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date: 25 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The European Community/EU has had six enlargements since 1973. It was during the enlargements of 2004 and 2007 that a distinction was introduced in the public discourse between ‘old’ and ‘new’ member states. In political circles, the term ‘New Member States’ (NMS) is commonly used to single out the former communist countries that joined the EU after the collapse of the Soviet bloc and Yugoslavia. The expression ‘Old member states’ (OMS) refers to France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands – six states that were at the start of the European Community/EU in 1951. But beyond the language and the representations (which matter in politics), it is not clear that the difference between OMS and NMS plays such a big role in the decision-making process of the EU. This article analyses how the difference operates or does not operate in practice.

Keywords: EU, European Community, new member states, old member states, former communist countries, Yugoslavia

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