago, the European Union (EU), which then had fifteen member states, underwent its greatest enlargement, simultaneously integrating ten new countries: Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia , Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Cyprus and Malta. This movement, called the “big bang”, was not significant only because of the number of new countries admitted. It was all the more important as eight of the countries which joined the Union were fifteen years previously on the other side of the Iron Curtain, in the communist bloc.

The President of the European Commission at the time, Romano Prodi, spoke then, rightly, of the reunification of Eastern and Western Europe, and of the return of European nations to the family to which they belonged and from which they had been separated against their will. On May 1, 2004, images of jubilation in the streets, from Tallinn to Nicosia and from Warsaw to Valletta, went around the world. As Romano Prodi later recalled, “we had the feeling that our generation of politicians had the historic honor of realizing the dream of the reunification of Europe, of a Europe of hope and pride”.

No more massive membership since 2004

Twenty years later, the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyenrecalled another important message

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