Copenhagen criteria

(Photo: Notat)

The EU Summit in Copenhagen in June 1993 decided to open EU membership to the Central and East European countries.

The then established criteria are those to be followed by all countries applying for membership of the EU. The conditions are:

- stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities;

the existence of a functioning market economy as well as the capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union;

- the ability to take on the obligations of membership including adherence to the aims of political, economic & monetary union.

After initial transitional periods, countries must undertake all the obligations of the EU. At the Copenhagen Summit in December 2002, it was agreed to initiate negotiations on EU membership with ten applicant countries. The agreement was solemnly signed in Athens, 16 April 2003. The new members joined the EU on 1 May 2004.  


- Bulgaria and Romania became EU members on 1 January 2007.

- Turkey got pre-acession money from 1 January 2004, despite its non-fulfilment to date of the Copenhagen criteria for EU membership. 

- Enlargement is regulated by Art. 49 TEU.



EU site on membership criteria and accession preparations 

European Council in Copenhagen 21-22 June 1993