Enlargement towards the east has presented the EU with new challenges. Although the new EU member states are catching up, significant disparities in these countries’ development remain. For the EU, strengthening economic and social cohesion is a key concern. Switzerland is helping to overcome these challenges by making its own independent contribution.
On 1 May 2004, the following ten states – the EU-10 – joined the European Union: Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Three years later, on 1 January 2007, Bulgaria and Romania joined. And, on 1 July 2013, Croatia became the 28th member of the EU. This eastward enlargement has presented the EU with major challenges as the economic and social disparities within the union become even more pronounced with the accession of these poorer states.