Enlargement is one of the most established policies of the EU. There have been 5 successful waves of enlargement: 1973 (Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom); 1981 (Greece); (1986) Spain and Portugal); 1995 (Austria, Finland and Sweden); 2004 (Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) and 2007 (Bulgaria and Romania).
The legal basis of the enlargement policy of the EU is Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union, which stipulates that any European State which respects the EU values referred to in Article 2 of the Treaty and is committed to promoting them may apply to become a member of the Union.
The renewed consensus on enlargement agreed by the December 2006 European Council continues to guide the EU's enlargement policy. It is based on consolidation of commitments, fair and rigorous conditionality and better communication, together with the capacity to integrate new members. On 11 December 2012 the Council adopted conclusions on the EU's enlargement policy and on the stabilisation and association process for the Western Balkans, in which the Council reaffirmed the strong support of the EU for taking the enlargement process forward on the basis of the agreed principles and conclusions.
The current wave of enlargement includes: Turkey (a negotiating country since October 2005), Croatia (with which accession negotiations were concluded on 30 June 2011 and the Accession Treaty signed on 9 December 2011), Iceland (negotiating country since July 2010) and Montenegro (since June 2012).
Regarding other countries, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has been a candidate country since December 2005, and Serbia since March 2012. The EU has also received an application from Albania.
The European Council of Thessaloniki on 19/20 June 2003 reiterated its determination to fully and effectively support the European perspective of the Western Balkan countries, which will become an integral part of the EU, once they meet the established criteria.
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