The EEC did not have clear normative or geographical criteria defined in its Treaties for accepting new members. From early on it was not consistent in applying the geographical criterion (European states), as best shown for example by non-European territories administered as integral parts of France (1958-1962) and Denmark (1973-1985) as well as Turkey (as a candidate) and Cyprus. Paradoxically, in the years 1958-1962 and 1973-1985, the majority of the Community’s territory was outside Europe. Also, since its foundation the EEC/EU has undergone changes to its territory irrespective of the enlargements (e.g. the reunification of Germany), some of which involved territories lying outside Europe (e.g. Algeria, Greenland).
It was not until the Treaty of Maastricht from 1992, under which the EEC was one year later transformed into the EU, and the Copenhagen or the accession criteria from 1993 that clearer membership requirements were introduced. Article 49 of the Maastricht Treaty stated: ‘Any European State which respects the values referred to in Article 2 and is committed to promoting them may apply to become a member of the Union.’ Facing the possibility of a large group of post-communist Central and Eastern European countries joining in, the EU adopted the Copenhagen criteria in 1993. According to them, candidate countries must meet the following essential conditions:
The Copenhagen criteria assume that the EU itself also needs to be able to accept new members. With these accession criteria, enlargement was made strictly dependent on economic and political transformation. This process of combining integration with transformation started in the second half of the 1970s with the Mediterranean countries emerging from authoritarian regimes and moving on to build democratic institutions in order to join the Community.
This material is a part of the report “Enlarged in diversity: The EU enlargement process and its perspectives” prepared by the Polish Robert Schuman Foundation.
 In 1958-1962, over 80% of the territory of France was in Africa (with Algeria recognised as a French department). In 1973-1985, when Greenland was part of the EEC, less than 2% of Denmark’s territory was in Europe. The entire territory of Cyprus formally lies in Asia. In the case of Turkey, 97% of its territory is in Asia, with the vast majority of the country’s citizens living there.
 In 1985, Greenland left the EEC. In 1990, the reunification of East and West Germany brought East Germany into the Community.