Strasbourg, 9 April 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The European Parliament today overwhelmingly approved the expansion of the European Union in a vote to accept the accession treaties of 10 candidate states. All 10 candidates -- Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia -- got the parliament's backing.
Announcing the result of the vote, Parliament President Pat Cox said the time for enlargement has come. "Through the overwhelmingly positive vote this morning, we have given a simple and clear message: the time for enlargement has come and that time is now," Cox said.
The national parliaments of all 15 EU member states must now approve the expansion. Each candidate country must also back membership in a referendum. Malta and Slovenia have already voted in favor of joining the EU. Hungary is due to vote on 12 April.