In June 1993,the Copenhagen European Council recognised the right of the countries of central and eastem Europe to join the European Union when they have fulfilled three criteria: – political: stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for minorities; – economic: a functioning market economy; – incorporation of the Community acquis: adherence to the various political, economic and monetary aims of the European Union. These accession criteria were confirmed in December 1995 by the Madrid European Council, which also stressed the importance of adapting the applicant countries’ administrative structures to create the conditions for a gradual, harmonious integration. However, the Union reserves the right to decide when it will be ready to accept new members.
Glossary. Institutions, policies and enlargement of the European Union