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Critically examine the factors that ultimately led to the enlargement of the EU in 2004. What are the stages and debates?

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  1. At the end of the Cold War, the Eastern European countries were finally autonomous
  2. Concerning the economy, Central and Eastern European countries were deeply affected by the past
  3. Despite the closeness between the EU and the former communist countries, the idea of the enlargement was uncertain
  4. In 1993, as a consequence of internal and external pressures the enlargement was definitely part of the EU's agenda

According to the article 43 of the European Community treaty, 'any European State may apply to become a member of the Union. The conditions of admission and the adjustments to the Treaties on which the Union is founded, which such admission entails, shall be the subject of an agreement between the member states and the applicant states'. Geographically, Europe can be defined as 'the western peninsula of the Eurasian landmass, stretching from Iceland in the west to the Urals in the east, and from Pitzbergen or Novya Zemlaya in the north to Gibraltar in the south. The desire of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic and Slovenia to be part of the European Union may thus be viewed as legitimate. While the old continent demonstrates some unity, the gap between the west and the east shows that diversity remains the main feature of Europe. On the 5th of March 1946, in a speech pronounced in Fulton, Churchill spoke for the first time about the iron curtain that fell on Europe. This metaphor was meant to describe the bipolarization of the world, with the enmity between the communist bloc and the capitalist bloc.

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