Reconciling Europe’s geography with its history: Commission marks 15th anniversary of 2004 enlargement


Tomorrow will be the 15th anniversary of the 2004 enlargement, when 10 countries acceded to the European Union: Cyprus, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said: “The decision in 2004 to embrace 10 European countries was a great moment for our continent and a great moment in history. The accession of the Central and Eastern European countries, and the courage of their people in preparing for that accession, is what allowed us to reconcile our continent’s geography with its history. I remain an ardent fan of enlargement today.” For these Member States to catch up with the EU average in terms of growth and income, the EU invested massively via its Cohesion Policy and, since 2014, via the Investment Plan for Europe, the Juncker Plan. These investments have had very positive results on the ground, not only thanks to EU funding but also thanks to the efforts of these Member States to reform and become attractive places for investors and businesses. Under the European Structural and Investment Funds, €365.2 billion is being invested in the 10 Member States for the period 2004 until 2020 – that is 2.6% of their GDP every year. €31.4 billion in additional investment have been mobilised in the 10 Member States under the Juncker Plan since 2014. Key results of Cohesion Policy investments in the Member States include the creation of 367,000 jobs, 9.6 million people with access to broadband and 11.4 million people with better wastewater and water networks. Since 2014, Cohesion Policy investments in the 10 Member States have led to 25 million people having access to better health services.