For many of the 10 new countries, European Union membership are landmark steps in short, turbulent histories that followed the collapse of the Soviet empire.
Small countries like Lithuania and Latvia, heavily dependent on trade with Russia, have had to move quickly to open their markets and trade to the West. Eastern European heavyweights that moved quicker, like Poland and the Czech Republic, have been stumbling of late after seeing their economies boom in the 1990s.
Since formally joining at a conference in Copenhagen a year ago, some of the ten members continue to fight with Brussels over farm subsidies and rights for their workers to get employed in the West. The spats seem to be a portent of things to come.
Major repairs are still needed in state-run health and education systems, and minority rights -- like those of the Eastern European Gypsy population -- need to be guaranteed.
DW looks at the readiness and abilities of the 10 candidate countries slated to join the European Union in 2004.