Could the European Union accept a member state or states that are not geographically part of Europe (e.g. Australia) under the current rules?

  • 1
    The EU website has an informal description of what conditions are required to join the EU, which says "any European country may apply for membership". but I haven't found a formal document yet which says this.
    – Philipp
    Sep 21, 2015 at 7:35
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    @Bregalad Cyprus being in Europe is highly debatable, just as EU candidate Turkey. Whereas Australia is not.
    – Joze
    Sep 22, 2015 at 12:48
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    @Joze First, Turkey is currently not EU candidate. Then it is pretty well accepted that the Bosphore is the limit between Europe and Asia, and thus that Turkey is partly European and partly Asian by its territory. This also clearly settles Cyprus in Asia. Other isles such as Rhodes would be debatable.
    – Bregalad
    Sep 22, 2015 at 13:40
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    @Bregalad Not only has Turkey officially been a candidate since 1999 (applied in 1987) but they are actually negotiating, i.e. further in the process than being merely a candidate.
    – Relaxed
    Oct 15, 2015 at 17:13
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    @SJuan76: Admission of Australia to the Eurovision Song Contest suggests the notion of "Europe" can be very flexible if enough people want it to be. ;-) Oct 26, 2017 at 8:31

1 Answer 1


Only European states are allowed to join the European Union. Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union (as amended) provides that:

Any European State which respects the values referred to in Article 2 and is committed to promoting them may apply to become a member of the Union.

Of course there is a certain amount of ambiguity of what it means to be European and it can be defined in cultural, historical and geographic terms. Cyprus is a EU member state even though it's geographically a Middle Eastern country, and Turkey is a candidate member state even though only a small part of it is in Europe, geographically speaking. Both countries are also members of the Council of Europe, the membership of which is also limited to "European States".

In contrast when Morocco applied for EU membership for 1987 it was rejected on the basis that is was not a European country. In that case there was no ambiguity.

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    A few EU member states are mostly in Europe, but include territory a long way outside it. French Guiana is part of the EU, even though it is physically located in South America. Oct 26, 2017 at 8:30

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