Below is the original posting from December 8, 2003....
European Union Expansion to 25 Member States - Map (German - Karte)
NEW EU MEMBERS as of May 1, 2004
On May 1, 2004, ten (10) additional countries will join the European Union as new member states, raising the number of EU Member States from 15 to 25.
This extremely important development for the world will change the taxation and legal systems of the new EU Member States, according to a report of May 1, 2003 of PriceWaterhouseCoopers which writes:
"The enlargement of the EU will fundamentally change the tax and legal systems of the ten accession countries requiring harmonisation to ensure they are in line with EU legislation and case law. Areas affected include: VAT, customs and excise duties, direct taxation, commercial law, consumer and competition law, social security and employment law, intellectual property, e-commerce, financial services, and data protection.
Peter Cussons, international corporate tax partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers, said:
"The need for a large measure of tax and legal harmonisation is inevitable, the list of areas affected is huge, and the compliance clock is ticking.
"Companies with existing operations in the ten accession countries should be re-evaluating their operations now to enable them to implement necessary changes in time for the accession date of 1 May 2004. It should also be noted that these changes will have implications not just for companies which already operate within the accession countries, but also companies which plan to invest in or have or plan to have other business relations with those accession countries.
"I cannot emphasise enough that, with only 12 months remaining, businesses need to act now to ensure they are fully compliant with the new largely harmonised EU tax and legal environment."
And now there are only 5 months left for these changes to be made.
The enlargement of the European Union will have further long-term political, economic and legal repercussions as ebusiness.com has stated:
"In the Treaty on European Union which came into force in 1993, Article 49 says that any European State which respects the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law may apply to become a member of the Union.
Further clarification was given by the European Council meeting in Copenhagen in 1993 which laid down the basic conditions for membership - the so-called "Copenhagen criteria" :
stable institutions guaranteeing democracy;
rule of law, respect for and protection of human rights and minorities;
existence of a functioning market economy;
capacity to cope with market forces and competitive pressures within the Union;
ability to take on the obligations of membership, including Economic and Monetary Union."
As seen on the map above prepared for this purpose, these ten new members starting in the north and moving southward are:
the Czech Republic
United States and European Union compared
The European Union has similarities but also differences to the United States.
Predecessor Organizations and Member States
The predecessor organizations of the European Union started with six (6) members.
These were Belgium, West Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
Currently there are 15 so-called "member states" in the European Union including the original six member states (Germany after the reunification added the 5 East German Laender on October 3, 1990)
plus the following nine additional member states added as follows:
Denmark, Ireland, United Kingdom joined in 1973. (numbers 7,8 and 9)
Greece joined in 1981 (number 10)
Spain and Portugal joined in 1986. (numbers 11 and 12)
Austria, Finland, and Sweden joined in 1995. (numbers 13, 14 and 15)
Norway signed an accession treaty in 1994, but Norwegian voters rejected membership in a referendum, so that Norway is NOT a member of the European Union.
The accession to the European Union affects the monetary systems of the new member nations and their currencies.
What about the EURO in the new member states?
As you can read at that link, in spite of membership in the EU, the adoption of the Euro in the new member states is conditional upon meeting certain monetary requirements.
The Maastricht Treaty and Other Treaties forming the EU
The Maastricht Treaty also known as
The Treaty on European Union
entered into force by ratification of the Member States on November 1, 1993.
See the milestones of the EU in a timeline of events for the European Union
See the factsheets for the European Union