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Redefining Europe
 Introduction
The European Union has grown from six to 15 countries, and is now preparing for its fifth expansion. It began membership negotiations with six countries in 1998 (wave one), and another six in 2000 (wave two), but has yet to set formal dates for accession. Turkey has also been accepted as an applicant, but no date has been set for the start of negotiations.

Click on the map to find out whether the accession countries are on track to join the EU.

 Poland: Wave One
Poland is the largest applicant, with a fast-growing economy. It wants EU membership by 2003 - but 2005 is more likely. The recent Commission reports on its progress were favourable but Poland still faces difficult reforms such as agriculture, labour movement, the environment and the policing of Poland's eastern border. Poland is worried that EU membership will complicate relations with "excluded" neighbours like Ukraine. Support for EU membership has waned recently.
 Poland: Wave One
Poland is the most important economy in Eastern Europe, but the size of its inefficient agricultural sector poses a problem - the EU is unlikely to agree to big subsidy payments. The pace of liberalisation has slowed down recently amid political disagreements, as has support for EU membership. Poland has large foreign debts, and will have to borrow more to meet its growing trade gap.
 Poland: Wave One
Population (millions)
38.7

GDP ($bn)
172.2

GDP per head ($ thousand)
7,210

Unemployment
12.5%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
70.5
 Czech Republic: Wave One
The Czech Republic is one of the strongest candidates for future membership. Although the country has a high GDP per-capita, the EU is concerned that economic and legislative restructuring has not been entirely satisfactory. The other concern is the alleged victimisation of the Gypsy (Roma) minority. Czech people are the least enthusiastic about joining the EU compared with Poland and Hungary although support for the EU in 2000 has risen to 50%.
 Czech Republic: Wave One
The Czech Republic has one of the most advanced infrastructures in Eastern Europe, with an extensive rail and road network complementing its central position. It has a well-developed industrial base and extensive foreign investment, but its early privatisation has been incomplete and the drive for reform has weakened after political disagreements and economic difficulties. However, it should be a strong candidate for membership
 Czech Republic: Wave One
Population (millions)
10.3

GDP ($bn)
53.7

GDP per head ($ thousand)
5,167

Unemployment
8.7

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
69.2
 Hungary: Wave One
Economically and legislatively, Hungary is the best-prepared of the ex-Soviet bloc countries. But Hungary is worried that its EU membership will have to wait for Poland. Issues it still needs to tackle include the heavily subsidised agriculture, healthcare and public transport sectors. The relations between the Hungarian majority and the Gypsy (Roma) minority of almost 500,000, is another issue of concern.
 Hungary: Wave One
Hungary has long had a liberal economic regime, which has made the task of meeting EU membership conditions much easier. That has stimulated foreign investment, but it has also widened the gap between the region around the capital Budapest and the rest of the country. Hungary, which meets most accession conditions, is growing impatient about delays. It has long-term problems about reforming its social security system.
 Hungary: Wave One
Population (millions)
10.3

GDP ($bn)
45.6

GDP per head ($ thousand)
4,519

Unemployment
7%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
76.2
 Slovenia: Wave One
Slovenia is the northernmost and most prosperous of the ex-Yugoslav republics. It shared Hungary's fortune in avoiding heavy industry and has found it relatively easy to redirect light industries towards western markets. Slovenia has made good progress recently on incorporating EU law. But the EU urges further progress in privatisation, reform of the civil service and increased foreign investment.
 Slovenia: Wave One
Slovenia is the only country from the former Yugoslavia that is on track to join the EU. Since it declared independence in 1991, it has re-oriented its light industry towards Western markets, and introduced a liberal trade regime. With a highly educated workforce and GDP per capita near EU levels, it is an enthusiastic candidate, but attempts to privatise some state firms have recently stalled.
 Slovenia: Wave One
Population (millions)
1.986

GDP ($bn)
11.6

GDP per head ($ thousand)
10,900

Unemployment
6.7%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
66
 Estonia: Wave One
Estonia has made a successful transition to a market economy, and now sees itself as close to Scandinavia. But the EU says more work is needed on economic reform and tackling corruption. The country has a large Russian-speaking minority - mostly established during the Soviet period - who are forced to learn Estonian if they want full civic rights. The EU describes the new language law as a step backwards.
 Estonia: Wave One
Estonia's economic transformation since the end of Communism has been remarkable. It has tied its currency, the kroon, to the Deutschmark since 1992, and has re-orientated its economy to the West, with Scandinavia the biggest investor and trade partner. Russia is still an important influence, and the population is more sceptical of membership than the political and economic elites.
 Estonia: Wave One
Population (millions)
1.4

GDP ($bn)
7.9

GDP per head ($ thousand)
5,600

Unemployment
11.7%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
72.7
 Cyprus: Wave One
Cyprus has been divided since the Turkish invasion of 1974, with Greek Cypriots in the south and Turkish Cypriots in the north. Following pressure from Greece, the EU confirmed that Cyprus' right to join the EU was not dependent on resolving the division of the island. Rauf Denktash, president of the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, still refuses to participate in the EU negotiations despite strong popular support for EU accession. Economically, Cyprus is prepared for EU membership.
 Cyprus: Wave One
Cyprus does not face big problems of economic transition, but it still needs to sort out is offshore company sector - where many Russian and Middle Eastern companies locate - and raise its level of VAT to EU levels. Its GDP per head is above Greece, boosted by tourism and shipping, with agriculture no longer playing a major role. But the Turkish-occupied North has a much poorer economy.
 Cyprus: Wave One
Population (millions)
0.667

GDP ($bn)
10.5

GDP per head ($ thousand)
15,400

Unemployment
3.6%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
50.7
 Slovakia: Wave Two
Slovakia has been making great efforts to catch up with its Central European neighbours since the previous government, under Vladimir Meciar, fell in 1998. The new government has been carrying out economic reforms which have brought improvements, but there is a danger that progress will again be halted if it is not re-elected. Slovakia still has to carry out substantial reforms in banking, privatisation, improving minority rights, and securing an independent judiciary.
 Slovakia: Wave Two
Slovakia was the poorer, more industrial part of Czechoslovakia, dominated by state- heavy industries. It only recently decided to liberalise its markets after a change of government, and is now moving relatively rapidly to carry out economic reform - leading to higher unemployment But it still faces difficulties in reducing its budget deficit and is just beginning privatisation.
 Slovakia: Wave Two
Population (millions)
5.4

GDP ($bn)
20.9

GDP per head ($ thousand)
8,500

Unemployment
16.2%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
59.4
 Malta: Wave Two
Malta was officially invited to commence EU membership negotiations at the Helsinki Summit in December 1999. Malta meets the EU criteria as a market economy and is sure to have a smooth ride into the EU. However, it still has more work to do in adapting its legislation to EU requirements. Work permits and land ownership could prove tricky issues.
 Malta: Wave Two
Malta meets many of the economic and regulatory conditions for joining the EU, as a result of early negotiations which were frozen by the previous left-wing government. But it still has a relatively large state sector, and is running a large government deficit. It also needs to reform its laws on the free movement of capital. It has been in a free trade zone with the EU since 1971.
 Malta: Wave Two
Population (millions)
0.380

GDP ($bn)
3.9

GDP per head ($ thousand)
10,500

Unemployment
5.3%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
48.7
 Bulgaria: Wave Two
Bulgaria has traditionally been one of the laggards amongst EU applicants, but has been congratulated in the recent Commission progress reports for high growth. Although 60% of Bulgaria's exports are to EU countries, they are mostly low value products produced by environmentally polluting industries. Cutting the number of Bulgarians seeking asylum abroad is a sensitive issue for Bulgaria, which has launched a campaign to win a visa waiver for its nationals travelling to the European Union states.
 Bulgaria: Wave Two
Bulgaria tied its currency, the lev, to the euro (then the ecu) in 1997. That helped stabilise exchange rates and inflation, but led to higher unemployment. Many old state-owned industries were privatised as management buy-outs and still need fresh capital. Although much reform legislation has been passed, there are questions about the capacity of the courts and civil service to implement them.
 Bulgaria: Wave Two
Population (millions)
8

GDP ($bn)
13

GDP per head ($ thousand)
4,939

Unemployment
17%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
52.6
 Romania: Wave Two
The success of the ultra-nationalists in recent elections has led politicians to warn that the rise of the far right could jeopardize Bucharest's hopes of EU membership. Brussels has urged Romania to step up efforts in reforming the state-owned economy and public administration, resolving environmental problems, and improving living conditions of abandoned children in state orphanages. Romania is seen as the country with the weakest border control, putting the West at risk from an influx of illegal immigrants.
 Romania: Wave Two
Romania is one of the most economically backward of all EU applicants, with little impetus yet for real reform and strong trade union opposition to budget cuts. It came quite close to defaulting on its foreign debt in 1999. It has large oil and gas reserves that could be developed with private capital, but has had trouble meeting economic targets set by the IMF.
 Romania: Wave Two
Population (millions)
22.5

GDP ($bn)
40

GDP per head ($ thousand)
1,515

Unemployment
8.8%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
65.5
 Latvia: Wave Two
Latvia is hoping to catch up with the fast-track group of applicants, but the recent EU reports underline that progress is needed to improve the judiciary and integrate the Russian population. Like Estonia, Latvia has a large Russian-speaking minority, and a language law insisting that they use Latvian for some purposes has brought political tension at home and criticism from abroad, although this law has been recently relaxed.
 Latvia: Wave Two
Latvia's economy has succeeded in moving away from its dependence on the Russian economy, with two-thirds of exports now going to the EU, and it has weathered the recession of l997-98. But it is still running a large trade deficit, and the World Bank has warned that corruption is still a problem.
 Latvia: Wave Two
Population (millions)
2.4

GDP ($bn)
7.7

GDP per head ($ thousand)
4,100

Unemployment
14.5%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
62.5
 Lithuania: Wave Two
The EU assesses Lithuania's slow but steady progress as somewhere between Slovakia and Bulgaria, and just behind Latvia. The latest Commission report welcomed progress in fiscal policy but concluded that the economy still desperately needs restructuring, along with privatisation and agricultural reform.
 Lithuania: Wave Two
Lithuania's economy was severely tested by the Russian economic crisis, and it is still dependent on Russia for oil imports. It has been re-orientating its trade towards the EU, but still faces problems of public sector reform, high inflation, and the need for further investment in infrastructure and training.
 Lithuania: Wave Two
Population (millions)
3.7

GDP ($bn)
12.2

GDP per head ($ thousand)
4,900

Unemployment
14.1%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
50.1
 Turkey: Applicant
Turkey was declared a candidate country in 1964, but the start of negotiations is conditional on political criteria. The EU is concerned about human rights, the rights of the Kurdish community and the constitutional role of the army. They also need to reach an internationally acceptable solution to the Cyprus issue. Turkey has made some progress in human rights and crucially the death sentence has not been carried out on Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK's captured leader.
 Turkey: Applicant
Turkey's economy has suffered from severe inflationary and budgetary problems, leading to the need for an IMF stand-by loan. According to the IMF, more economic reforms are needed before Turkey will be close to Western standards, or to membership of the single currency. Turkey has long-standing trade links with the EU, and sends many workers to EU countries.
 Turkey: Applicant
Population (millions)
64.4

GDP ($bn)
409.4

GDP per head ($ thousand)
6,200

Unemployment
7.6%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
52.6
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