European Union Enlargements
European Union enlargement is also controversial at the ideological level: some say the continued expansion of the union dilutes the founding vision and the less explicit principles it rests on.
The latest rounds of enlargement brought a large number of states into the European Union that have dramatically different political histories and cultures from the rest of the union. Eight of the accession countries are former members of the communist Soviet bloc which means they have only been democratic states for less than 20 years. During the ten years leading up to accession considerable "twinning" work took place in order to build institutions in the eastern European applicants.
Early on there was a tendency to regard these new members as in some way junior to the existing members. Negotiations almost broke down over the financial terms of accession: the European Union, led by France, proposed that incoming member states should not be given access to the same level of subsidies under the common agricultural policy. Poland, the largest new member state and whose economy is heavily agrarian, objected, threatening to derail the process, until the European Union compromised in October 2002.
Now the European Commission has announced that Croatia will join the European Union on July 1 this year. The country has implemented a string of reforms requested by Brussels.
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