Italy and the European Union Enlargement

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Enlargement is the process through which new members join the European Union. Since 1957, when the first 'integrated Europe' was born, the EU went from 6 member states to 28. The six founding countries are: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and The Netherlands; thereafter, a lot of other Western countries joined from 1973 on, and, with the collapse of their regimes in 1989, several ex-communist Central and Eastern Europe countries became members between 2004 and 2007. Finally, in 2013 Croatia became the 28th EU member.

The Maastricht Treaty states that any European country can apply for membership, provided that it observes the EU democratic values and principles and it strives to promote them. More precisely, a country can join the EU only if it meets all the accession criteria: political – democracy, rule of law, human rights - , economic – market economy, free competition - and judicial – respect of EU legislation. The accession process consists of three steps: prospect of accession, official application for membership, official negotiations (internal reform process). Once the negotiations and reforms have successfully and satisfactorily been carried through from both sides, the country can join the EU, prior to common agreement from all existing member states. Presently, the EU has offered a prospect of accession to eight countries: Albania, Turkey, Iceland and all the ex-Yugoslavia countries (except for Slovenia and Croatia, already members); however, only five of them have already acquired the official candidate status: Turkey, Serbia, Macedonia, Iceland and Montenegro.

Among all these countries, the most critical and specific position in the enlargement panorama is the one of Turkey. Turkey be...

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