Joining the EU
The European Union is a very powerful political and economic structure that as of now encompasses 28 countries. All member states differ in terms of their economic independence, political stability, historical background and religious convictions, however, all find a way to cooperate and work towards ensuring that the internal single market is functioning properly, that people have a right to move freely and that the union has strong standing in the world stage. Having considered this, it is natural that most countries in the region would desire to be a part of the EU and have its advantages at their disposal. However, it is evidently not enough to simply wish to be a member state, there are certain criteria that a country needs to meet in order to be eligible for consideration to become a part of the EU. They include certain political and economic standards as well as compliance with pre-established rules and laws of cooperation within the EU, which were defined in 1993 at the European Council in Copenhagen.
The Economic Criteria
One of the most important factors that must be in place if a country is to join the EU is presence of functioning market economy. In short, all decisions such as investment, distribution and production are governed by supply and demand. The type of economy can vary from free market and laissez-faire, where there is close to no intervention from the government, to highly interventionist forms, where government plays a major role in how the country’s economy functions. Regardless of the chose type, the economy has to function in a way that creates conditions for the country to establish strong economic standing and thus allow it to compete on an international level and function in the face of other market forces in the EU.
The Political Criteria
There are numerous political factors that need to be put in place and established before a country can request membership in the EU. It is fair to say that the most vital one, and the one that ensures the presence of others, is stable democracy. Any country that wishes to even have a shot at becoming a part of the EU must possess institutions that are designed to ensure democratic governing of the country. As such, the country is expected to protect and respect minorities and ensure their integration into the society – an aspect that is of crucial relevance in the face of the refugee crisis. In general, the country must display a capacity to protect its citizens’ human rights and ensure that the country is governed by law as opposed to physical force or decisions of powerful individuals.
The Cooperative Criteria
Any joining country must agree to certain rules, some of which, such as protection of intellectual or physical property and free movement, are a matter of common sense while some prove to be problematic. They include certain political, economic and monetary obligations, which ensure that the EU is functioning according to its aims and that it continuous to be a beneficial structure. They are difficult to list because most of them can be negotiated. For instance, how much a country is going to pay or receive from the EU is decided upon looking at the country’s current economic situation. This aspect, naturally, is problematic when it comes to states of strong economic standing and can be seen as one of the reasons why some countries, such as the Scandinavian region, do not belong to the EU.