The candidate countries prepare Pre-Accession Economic Programmes that outline the appropriate medium-term policy framework, including public finance objectives and structural reform priorities, needed for EU accession. These offer an opportunity to develop the institutional and analytical capacity necessary for participation in EMU, particularly in the areas of multilateral surveillance and coordination of economic policies.
- Each candidate country (currently Iceland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey) prepares and submits to the Commission their Pre-Accession Economic Programme (PEP) between mid October and 31 January, using an agreed format. The Commission examines the PEP and produces an evaluation.
- The evaluation from the Commission is first discussed by the Economic and Financial Committee (EFC) with their counterparts from the candidate countries. Joint Council conclusions on the PEPs are then adopted by the finance ministers at a ministerial meeting between the EU (ECOFIN) and ministers from the candidate countries. The main elements of the PEPs and their assessment by the Commission are also discussed with candidate countries in the regular bilateral economic dialogues (meetings of Subcommittees) between the EU and the countries.
- A similar but slightly lighter procedure (notably without ministerial meeting conclusions), has been established since 2006 with potential candidate countries from the Western Balkans (Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina). Accordingly, by 1 December 2006 each of these countries submitted a first medium-term Economic and Fiscal Programme.
- The Pre-accession Economic Programmes are posted on the web, as is the assessment prepared by the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs.
- Fiscal notification: each year, candidate countries submit a set of fiscal data, including general government debt and the general government balance. DG ECFIN and Eurostat produce an assessment of these fiscal notifications that is published. This assessment concerns the quality and reliability of the notified deficit (or surplus) and debt figures, and the degree of compliance of the notified data with ESA 95 accounting requirements.