Ireland marks tenth anniversary of largest ever EU Enlargement

1st May, 2014

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, TD, together with Minister of State for European Affairs, Paschal Donohoe, TD, today marked the tenth anniversary of European Union enlargement under the Irish Presidency of the EU in 2004, when ten new member states joined the Union.


Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia joined on 1 May 2004. Romania and Bulgaria joined two years later, while Croatia’s accession in 2013 brought membership of the Union to 28.


The Tánaiste said:


“Ireland has been positively shaped by the EU’s enlargement in 2004. Today, we are proud to count many people originally from the countries which joined the EU ten years ago as part of our Irish community.


“Ireland’s goods exports to Central and Eastern Europe were worth nearly €2.2 billion in last year, three times what they were in 2004. Combined exports of Irish goods and services to the region are worth more than €4.3 billion per year. In fact, we export as much merchandise to Central and Eastern Europe as we do to China and Brazil combined.”


On 1 May 2004, Ireland hosted a Day of Welcomes in the Phoenix Park for the twenty-five Member States and those countries in negotiation to become members. The late Seamus Heaney was commissioned to write a poem for the occasion titled Beacons at Bealtaine.


Celebrating the anniversary, Minister Donohoe said:


“Seamus Heaney exhorted us to “move lips, move minds and make new meanings flare” and it is true to say that Ireland has risen to that call. Our people to people contacts have never been stronger and we have created strong, lasting political and economic links with our EU partners.”


Minister Donohoe will also address the ‘Future of the EU’ conference at Dublin Castle on 6 May, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the accession of the ten Member States in 2004 and mark the largest expansion of the EU in its history.


The Dáil will also mark Europe Week with a series of statements on 6 May by the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, and Minister Donohoe as well as by opposition leaders on Ireland’s key EU priorities.


To find out more about Ireland’s growing relationship with the countries that joined in 2004 and more recently, go to this link.