chapter  38
Pages 8

The European Union was never going to be a closed shop. Article 237 of the Treaty of Rome stated: ‘Any European state may apply to become a member of the Community.’ This general invitation was, however, qualified by the preamble to the treaty which referred to the original members’ resolve to strengthen peace and liberty and called upon ‘the other peoples of Europe who share their ideal to join in their efforts’. This boiled down to the simple formula whereby any country in Europe could join the EU provided it was democratic and had the economic and administrative capacity to handle the rights and obligations of membership. The purpose of entry negotiations was to help the newcomer(s) with the adaptation process and transition to full membership over a set period. Thus from 1973 the six-nation EEC grew nearly five-fold to a 28-member European Union 40 years later.