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S&Ds: 20th anniversary of EU Enlargement – a milestone that healed scars of history and made EU stronger in face of global challenges


30 Apr 2024



On 1 May, we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the largest and one of the most significant enlargements in the history of the European Union, the reunification of our European family. Twenty years ago, ten new countries, including eight from Central and Eastern Europe – Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia – along with Cyprus and Malta from the Mediterranean joined the European Union. This historic enlargement not only reunited Eastern and Western Europe – artificially divided by the Iron Curtain and the Cold War – but also embodied the dreams of generations striving for freedom and democracy. The S&D Group commemorates this transformative journey that has healed the scars left by WWII and has led to immense social, economic and democratic development throughout the continent. 

S&D vice-president for foreign affairs, Pedro Marques, commented: 

“The reunification of our European family has been a testament to the power of unity and shared values – fostering economic growth, strengthening democratic institutions and promoting human rights and the rule of law.

“As we reflect on this achievement, we recognise that the EU's mission of integration and unity is far from complete. The S&D Group strongly supports the ongoing accession talks with Western Balkan countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia – and advocates for the inclusion of nations like Ukraine, Moldova, Kosovo and Georgia.

“As for Turkey, the doors remain open but – unless we see drastic changes by the Turkish authorities – under the current circumstances Turkey’s EU accession process cannot resume.

“Europe will not be fully complete until all Europeans that share our democratic values are welcomed into our community.

“The integration of these countries is not merely a strategic or economic calculation; it is a commitment to our common future to make the EU prosper – to make it stronger in facing the global challenges ahead of us, especially the external threats and the rising anti-European sentiments. We are stronger together.

“There are no longer 'new' and 'old' member states. Today, there is one common European family whose doors remain open to those aspiring to join.

“Hence, we urge all member states and EU institutions to renew their commitment to this vital enlargement process, ensuring that it remains a priority in our collective agenda. Together, we continue to work towards a more prosperous, secure and unified Europe.”


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