The Copenhagen economic accession criteria approved by the European Council in 1993 are twofold: they require acceding countries to be (i) functioning market economies, and (ii) to have, by the date of accession, the capacity to cope with competition and market forces within the EU. In the Commission, the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs monitors and assesses the candidate countries' progress in complying with these two criteria.
The Copenhagen criteria
In 1993, the Copenhagen European Council identified the economic and political requirements candidate countries will need to fulfil to join the EU. It also concluded that accession could take place as soon as they were capable of fulfilling them.
The criteria are:
Furthermore, the European Council of 14/15 December 2006 stressed "… the importance of ensuring that the EU can maintain and deepen its own development. The pace of enlargement must take into account the capacity of the Union to absorb new members. ... As the Union enlarges,successful European integration requires that EU institutions function effectively and that EU policies are further developed and financed in a sustainable manner."
How are economic accession criteria defined?
The Commission monitors a series of sub-criteria for each of the Copenhagen economic accession criteria:
1. Being a functioning market economy requires:
2. Being competitive in the EU requires:
Monitoring and assessment
The first full assessment of the state of a candidate country’s compliance with the Copenhagen criteria is usually provided by the Commission in its 'Opinion' on a country's application for membership. Monitoring the progress of candidate countries in meeting economic accession criteria is thereafter assessed annually by the Commission in its progress reports on each candidate country (currently Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey).
Since 2006, the monitoring of progress on the Copenhagen accession criteria has been extended to the potential candidate countries (also in annual progress reports) from the Western Balkans (Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo*).
In the Commission, the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs is in charge of monitoring and assessing the candidate – and potential candidate – countries' progress in complying with the two Copenhagen economic criteria.
* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.