Enlargement is one of the EU’s most powerful policy tools. The pull of the EU has helped to transform Central and Eastern Europe into modern, well-functioning democracies. More recently it has inspired far-reaching reforms in the candidate and potential candidate countries. All European citizens benefit from having neighbours that are stable democracies and prosperous market economies. Enlargement is a carefully managed process which helps the transformation of the countries involved, extending peace, stability, prosperity, democracy, human rights and the rule of law across Europe.
The European Union has undergone a number of enlargements since its creation. More and more countries have joined the first six Member States. After Bulgaria and Romania acceded on the 1 January 2007, the EU is composed of 27 Member States.