EU member states
There are 28 full members of the European Union. The 1957 founding members of the European Economic Community, which would become the EU, were Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. They were joined in 1973 by Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland, and Denmark.
In 1981 Greece joined, followed by Spain and Portugal in 1986, each having embraced democracy after periods of dictatorship.
Austria, Finland and Sweden were able to join in 1995 after the Cold War had ended. Central and eastern European countries that emerged from Communist rule soon began to apply, so the EU saw a major enlargement in 2004 when it added Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. Two small states that had not been Communist, Cyprus and Malta, joined at the same time.
Romania and Bulgaria were delayed from joining in 2004 but entered the EU in 2007, followed in 2013 by the former Yugoslav state Croatia.