I disagree. Erkki Liikanen announced in 2000 that .eu would likely be operational within a year. He has made such pronouncements a few times now (I've previously pointed to them here but can't be bothered to look them up), and it wasn't ICANN delaying the process. Despite .eu not being on the ISO 3166-1 list, ICANN held its nose and said fine, you're on the reserved list, that's close enough. They did this within a couple of months of being asked, blinding speed by ICANN standards.|
I grant that they did also specify that .eu must sign a contract with ICANN, and that only recently may be delaying things (though I doubt it, the .eu's proposed policies are more draconian than anything ICANN has tried), but that is common for the creation of any other ccTLD or gTLD, .eu is not being singled out.
As for it being entered ahead of other applicants, and I assume you mean gTLD applicants, while there may be some sour grapes, .eu is classed as a ccTLD. It is nominally on the ISO list, it is a two-letter TLD, it is a geographic/geopolitical TLD. Other ccTLDs have, and will, be entered in the root whilst gTLD applicants twiddle their thumbs. That is, of course, an absurd situation, but the only special treatment .eu is getting from ICANN that differs from other ccTLDs seems entirely to the .eu's benefit. -g