Introduction to European Union law
Introduction to European Union law

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Introduction to European Union law

6.1 Joining the EU

The EU still looks set to expand. Some Soviet bloc countries believed that by joining the EU they were helping to consolidate the rise of democracy following the collapse of the Iron Curtain. Other former Soviet bloc countries, such as Ukraine, see membership of the EU, or at least close association with it, as a bulwark against emerging Russian expansionism. There are negotiations going on with the Balkan countries following the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the civil wars of the 1990s. The immigration crisis is revitalising negotiations with Turkey whose relationship with the EU is shifting constantly.

Activity 7 Growth of the EU 1957–2016

Timing: You should allow yourself 10 minutes to do this activity.

Use your knowledge of EU history to match each country with its date of accession or relevant statement.

Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.

  1. Accession: 1973

  2. Original member state

  3. Accession: 1995

  4. Accession: 2004

  5. Voted not to join

  6. Candidate country

  • a.Norway

  • b.Hungary

  • c.Sweden

  • d.Denmark

  • e.The Netherlands

  • f.Serbia

The correct answers are:
  • 1 = d
  • 2 = e
  • 3 = c
  • 4 = b
  • 5 = a
  • 6 = f


Norway has twice signed an Accession Treaty with a view to joining, first in 1973 and then in 1995. However, on both occasions the Norwegian people voted against joining in a referendum. Norway is a member of the EEA and so takes part in the single market.

Croatia, the most recent EU member state, joined on 1 July 2013.

Figure 8 Countries of the EU

Candidate countries are those that are currently in accession negotiations with the EU. Potential candidate countries are those which have applied but are still working towards satisfying the accession conditions. Once the conditions have been satisfied, accession negotiations may be opened, at which point they will become candidate countries.

Activity 8 Accession terms

Timing: You should allow yourself 5 minutes to do this activity.

Using the EU website [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , summarise what the following statement means:

  • An acceding state must adopt the acquis communautaire.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


Put simply, it means that once an applicant country meets the conditions for membership, it must implement EU rules and Regulations in all areas.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371