From 6 to 27 members and beyond
In the beginning, six countries – Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands – founded the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951, followed by the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community in 1957.
Five successive enlargements have followed since then:
- In 1973, Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom joined the European Union.
- In 1981, Greece became a Member State.
- In 1986, Spain and Portugal became members.
- In 1995, Austria, Finland and Sweden joined the EU.
- In 2004, Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia joined. It was a historic enlargement which signified the re-unification of Europe after decades of division.
- On 1 January 2007 Romania and Bulgaria also joined, completing this historic process.