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Overview of the Teaching Kit

As part of a project funded by the PRINCE programme, the European Academy Berlin (project leader), the Bulgarian Association of German Teachers (BDV), the Robert Schuman European Centre (CERS), the Atlantic Council of Croatia, the Hanns-Seidel Foundation (offices in Sofia and Zagreb) and the Polish Robert Schuman Foundation have produced a teaching kit on the enlargement of the European Union (which exists in German, English, Bulgarian, Croatian, French and Polish) for secondary education (I & II) and for lively European activities of NGOs involved in education for active democratic citizenship (European Academies, European Houses, etc.).

European Union: which borders?


1.- Why the need for a teaching kit on European enlargement?

On May 1, 2004, barely fifteen years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the European Union increased to twenty-five member states with the arrival of ten new countries, then twenty-seven on January 1, 2007, and of course, to twenty-eight countries within a few months with the arrival of Croatia. This enlargement process is far from complete as new negotiations opened in 2005 with Turkey, then in 2010 with Iceland, and all Western Balkan countries are destined to join the EU. These recent enlargements represent major events in the contemporary history of Europe, redrawing the borders of the whole European continent.


Since the beginning of the 1990s, different conceptions of the future development of the European Union have coexisted among the Member States, divided between enlargement and deepening, while the candidates were looking for the best way to integrate quickly. However, after the historic fifth enlargement, which took place in two successive waves in 2004 and 2007, the notion of "integration capacity" of the European Union burst into the debate. The enlargement strategy is being redefined in the light of the accession of Bulgaria and Romania.


The record of the latest enlargements does not offer only positive aspects, and the economic, financial and social crisis and the over-indebtedness of states have created new risks for the enlarged Europe. But the management of enlargement and the integration of the Balkan countries remain a major challenge for the Member States after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon.


There is a certain slowdown in the process, which is at the same time a decline in support of European citizens and a certain disaffection of the candidate states. The theme of enlargement has emerged as one of the main negative factors in the referendum campaigns on the draft Constitutional Treaty in France and the Netherlands in 2007, and to a certain extent in the Treaty of Lisbon in Ireland in 2008. One of the reasons identified for this weak support of citizens is the lack of debate and publicity surrounding the important decisions taken in the 1990s regarding enlargement to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. This is why the "renewed consensus for enlargement", adopted in 2006, emphasises that "broad and sustainable support of public opinion" must be mobilized through greater transparency and communication. It is also for this purpose that Article 49 of the Treaty of the European Union has been revised by adding an obligation to inform the European Parliament and the national parliaments when submitting a new application to associate them further upstream to the process.


As for the candidate countries, as the EU develops, accession negotiations are perceived as increasingly complex and efforts to demonstrate increasingly heavy. The prospect of accession appears almost out of reach, at the risk of discouraging governments and the populations concerned. Already in the fifth enlargement there has been a decline in the support of the people towards the end of the negotiations extending over more than a decade.


Today, the prospect of membership also seems to have its limits for the resolution of the most acute conflicts in former Yugoslavia and Cyprus. To regain their full meaning, accession negotiations should no longer be seen as an external policy instrument at the disposal of the European executive, but as an integral part of the European project desired by European citizens.


2.- Conception and Realisation


The partners have defined together the objectives, the documents and the materials (interactive or fun) which constitute the common core identical to all the language versions. The aim is to avoid too "national" a vision or narrative or "founding members" versus "newcomers" of the enlargement policy, its consequences, its challenges and its perception by the Europeans.


It is a real European achievement that has associated two founding countries (Germany & France), a country of enlargement of 2004 (Poland), a country of 2007 (Bulgaria) and a country which has just completed the accession negotiations (Croatia). For the partners, it was not a question of creating tools to promote or defend the European enlargement policy. The didactic approach allows learners - institutions of secondary education I and II or those of NGOs engaged in education for active democratic citizenship - to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to participate in the democratic debate on enlargement policy of the European Union.


For the definition of common core and specific content (documents and teaching tools, complementary to the core curriculum, necessary for the national public) to each language version of the kit, partners have associated teachers (history, geography, political science, languages foreigners, education for citizenship and legal and social issues, teachers who teach their subject in a foreign language, etc.) and activity leaders from the Houses of Europe.


3.- Global Pedagocial Approach


31.- General Objectives:

  1. Allow for active participation in the democratic debate on the European Union's enlargement policy;
  2. Present the different conceptions of the future development of the European Union that coexist among the Member States, divided between enlargement and deepening;
  3. Make clear that accession negotiations are an integral part of the European project wanted by European citizens;
  4. Present the candidate countries (official, potential, possible) in a global reflection on the borders of the Union.


32.- Targer Audiences:

  1. Teachers (history, geography, political science, foreign languages, citizenship education and legal and social issues, teachers who teach their subject in a foreign language, etc.);
  2. Educators & activity leaders of educational organisations for active democratic European citizenship (European Academies, European Houses, Foundations, etc.);
  3. Documentation officers (public and associative documentation centres).


33.- General Content:


  1. History of European Integration (if needed)
  2. The limits of Europe – Basic Information
    The "Acquis Communautaire"
  3. European Union, What do the treaties and other texts say about the limits of the European Union?
  4. European Union, a Political Project
  5. European Union, a Community of Values
  6. European Union, Balanced Governance at Multiple Levels
  7. European Union, Operating Principles of the European Union
  8. European Union, the Citizens' Europe
    Enlargement Politics
  9. Enlargement Politics of the European Union
  10.  Case Study: the accession process of Croatia (1 July 2012)


34.- Pedagogical Methods:

Provision of basic documentation for educators and provision of didactic tools (for the transmission of knowledge and the acquisition of transversal skills) to be implemented with learners.


Reference for Pedagogical Appropriation:

The documents constituting the teaching kit "Enlargement" are classified according to the following pedagocical reference:



Type of Document

Level of Learner

Secondary I


Secondary II





Reference Document





Document for Teachers





Document for the Learners





Document for the Discussion





These publications are not binding the Robert Schuman European Centre, nor the partners, nor the European Commission; they are not responsible for the use that might be made of the information contained therein.

You can even modify some supports to adapt them to your target audience by respecting Creative Commons licenses: CC-BY-NC-SA:

  • CC: license for free use and dissemination
  • BY: the work may be freely used, provided that it is attributed to the author by mentioning his/her name
  • NC: no commercial use (commercial uses are subject to prior authorization by the CERS)
  • SA: share initial conditions identically (under the same Creative Commons options as the original work) for so-called derivative works offered to the public




With the financial support of the European Commission:

Programme PRINCE