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Blogger mail presents tonight this selection of 26 videos showing the future timeline of European Union with Turkey knocking at the door of Berlin to open the gates between Europa and Middle East.
Steinmeier urges UK to stay in EU, voices doubt on treaty change
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, back in his old post as foreign minister following four years in opposition, had met his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu in Berlin earlier on Monday, calling on the EU to consider reopening the stalled accession process with the government in Ankara. Cameron's Conservatives are among the more vocal European advocates of Turkish admission into the bloc.
- Read more on dw.de
The European Union has been expanded
By this date, the countries of Iceland, Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania and Serbia have all joined the ranks of the EU member nations.** This follows several years of negotiations in order to bring these countries in line with the rest of the Union, in terms of economics and law.
The process a country must undergo in order to join the European Union may take several years, often involving a long series of debates over the economic and political costs versus benefits. In order to become a recommended candidate, a country must be located in Europe and must be a stable, humane and democratic nation. According to the Copenhagen Criteria, a candidate must have a democratic government with respect for human rights and minorities, a functioning and secure market economy, as well as the ability to take on the obligations of membership concerning political, monetary and economic union.
Iceland was among the first to enter the Union. Prior to the 2008 economic crisis, public support for joining was low, with many viewing it as unnecessary. At the time, Iceland was only a member of the European Economic Area. Following the global economic downturn of 2008, the Icelandic economy crashed, with three of the country's largest banks failing and unemployment rates and debt levels spiking.* Because of its well-established democracy and market economy, Iceland was made a priority in regards to the next EU expansion.* Although some issues persisted – such as whale hunting, fishing and agriculture* – it was eventually welcomed into the EU.
Around the same time, Macedonia succeeded in joining too. This came only after tensions with its neighbour Greece were finally resolved. Greece had blocked Macedonia's accession for some time, over an issue concerning the country's title.* The country had also been criticised for its treatment of the Albanian minority, something it was required to immediately reform. As with most new members, negotiations over economic issues were also required upon Macedonia's adoption of the euro.
Croatia was another early addition to the Union, entering in mid-2013.* It became the second ex-Yugoslav country to join after Slovenia. Croatia was also made a priority, with heavy support coming from its neighbour Hungary. Before its accession, Croatia was required to settle its ongoing border dispute with Slovenia, which had for ten months blocked the country's EU negotiation. There were also several issues regarding cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia over prosecuting crimes against humanity.
Crackdowns on government corruption had to be carried out too. Regarding the global financial crisis, Croatia had fared relatively well, though large portions of its economy were still under direct control of the government, something which had to change in order to meet the EU's stringent requirements. By 2017, it is also dealing with a high level of international debt, showing that Croatia was just slower to be affected by the crisis. Complex negotiations were required once the euro was introduced as the country's currency.
In a similar situation was Bosnia and Herzegovina, also located in the Balkan Peninsula. The country joined in 2015,* shortly after joining NATO.* One of its largest concerns was the ongoing ethnic quarrels that were remnants of the Bosnian War. In fact, the EU had maintained a peacekeeping force in the country for over a decade. For some time, the nation had also received stabilising loans from the EU.
Corruption and organised crime were major problems too. Before joining the EU, Bosnia was forced to make drastic changes to its domestic and political policies. By 2017, however, the country has made significant strides towards becoming a fully developed country. Although it still faces challenges, these are more easily handled now through the advantages of EU membership.
The same year that Bosnia and Herzegovina joined, both Albania and Montenegro entered the European Union and the eurozone. Albania was, like Bosnia, plagued by organised crime and corruption.* Alongside this, it was home to significant ethnic discrimination – a symptom of residual tension left over from past racial and religious conflicts. With regards to its economy, Albania had to overcome the remnants of communism and establish a truly free market system in order to comply with the EU's standards. This meant going through a period of reforms to the government, justice system and media in the early 2010s, inhibiting ethnic bias and political disorder.
Montenegro was in a similar position, itself being a haven for trafficking and money laundering. It had only recently moved to a market economy, having become independent in 2006. Before its accession, it was required to increase protection of freedom of expression, strengthen diplomatic relations with Serbia and comply with other membership criteria. The country made good progress, however,* and was later admitted. An important milestone on its path to EU membership was reached towards the end of 2009, when its citizens were granted the right to visa-free travel within the Schengen zone.
The last country to join at this time was Serbia. For a prolonged period, Serbia's progress towards membership had remained sluggish, made worse by the long history of ethnic conflict between it and certain other EU candidates. Many members were wary of letting Serbia join and applied strict conditions for it to do so – including justice over the atrocities committed by certain Serbs in the Bosnian War. Despite this, appeals to the West eventually pushed Serbia's application forward.* A number of barriers were removed during the accession process.* Of the many problems facing Serbia, unemployment and a high trade deficit were the most pressing. A series of financial reforms, many of which would continue through 2017, were begun. Serbia was also forced to compromise on the issue of Kosovo's independence, which had also begun to apply for EU membership.
Although a long-time candidate, Turkey is still a few years away from gaining full EU membership. Despite bringing a huge population and strong economy to the table, lack of compliance with EU laws and a conflict over Cyprus have slowed its progress considerably.
These seven countries are some of the last new members to enter into the EU. Recent economic turmoil has made the Union increasingly cautious in allowing new economies to join. As of 2017, it has a total of 34 member states and a population of more than half a billion. It remains a leading world power for now – but with ongoing economic issues that have yet to be resolved.
- Read more on futuretimeline.net