IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE - The information on this site is subject to adisclaimerand acopyright notice
 
Contact   |   Search  

 << HOME
   
Enlargement process
Candidate countries
Potential candidate countries
Financial assistance

  Projects

Who does what?
Direct Access
Press corner
Enlargement videos
Picture gallery
Turkish Cypriot community
2000 - Political Documents related to the Enlargement Process
Graphical element
 

1. Strategy Paper 2000

PDFs: ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV

I. The overall context

The project of European construction, begun in the aftermath of the war, which shattered our continent, has led a succession of countries to join it of their own free will and consent. The magnetism of our model of integration has been such that, for most of its life, the European Community, now the European Union, has been in the process of expansion.

In 1993 the Copenhagen European Council made the historic promise that "the countries in Central and Eastern Europe that so desire shall become members of the Union. Accession will take place as soon as a country is able to assume the obligations of membership by satisfying the economic and political conditions". That political declaration, made at the highest level, was a solemn promise that will be honoured.

Thirteen countries have now applied to join, and others can be expected to present, or renew, their applications for membership in the coming years.

The enlargement of the EU now under way on the basis of the Luxembourg (1997) and Helsinki (1999) European Council decisions has an unprecedented political, historical and moral dimension. This is more than just an enlargement. It means, in fact, bringing our continent together. We are moving from division to unity, from a propensity for conflict to stability, and from economic inequality to better life-chances in the different parts of Europe.

1. The benefits of enlargement

This enlargement will change the face of Europe and will affect all Community institutions and areas of policy. The two underlying strategic aims - projecting political stability and strengthening Europe as an economic power - look set to be achieved.

The benefits of enlargement are already visible. Stable democracies have emerged in Central and Eastern Europe. Systemically, they are already so robust that there need be no risk of a relapse into authoritarianism. The credit for this success belongs mainly to the people of those countries themselves. They alone took the decision to follow the difficult path and build open societies, modern democracies and functioning market economies. The speed with which they have accomplished this is a tribute to their own political farsightedness and their courage.

But undoubtedly the process was helped and encouraged by the prospect of European integration. The direction of political and economic reforms and the determination with which they are being pursued reflect the need to meet the EU membership criteria laid down by the Copenhagen European Council in 1993.

Events have amply validated these criteria. The political stability in the Central and East European candidate countries is rooted in common European values - democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and the protection of minorities - and that is precisely why it is set to last. The immediate effects are a dramatic improvement in the security situation in Europe and the opening up of a huge potential for economic development. The analysis of progress in individual countries shows that reforms pay off. In several cases the extent of structural change in the economy is already producing rapid growth from new, healthy roots. It looks as though enlargement is that rare thing, a win-win process.

Both the existing EU Member States and the prospective members benefit equally from political stability. Outbreaks of trouble become less likely, causes of conflict, such as minority issues and border problems, are removed, and integration removes the potential for conflict. A stable political framework is a precondition not simply for lasting peace and neighbourly co-existence, but for economic vigour. We are seeing the signs of that too, accompanied by healthy growth prospects for the coming decade.

This means an opportunity for the candidate countries to increase their living standards and improve their prospects in global competition. The advantages for the Member States are already tangible. They run considerable surpluses on their export trade with the candidate countries, and these translate into more jobs, more tax revenue and more money for social security systems.

2. A stronger Europe

The enlargement of the Union will strengthen its ability to confront the challenges of the new century. Past experience has shown that successive enlargements have brought not only new members, but new political and economic dynamism: widening has gone hand in hand with deepening. The present round of enlargement brings in countries that wish to contribute full-heartedly to the European project, and will help to shape the institutions and governance of the future Europe.

This Europe will be in an historically unique position to pursue even better the projects on which the present Union is engaged: the Euro, the development of Europe's common foreign and security policy, the completion of the area of security, liberty and justice for Europe's citizens. The future members, already exposed to the challenge of globalisation, will help us to surmount it.

The inclusion of these countries in the Union, with their acceptance of its rules and policies, will improve our capacity to safeguard Europe's environment, to combat crime, to improve social conditions, and to manage migratory pressures. Without their membership, we would be less capable to solve these problems.

So the political and economic facts explain the benefits of the enlargement project, but they do not tell the whole story. The less tangible moral and psychological factors are also important. This is a question of credibility and setting clear objectives.

3. A strategy for progress

The complex negotiating process, coupled with the difficult preparation for membership, gives rise to uncertainty on the part of the candidate countries about the progress of enlargement. This makes it essential for the EU to project a steady and unambiguous commitment to enlargement. The candidate countries' reactions are understandable and need to be taken seriously. This becomes particularly clear in discussions on the culmination of the process, in other words on setting firm entry dates.

The EU has rightly avoided setting a rigid timetable. There is more to readiness for membership than the completion of negotiations; the entry criteria have to be fulfilled, and that means a sustained effort of reform that often depends on domestic political and economic circumstances and therefore cannot be worked out in advance.

However, it should now become easier to estimate the timing, as the negotiations advance, and the individual countries make further progress in their preparation for accession.

The negotiations are about to enter a much harder and more intensive stage. Before embarking on this we need further improvements to the political framework, in other words we need to create a favourable climate for negotiations.

The most important element here is to respect commitments made. The Helsinki European Council (1999) stated that the Union will take decisions on the necessary institutional reforms by the end of 2000 so as to be able to welcome new members as from the end of 2002. It is crucial to the credibility of the EU's enlargement policy that we keep to this timetable and do not impose any new conditions for membership. With its decisions on Agenda 2000, and the success of the current intergovernmental conference at the next European Council in Nice, the EU will have fulfilled the necessary conditions. The subsequent continuation of the reform process will not alter this fact, for enlargement should not be conditional on its results.

The second crucial element is the recognisable political will to press ahead and resolve a number of difficult outstanding issues in the negotiating process, and thus to move on to a more substantive stage of the talks.

These are the considerations underlying the Commission's recommendations for the future strategy of the enlargement process.

Even if no date has yet been fixed for the finalisation of the process, there is nevertheless time pressure. We must not delude ourselves that the EU has endless time to complete its enlargement project. There is a window of opportunity open now and it needs to be seized.

Over the last ten years society in the candidate countries of Central and Eastern Europe has been placed under enormous strain. These societies have had to make the transition from communist rule and centrally planned economies to democracy and the market, while at the same time gearing themselves up to the sophisticated machinery of European integration. The resultant social stresses cannot be ignored. It is perfectly understandable that people now want to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The appetite for further efforts and reforms might well diminish if these countries start to feel the goal of EU membership will never be in reach. To prevent a possible surge of doubt and frustration, determination and leadership is needed from the EU.

4. The need for information

An enlargement project on the scale of the one we have embarked on requires a communications strategy spread over a number of years to keep citizens of the EU and the candidate countries informed, ensure their participation in the process and finally win their support for it. This goes beyond satisfying the right of the people concerned to be correctly informed of what enlargement will mean for them. It is the democratic legitimisation of the process itself.

Enlargement can only succeed if it is a social project involving all citizens and not just an elite. Only genuine participation can achieve this. Information is not enough. We have to set in motion a wide-ranging dialogue in our societies to make the risks and benefits clear to people and let them know that their concerns are being taken seriously.

Surveys in the Member States and candidate countries (which should in general be treated with some caution, however) give a varying picture. There are generally majorities in the candidate countries in favour of accession to the EU, and the number of people in favour outnumbers opponents in the Member States as well. But there are significant regional differences, and judgements vary on the individual candidate countries. In contrast to the candidate countries, enlargement is not seen as a priority by public opinion in the Member States, apart from a few exceptions. An effective communication strategy will not be limited to emphasising the objective political and economic benefits of enlargement; rather it should seek, via an interactive process, to allay people's concerns and fears.

These concerns and fears are well known. In the candidate countries they arise from the economic and social changes involved. The conversion of whole systems is still under way in Central and Eastern Europe. Such conversion entails radical changes in the life of each individual, with costs as well as benefits. Uncertainty and fear of the future are the natural consequences. The question of sovereignty and national and cultural identity also plays an important role. For peoples who have only recently regained freedom and self-determination, membership of the EU can appear to be a loss of sovereignty, whereas the experience of those countries involved in European integration is that it augments their capacity to influence events. Of course there are Eurosceptics and even people hostile to Europe in the candidate countries who are ready to blame all the problems of systemic change on Brussels and exploit concerns about loss of identity for their own populist ends.

Concerns in the Member States focus on fears about possible negative impact of enlargement - uncontrollable immigration, unfair competition, particularly for jobs, imported crime, environmental dumping and financial burdens. Another identifiable concern is that the EU might be incapable after an enlargement on such a scale of properly achieving its objectives.

In particular, the people in the regions bordering the candidate countries need to be reassured of the positive effects of enlargement. In order to address fears, the Commission will over the next few months prepare an objective analysis of the situation in border regions and examine how the existing instruments on the Community level reply to such concerns. On the basis of this analysis, the Commission will examine how to optimize existing instruments and how to ensure better co-ordination.

The communication strategy will be credible only if the results of the negotiations show that the perceived risks either do not exist or can be overcome. In this respect, gaining acceptance is part of the negotiation process.

The Commission saw the need for a communications strategy that deals with these issues seriously as soon as it took office; it immediately set to work putting in place the financial and organisational conditions necessary to implement such a strategy. It is guided by the following principles:

  • Decentralisation. The strategy is developed and implemented in the candidate countries and the Member States in a decentralised manner. It is geared to the specific needs and conditions of the individual countries.
  • Flexibility. Enlargement is a highly dynamic process with effects on public opinion in individual countries that are difficult to gauge. So the strategy must react to changes of mood and to new issues that arise, and this means reviewing the contents of programmes year by year.
  • Synergy. What the Commission does must only complement in a sensible way the efforts of the countries themselves. This is why there has to be close and ongoing co-ordination with what is being done by governments, parliaments and groups in society at large. Close co-ordination is likewise needed with the expected activities of the European Parliament.

How to go about this? The means available generally do not allow us to rely on the instruments of mass communication. We should rather seek a multiplier effect by focusing on opinion makers and groups with influence in society, such as political parties, churches, trade unions, trade associations, women's and youth organisations, NGOs and existing European networks. Journalists and the media are a vital link in the chain of information and communication. Nor should we forget schools and establishments of higher education, which should be given the means to deal with the topic of enlargement. It is also important to promote direct meetings and frequent exchanges between the peoples of the Member States and the candidate countries.

This approach can succeed only if the political, economic and cultural groups step forward to act as mediators and engage in dialogue. So motivating and encouraging these groups will also be part of the strategy. In short, we want to bring about a wide-ranging public debate which is informed by the facts and their implications.

5. The enlargement process and neighbouring countries

Enlargement will bring benefits of enhanced security, stability and prosperity not only to the Union but to the wider international community, including the EU's major trading partners. Enlargement will increase the size of the single market where traders and investors will only have to deal with a common external tariff, and a common set of rules and procedures. A wider European Union will stimulate growth and create new investment and trading opportunities, and it will place the Union in a better position to contribute to international efforts to address such cross-cutting issues as migration, environmental pollution, illegal trafficking and organised crime.

Over the past year the neighbouring countries of the future enlarged Union have paid increasing attention to the implications that enlargement will have on them. The EU needs to explain these benefits to its neighbours and to discuss the impact of enlargement so that both they and the Union take full advantage of the new opportunities. Some issues will need sensitive handling. Enlargement negotiations are a matter for the Union and each candidate and do not provide a role for any third party. The Commission is nevertheless ready to provide detailed explanations of the changes which will take place in the run up to enlargement.

For enlargement to proceed smoothly, the EU must continue to develop deep, multi-faceted relationships with its immediate neighbours. The Partnership and Association arrangements which the EU has entered into with its neighbours seek to create conditions for political stability and economic growth to ensure that the future borders of the Union do not create new dividing lines in Europe.

a) Western Balkans

At its meeting in Santa Maria da Feira in June 2000 the European Council agreed that all of the countries in the region are "potential candidates" of the Union. This perspective should help each country to accelerate the pace of reform and to begin to align its laws and structures with those in the European Union. In many areas, experience gained in the pre-accession process with the candidate countries will be useful in transferring expertise and know-how to the Western Balkan countries.

The Stabilisation and Association Process, which is the framework for the EU's policy in the Western Balkans, is now better understood in the region and is seen as the "road to Europe". It provides for political dialogue, far-reaching trade liberalisation, important financial assistance and close co-operation in many spheres of economic and social life. This framework allows each country to move at its own pace, with technical and financial support from the Union.

Negotiations for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the FYROM are nearing completion. The Commission has also proposed to open negotiations with Croatia in recognition of the commitment to democratic values demonstrated by the new leadership since the elections there in January 2000, and the far-reaching structural reforms being introduced. The government in Albania is working closely with the Commission to introduce the necessary preparatory reforms, in response to the Commission's report on the feasibility of opening negotiations there. With the backing of the wider international community the Commission has set out measures which Bosnia Herzegovina needs to introduce to create the conditions for negotiating a Stabilisation and Association Agreement.

The people of Serbia have decided to end their isolation and to return to the European mainstream. This momentous decision will help to bring stability and prosperity to the whole region. Work has now been initiated to examine ways of progressing towards a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Throughout the past year the Union has also been active in providing political and financial support to Montenegro to help it to maintain its choice of democracy and reform. In Kosovo, the Union has been the leading civilian donor in reconstruction, mainly through the European Agency for Reconstruction. Through its participation in the EU pillar of the UN administration, UNMIK, it has also been helping to shape policy on the future economic structures of the province.

b) To the East

Russia has expressed an interest in holding discussions with the EU on the implications of enlargement. Rather than creating a special group for this purpose, the Commission proposes to use the institutions of the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement. Technical discussions in areas such as trade and energy can take place in the Co-operation Committee. Broader discussions on enlargement issues are better suited to the Co-operation Council, where they can take place at Ministerial level.

One Russian region that will be particularly affected by enlargement is Kaliningrad. After the accession of Poland and Lithuania, Kaliningrad will become a Russian enclave within the EU. The Union needs to devise a strategy, in co-operation with Russia, Poland and Lithuania, to ensure that Kaliningrad can benefit from the greater prosperity that accession to the EU will bring to its neighbours. Regional co-operation will be an important element of that strategy.

Not least because of its geographical closeness to the future enlarged Union, enlargement will have profound implications for Ukraine. Here too the Partnership and Co-operation bodies are the appropriate fora for both political and technical discussions.

A widened Union will also have a stronger interest - and be in a better position - to develop fuller relationships across the whole continent, including the countries of the Caucasus.

c) To the South

The Mediterranean neighbours are moving closer to the EU through the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and the conclusion of Association Agreements. The Commission has recently made proposals to add new impetus to the Barcelona process and hopes that these will be taken up by the Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial meeting at Marseilles in November. With political and economic reforms now higher on the agenda in several Mediterranean countries there is a new opportunity to give full expression to our deep historical ties with the region. We seek to develop even closer political relations and to create an investment-friendly climate, building on the economic and trade advantages offered by the Association Agreements. The benefits of enlargement will be felt by all the Mediterranean partners and the implications of enlargement should be factored into future EU policies towards the region.

****

In response to the requests of the European Councils of Helsinki and Santa Maria da Feira, the Commission has drawn up reports on the candidates' progress in preparing for accession, observing the same approach as in 1998 and 1999. The European Council in Santa Maria da Feira concluded:  'The European Council at Nice will review progress on enlargement and consider how to take forward the accession process.' The following describes the stage reached in the pre-accession strategy (Part II), draws together the analysis in each regular report (Part III) and combines a short analysis of the stage reached in the negotiations with recommendations on steps to take the accession process forward (Part IV).

II. The Pre-Accession Strategy

The pre-accession strategy consists of a combination of priority setting coupled with financial assistance, Association Agreements, participation in Community programmes and agencies and preparation of the negotiations through analytical examination of the acquis. It helps the candidate countries to prepare for their future membership by aligning with the acquis before accession.

1. Priority setting

The Accession Partnerships are the central pre-accession strategy instrument. The current Accession Partnerships were adopted in December 1999 for candidate countries in Central and Eastern Europe and in March 2000 for Cyprus and Malta. On the basis of the Regular Reports they put forward the short and medium-term priorities for each country to fulfil the accession criteria. They also indicate the financial assistance available from the Community in support of these priorities and the conditions attached to that assistance.

The EU has not had to invoke the conditionality clause of the Accession Partnership Regulation, which relates to insufficient progress towards meeting the accession criteria or failure to meet Association Agreement obligations. Each Regular Report underlines achievements as well as shortcomings. Any short-term priorities that have not been fully met remain applicable and are closely monitored. The existing medium-term priorities are confirmed by the conclusions of the current Regular Reports and form the basis for programming assistance in 2001. The Commission, therefore, does not consider it necessary to revise the Accession Partnerships at this stage.

This year an Accession Partnership for Turkey is proposed for the first time, in line with the Helsinki European Council conclusions. In July 2000, the Commission proposed a Regulation for a single framework for financial co-operation with Turkey with a legal basis for the Accession Partnership. In parallel to this paper, the Commission makes a proposal for the Accession Partnership, setting out short and medium-term priorities which Turkey should implement to progress towards meeting the accession criteria.

In response to the Accession Partnership, ten candidate countries have revised their national programme for the adoption of the acquis (NPAA),which indicate the humanand financial resources,and the timetable needed to meet the accession priorities. Cyprus and Malta adopted NPAAs for the first time in 2000 and Turkey is now preparing its national programme. In some countries the NPAAs now form part of the budgetary process. An assessment of the NPAA is included in each Regular Report.

2. Financial assistance

Central and Eastern European candidate countries have benefited from EC financial assistance since the beginning of the transition process. From 2000, the Community has doubled its pre-accession assistance to over € 3 billion a year. The PHARE programme is now accompanied by two new instruments, which prepare for the Structural Funds. ISPA (Pre-Accession Structural Instrument) allocates over € 1 billion a year to investment in environment and transport infrastructure, and SAPARD (Structural Adjustment Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development) allocates over € 500 million a year to agricultural and rural development.

With an annual budget of € 1.5 billion, the PHARE programme co-finances institution building together with associated investment in the infrastructure for the implementation of the acquis and support for economic and social cohesion. This concentrates resources on the main challenges facing the candidatecountries, an approach confirmed in the Commission's recent PHARE review. This review confirmed the importance of PHARE as a bridge to the structural funds and of handing over the implementation of PHARE to the candidates as soon as possible.

Around one third of PHARE is allocated to Institution building whichstrengthens the candidates' capacity to enforce and implement the acquis. TAIEX (Technical Assistance Information Exchange Office) makes experts available for short-term advice. Twinninginvolves the long-term secondment of officials from Ministries, regional bodies, publicagencies and professional organisations in the Member States to corresponding bodies in the candidate countries, to promote the transfer of technical and administrative know-how. 228 twinning projects are operational with 150 pre-accession advisers already in place. 129 further projects are being initiated under PHARE 2000. The list of twinning projects financed under PHARE in 1998-2000 is contained in Annex 4.

Twinning initially applied to agriculture, finance, environment, and justice and home affairs and has now been extended to all Accession Partnership priorities. Medium term twinning will be introduced in 2001 to provide more flexibility. SIGMA (Support for Improvement in Governance and Management in Central and Eastern European countries) provides advice on horizontal government functions.

Another third of the PHARE budget co-finances investment tohelp equip the candidate countries to implement the acquis. The remaining third of the PHARE budget is now being allocated to economic and social cohesion. This helps develop the mechanisms and institutions necessary to implement Structural Funds after accession, supported by investment or grant schemes with a regional or sectoral focus.

SAPARD implementation will be fully decentralised. The rural development plans of the beneficiary countries are expected to be approved by the Commission before the end of 2000. On the basis of the approved plans, SAPARD will co-finance rural development projects selected by the countries. The implementation structure for each country includes a SAPARD Agency, responsible for management and payments, Before SAPARD funds may be transferred to a country, the Agency needs to be accredited by the competent authority of the relevant country and the implementation structure must be approved by the Commission. In all countries, the preparation of the accreditation of the SAPARD agency is currently ongoing.

Under ISPA, each country has prepared national strategies for transport and environment, and the Commission has approved several projects. These concern i.a. waste water treatment (at Bydgoszcz, Poland and at Gyφr, Hungary), waste management (at Peatri Neamt, Romania), road rehabilitation (Corridor IXB in Lithuania) and rail improvement (Bratislava-Senkvice rail track). It is expected that the full allocation for the year 2000 will be committed before the end of the year and that an equal share between the two sectors will be attained.

The Commission and the candidates will ensure the co-ordination of PHARE, SAPARD and ISPA.

Co-financing with the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) is especially important for large-scale infrastructure projects. The 1998 Memorandum of Understanding between the Commission and the IFIs to enhance co-ordination and co-financing with PHARE was revised in March 2000 to include ISPA and SAPARD.

In 1998 and 1999, PHARE commitments in co-financed projects amounted to € 400 million. The European Investment Bank's (EIB) loans in Central and Eastern Europe amounted to € 2.173 billion in 1999. It has a loan potential of € 16 billion for 2000-2007 in these countries (€ 8.68 billion with Community budget guarantee, € 8.5 billion in a pre-accession facility without this guarantee).

The Council adopted a Regulation for both Cyprus and Malta on pre-accession operations in March 2000. It provides for a financial contribution of € 95 million over the period 2000-2004 towards meeting the priorities of the Accession Partnerships. The budgetary allocation for 2000 is € 6 million for Malta and € 9 million for Cyprus. These two countries are eligible to the EIB pre-accession facility and to the € 6.425 billion EIB facility for Mediterranean countries. EIB loans to Cyprus amounted to € 200 million in 1999.

Financial assistance to Turkey has been doubled. From 2000 onwards the yearly allocation to Turkey has been set at 15% of the MEDA bilateral envelope, in addition to the € 50 million annual average allocation foreseen in the framework of the two 'European strategy/ pre-accession strategy ' regulations. These funds are available for structural reforms, institution building and investment in the acquis, in line with the approach for the other candidate countries. The Commission will propose a new financial assistance regulation in early 2001 to bring management and procedures closer to those of the PHARE programme. This regulation will provide the legal base for a single budget line, as set out in the Commission's EU budget proposal for 2001, as requested by the European Council of Santa Maria da Feira.

A proposal for a € 450 million EIB loan has been made by the Commission to strengthen the Customs Union. In addition, Turkey is eligible for the € 6.425 billion EIB facility for Mediterranean countries and the Commission has recommended that it becomes eligible for the EIB pre-accession facility. In 1999, the EIB has agreed to a € 600 million loan for reconstruction after the earthquake.

3. The Association Agreements

The Europe Agreements (EAs) with the Central and Eastern European candidate countries provide an essential framework for monitoring the adoption of the acquis and the implementation of Accession Partnership priorities. The recently re-organised sub-committees provide a suitable forum for this, making further meetings for the analytical examination of the acquis unnecessary (see below).

Following an Association Council decision in June 2000, the agreement with Hungary has entered its second stage. This means further liberalisation as regards the provisions on establishment. A similar decision regarding the Czech Republic is expected shortly. The Commission is examining requests for transition to the second stage by other associated countries.

Negotiations for additional reciprocal trade concessions in the field of agricultural products have led to agreements with each of the ten Central and Eastern European countries. These concessions entered into force on 1 July 2000 or will enter into force shortly on an autonomous basis, pending the conclusion of additional Protocols to the EAs. They represent a major step forward, further enhancing trade relations between the parties. The proportion of bilateral agricultural trade exempted from duty is likely to more than double, from 36% to 81% for EU imports and from 18% to 39% for EU exports. Further, it was agreed with each of the ten countries to continue with the negotiations in order to broaden the scope of the agricultural bilateral trade concessions.

Framework agreements for a Protocol on European Conformity Assessment (PECA) were initialled with the Czech Republic and Hungary. Negotiations with Latvia and Estonia are underway. The PECAs aim at extending internal market rules on conformity assessment for manufactured goods to the candidate countries before accession Under the PECAs, the candidate countries will introduce the acquis for selected sectors. The EC and the candidate country also agree to accept each other's technical bodies for assessing the conformity of goods with the legislation, making technical checks at border crossings unnecessary.

As regards Turkey, the Association Council opened negotiations in April 2000 on an agreement aiming at the liberalisation of services and at the mutual opening of public procurement. The implementation of the Customs Union remains the cornerstone of bilateral relations.

4. Participation in Community Programmes and Agencies

The participation of candidate countries in Community programmes is a key feature of the pre-accession strategy. All candidate countries in Central and Eastern Europe participate in Community programmes, in particular in education, vocational training, youth, research, energy, the environment, small and medium-sized enterprises and public health. In most cases and at the candidate countries' request, the cost of this participation is co-financed by Phare. In 1998-1999, more than 16.000 students from the candidate countries benefited from ERASMUS and 34.000 participated in the YOUTH programme.

Cyprus participates in certain programmes in audio-visual, education, vocational training, youth, scientific research and small and medium-sized enterprises. An agreement has been negotiated with Malta on its participation in programmes dealing with education, vocational training and youth.

Turkey participates in two Community programmes (Life and the 5th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development). Following the Helsinki European Council conclusions, the Commission is preparing for full Turkish participation in education, vocational training and youth programmes. Discussions with the Turkish authorities are underway as for participation in other Community programmes.

Participation in any given programme depends upon either an Association Council decision or an equivalent agreement with Cyprus and, in the near future, Malta and Turkey. As these programmes evolve, numerous decisions or agreements are required on the participation of the candidates. To shorten the procedures, the Commission had recommended to the Council in December 1999 to proceed through a single framework decision (or agreement) for each candidate country, to allow its participation in all Community programmes. The Commission is now proposing ten Framework Decisions to the Council for Central and Eastern European countries as well as three draft negotiating directives with a view to concluding bilateral agreements with Cyprus, Malta and Turkey.

Negotiations for the participation of all 13 candidate countries in the European Environment Agency have recently been concluded. Following ratification of the relevant agreements, most will become members of the Agency in 2001. Turkey will participate in activities of the European Environmental Agency from January 2001. Similar agreements will shortly be negotiated with most candidates on participation in the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug-Addiction. Preparations for participation in other Community agencies are also under way.

5. Analytical examination of the acquis

The analytical examination of the acquis, 'screening', which began with the candidate countries of Central and Eastern Europe and Cyprus in March 1998, and with Malta in February 1999, was completed at the end of 1999. It has helped identify issues that may need to be taken up in the negotiations.

The new acquis adopted in the course of 1999 was transmitted to the negotiating countries in the first part of 2000. Meetings to explain the new acquis were held on certain issues. This will be repeated in early 2001 to present the new acquis adopted in 2000. In future the Association committees and sub-committees will be used to explain the new acquis and to discuss its adoption and implementation.

In the same way, the Association Council with Turkey set up eight sub-committees in April 2000 to prepare the process of analytical examination of the acquis and to monitor the implementation of the Accession Partnership priorities. Three of these sub-committees have met already: agriculture and fisheries, transport, energy and environment and internal market. They will all have met by the end of 2000, with a second series of meetings scheduled for early 2001. The Commission will then 'report to the Council on progress in preparing the process of analytical examination of the acquis' as requested by the European Council of Santa Maria da Feira.

6. The European Conference

The European Conference is a forum for political consultation on issues of common interest to the EU member states and the candidate countries. Turkey will participate for the first time in the European Conference in Sochaux on 23 November 2000. This conference, at ministerial level, will be devoted to the EU's institutional reforms. A second one, at the level of Heads of State and government, will be held in Nice on 7 December. Turkey's participation will enable the Conference to function as intended.

The Commission suggests that, after the Nice European Council, the European Conference's working methods be improved and that it continue to be used as the framework for discussing the future of the Union with the candidate countries.

III. Progress by the Candidate Countries in meeting membership criteria

The Commission first set out its analysis of the progress made by the candidate countries of Central and Eastern Europe in meeting the accession criteria in its July 1997 Opinions on their applications for membership. These were followed by Regular Reports in 1998 for these countries and also for Cyprus and Turkey, and in 1999 for all the candidate countries including Malta.

The Commission's assessment of the candidate countries' progress is based on the criteria defined by the European Councils in Copenhagen in 1993 and Madrid in 1995. As in previous years, this year's reports highlight legal measures actually adopted rather than those under preparation.

The Commission has examined whether, since October 1999, announced reforms have in fact been carried out. It has also analysed progress in each candidate's capacity to adopt the acquis of the European Union, which is now presented in the order of the 29 negotiating chapters. The Commission has continued also to analyse steps taken to adapt administrative structures to the requirements of the acquis. This analysis has now been integrated in the relevant acquis section, instead of constituting a separate part of the reports. Each chapter now includes not only an assessment of progress achieved since last year's report, but also an assessment of overall progress.

The assessment is based initially on information provided by the candidate countries themselves. The Commission has also taken into account information provided in the screening of the acquis and in the context of the accession negotiations as well as in meetings held under the Association Agreements. It has also compared information from these sources with that contained in the new National Programmes for the Adoption of the Acquis, which were transmitted to the Commission in the first part of 2000. The Commission has also drawn on the reports of the European Parliament, evaluations from the Member States, the work of international organisations, in particular the Council of Europe and OSCE, and international financial institutions as well as non-governmental organisations.

1. Political criteria

a) Overall Development

The Copenhagen European Council stated that "membership requires that the candidate country has achieved stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and the respect for and protection of minorities". Article 6 of the Amsterdam Treaty indicates that "The Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law".

In the 1999 reports, the Commission concluded that all the currently negotiating candidate countries met the political criteria, even if some still had progress to make in the protection of human rights and minorities. The countries have continued to strengthen the functioning of their democratic systems of government. Free and fair national or local elections were held in Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovenia since the last Regular Reports.

Modernisation of public administration and strengthening the judiciary are of crucial importance in the implementation of the acquis and the transition process. Considerable efforts have been made to train civil servants and judges and to reinforce the independence, professionalism and effectiveness of public administration and the civil service. This needs to be sustained.

Last year's reports identified corruption as a serious problem 'exacerbated by low salaries in the public sector and extensive use of bureaucratic controls in the economy'. This assessment remains valid. Corruption, fraud and economic crime are widespread in most candidate countries, leading to a lack of confidence by the citizens and discrediting the reforms. Anti-corruption programmes have been undertaken and some progress made, including accession to international instruments in this area, but corruption remains a matter of serious concern.

In last year's composite paper, the Commission had underlined the problems in childcare institutions in Romania. Since then, Romaniahas adopted legislative, administrative and financial measures, with PHARE support, to address this issue. However the living conditions of over 100,000 children have not improved and a policy for structural reform is only now being put in place. Further sustained efforts are therefore required to achieve tangible improvements, as well as addressing the problem of street children, in full respect of human rights.

In spite of legal prohibition, trafficking in women and children is a growing problem in certain candidates, which have become countries of origin, transit and destination. The abuse of international adoption schemes is also a matter of concern. Significant efforts are necessary to prevent such trafficking.

Legal protection of gender equality has progressed in most candidate countries, through a more appropriate legislative framework and also with the signature of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women. Law implementation also has progressed, through more effective Labour inspection services or specific bodies set up in some countries, such as the Ombudsman for Equal Opportunities. However, further efforts are needed to promote the economic and social equality of women.

As regards minorities, positive developments have occurred since last year's reports. Estonia and Latvia have further progressed in the integration of non-citizens and continue to fulfil all the OSCE recommendations regarding citizenship and naturalisation. In both countries, the language law has been brought into compliance with international standards. The basic treaty between Hungary and Slovakia is being implemented concerning the Hungarian minorityin Slovakia. In Romania, following the rejection of appeals against the government's decision to establish a university teaching in Hungarian, German and Romanian, it is hoped that this project will soon be realised.

The Roma continue to face widespread discrimination and difficulties in social and economic life, as underlined in last year's reports. In most countries where this situation occurs, measures and programmes have now been adopted, supported by PHARE funding and, in some cases, national budgetary resources. These programmes, which need to be supported by budgetary means in all countries, should be implemented in a more sustained manner, in close co-operation with Roma representatives. To that aim, the EU presidency organised a conference in Lisbon, in June 2000, in close co-operation with the Commission, with the participation of Roma NGOs.

In its 1999 report, the Commission concluded that Turkey did not meet the Copenhagen political criteria. This remains valid. However, over the past year, important changes have occurred: the Government has adopted, in September 2000, a number of 'priority objectives' for reforms and legislation to comply with the Copenhagen political criteria, on the basis of a report of the Supreme Board of Co-ordination for Human Rights. Moreover, the Government has signed two major human rights conventions. Another positive development is the public debate that started in Turkey, since the Helsinki European Council, on the conditions for Turkey's accession to the EU. This debate has been fuelled also by the publication of reports on torture by the Turkish Grand National Assembly Human Rights committee.

The Commission is still concerned about shortcomings as regards respect for human rights and the right of minorities and about the constitutional role that the army plays in political life through the National Security Council.

However, the Commission welcomes the recent initiatives. It strongly encourages the Government to translate its declared intentions into concrete measures and hopes that the Parliament will ratify the recently signed human rights conventions without significant reservations. The Commission has also welcomed the decision to defer the execution of Mr. Abdullah Φcalan. It hopes that the situation in south-east Turkey will further stabilise.

b) Conclusions

The requirements set by the Copenhagen political criteria, and the Commission's regular assessment of progress achieved in meeting them, have led to positive developments in all candidate countries. The overall record in strengthening democratic institutions, in respecting the rule of law and in protecting human rights has improved since last year.

However, the reform or the reinforcement of the judiciary should be accelerated to ensure respect of the rule of law and the effective enforcement of the acquis. The continued prevalence of corruption gives cause for concern. Tangible results in this field are also needed to respond to public concern and help ensure a transparent business environment. The growing problem of trafficking in women and children calls for vigorous measures. Sustained efforts are required to improve the situation of the Roma. Turkey should now take the necessary decisions to translate its intentions concerning human rights into concrete measures.

The conclusions of each Regular Report are contained in Annex 1. The list ofHuman Rights conventions ratified by the candidate countries is in Annex 3.

2. Economic criteria

a) Overall development

This reporting period's assessment of the progress made in meeting the Copenhagen economic criteria takes place against the background of strong world wide growth, with the pick up of growth in the European Union being particularly beneficial for the candidate countries. Whereas 1999 figures still are influenced by the successive negative effects of the Asian, Russian and Kosovo crisis, these effects are subsiding in the available figures for the year 2000. The overall average real increase in GDP for the ten Central and Eastern European candidates is expected to be around 4% and just below 5% for all thirteen candidate countries.

With few exceptions, the overall economic performance of the candidate countries has improved. As the EU recorded strong growth at the same time, not all of them have shown real economic convergence towards the EU average. Moreover, disparities within the candidate countries tend to widen, in particular between the capitals and the regions bordering the EU, on one side, and the eastern regions on the other side. This is not an uncommon development in catching-up countries. However, future policies should also aim to reduce regional economic and social disparities.

In 1999 average real GDP growth for the ten Central and Eastern European countries was 2.2%. Five candidate countries have maintained high growth rates: Slovenia at 4.9%, Cyprus and Hungary at 4.5%, Poland and Malta at 4.2%. Economic growth in Bulgaria has remained positive at 2.4%, but has decreased in comparison to 1998, mainly as a result of the Kosovo and Russian crises. Slovakia's growth rate has decreased to 1.9%. The negative effects of Russian crisis has continued to influence the growth rates of three other countries: Latvia at 0.1%, Estonia at -1.1%, and Lithuania at -4.1%. The insufficiency of structural reforms together with the on-going effect of the Kosovo crisis in Romania have led again to negative growth at -3.2%. The devastating earthquake and the Russian crisis have affected Turkey whose growth has turned to be negative at -5.0%. Recession has come to an end in the Czech Republic with only -0.2% negative growth in 1999. The main statistical indicators are set out in Annex 2.

Growth has turned positive and has increased in all candidate countries in the first half of this year compared to the same period in 1999, ranging from around 2% in Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia to around 6% in Estonia, Hungary, Turkey and Poland. Growth rates for Bulgaria, Latvia, Slovenia, Malta and the Czech Republic range from just over 3% to just over 5 %.

Macroeconomic conditions have remained sound in most countries, but performance on current account deficits, inflation and fiscal balances is still uneven.

In 1999, with the exception of Romania and Turkey, where inflation rates were 45.8% and 64.9%, respectively, inflation has remained under control in the candidate countries with rates close to the average of 10% or lower. However, in Hungary and Poland the slow pace of disinflation remains a cause of concern. Particular attention needs to be paid to the relative large current account deficits in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Current account balances have improved in Cyprus, Estonia, Romania and Slovakia, and worsened in Bulgaria and Slovenia, even though they have remained restrained. The current account deficits have to a large extent been financed by capital inflows connected with privatisation, but green-field investments are increasing as well in a number of countries. Although efforts have been made in most candidate countries to stabilise general government balances in the reporting period, the sustainability of public finances remains a cause of concern in almost all candidate countries, albeit to different degrees.

The privatisation of large enterprises has further progressed in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Estonia and Bulgaria and less so in Latvia. In Poland, the pace of privatisation has been very strong, although restructuring is at an early stage in the steel and agriculture sectors. Good progress has been achieved on the privatisation of banks in the Czech republic, Bulgaria, Latvia, Malta and Slovakia. Progress has been made also in the areas of energy supply and telecommunications. However, in a number of countries, privatisation has facilitated the emergence of a new business elite often stemming from the old nomenclatura. Efforts should be made to increase further the transparency of the privatisation process.

Unemployment has increased significantly in most candidate countries, both in terms of the registered unemployment rates and if measured according to the definitions of the International Labour Organisation. In most countries, this is still the result of economic restructuring together with the fall in growth due to external crises. In countries such as Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia, where the unemployment rate is relatively high, structural reforms are providing a sound basis for economic growth and employment creation in the future. In Hungary and Slovenia, unemployment rates have decreased this year to 7% and 7.6%, respectively. Cyprus and Malta have relatively low rates at 3.6% and 5.3% respectively. Efforts need to be made in all countries to improve the response of the labour markets to growth opportunities, by increasing labour flexibility and mobility. Once the most painful reforms and restructuring, associated with large employment losses, have been completed, positive net job creation relating to new economic activity could start to reduce unemployment as witnessed in Hungary.

The overall volume of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the Central and Eastern European candidate countries continued to increase in 1999. Net inflows were higher than 3% of GDP in most countries, with sharp increases in Slovakia (from 2.8 to 3.7% of GDP), in the Czech Republic (from 4.5% to 9.1%) and in Bulgaria (from 2.8 to 6.1%). The stock of FDI per capita built up since 1989 is still the highest in Hungary, followed by the Czech Republic and Estonia. A high level of investment remains essential to further restructure and modernise the economies of all the Central and Eastern European candidate countries as well as Turkey. In Turkey, FDI inflows have been particularly low since the early 1980s, reflecting a relatively high degree of economic volatility. As a result, the stock of FDI per capita is significantly lower than in most other candidate countries. Cyprus and Malta continue to have much higher levels of FDI per capita.

As investors need a stable, predictable and supportive legal and regulatory framework in order to make long-term investments, candidate countries should complete reforms in this area making improvements whenever needed. They should also make substantial efforts to fight against corruption and to establish a transparent business environment. Domestic investments, in particular for small and medium-sized enterprises, are still hampered by the low level of financial intermediation. In general the financial sector is still underdeveloped and particular attention should be given to completing the regulatory, prudential and supervision framework to provide a sound basis for its future expansion. The banking sector continues to be the most advanced part of the financial sector and its performance has improved, however there are still deficiencies in the delivery of services throughout the economy.

The European Union is, by far, the most important trading partner of the thirteen candidate countries. Between 1993 and 1999 the total value of trade has increased almost threefold to €210 billion. At 13.7% of total trade, the candidate countries together are the EU's second trade partner after the US. The EU's trade surplus with the candidate countries has diminished significantly in 1999, but still was €25,8 billion, of which 45% stems from trade with Poland and 20% with Turkey. It has more than compensated the EU's overall trade deficit (€13.7 billion, which corresponds with roughly 0.2% of EU GDP.). Trade integration of Central and Eastern European candidate countries with the EU has continued to increase. The highest shares are to be found in Hungary, with 64.4% of its imports coming from the EU and 76.2% of its exports going to the EU, and in Estonia, with 65% and 72.7%, respectively. Trade integration has further increased with the other countries, including with those which had the lowest shares in 1998, such as Latvia and Lithuania. An initial analysis of trade figures for the first six months in 2000 confirms the general pattern, with an overall increase of trade of some 26 % (for imports and exports) with the 13 candidate countries.

The free trade provisions established by the Europe Agreements with the ten Central and Eastern European countries have clearly paved the way for economic integration with the EU. The additional agricultural Protocols recently agreed in the framework of the Europe Agreements represent a major step forward which will further enhance trade relations between the EU and Central and Eastern European countries (see above under "Association Agreements"). Negotiations will continue in order to broaden the scope of the agricultural bilateral trade concessions.

As announced in last year's composite paper, the situation regarding the application of competition, state aids and internal market rules in each candidate country has been reviewed by the Commission during 2000, including in the context of the accession negotiations. That examination has shown that progress is not yet sufficient so as to recommend that the EU refrain from using commercial defence instruments for industrial products. The Commission will continue to review this matter.

b) Conclusions

The progress of each country has been assessed according to the sub-criteria of the Copenhagen economic criteria - the existence of a functioning market economy and the capacity to withstand competitive pressure and market forces within the Union. These sub-criteria were more precisely defined in the Commission Communication on Agenda 2000:

The existence of a functioning market economy requires that prices, as well as trade, are liberalised and that an enforceable legal system, including property rights, is in place. Macroeconomic stability and consensus about economic policy enhance the performance of a market economy. A well-developed financial sector and the absence of any significant barriers to market entry and exit improve the efficiency of the economy.

The second criterion ('capacity to withstand competitive pressure and market forces within the Union') depends on the existence of a market economy and a stable macroeconomic framework, allowing economic agents to make decisions in a climate of predictability. It also requires a sufficient amount of human and physical capital, including infrastructure. State enterprises need to be restructured and all enterprises need to invest to improve their efficiency. Furthermore, the more access enterprises have to outside finance and the more successful they are at restructuring and innovating, the greater will be their capacity to adapt. Overall, an economy will be better able to take on the obligations of membership the higher the degree of economic integration it achieves with the Union prior to accession. Both the volume and the range of products traded with EU Member States provide evidence of this.

Taking the two criteria together, it can be said that Cyprus and Malta are functioning market economies and should be able to cope with competitive pressure and market forces in the Union. Estonia, Hungary and Poland are functioning market economies and should be able to meet the second criterion in the near term provided they maintain their current reform path. The Czech Republic and Slovenia can be regarded as functioning market economies and should be able also to meet the second criterion in the near term, provided that they complete and implement remaining reforms. Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia can be regarded as functioning market economies and should be able to meet the second criterion in the medium term, provided that they implement current structural reform programmes and undertake further reforms where necessary. Bulgaria does not meet either criterion but has clearly made further progress towards this objective. Romania has made too limited progress towards meeting the criteria. Turkey should continue to improve the functioning of markets and to enhance its competitiveness in order to meet the criteria.

The detailed conclusions on the fulfillment of each sub criterion in each regular Report can be found in Annex 1.

3. Other obligations of Membership

The Copenhagen European Council indicated that membership requires 'the ability to take on the obligations of membership, including adherence to the aims of political, economic and monetary union'.

a) Adoption, implementation and enforcement of the acquis

The ability to take on the obligations of membership requires the adoption, implementation and enforcement of the acquis. The European Council of Madrid highlighted the importance not only of incorporating the acquis into national legislation, but also of ensuring its effective application through appropriate administrative and judicial structures. This is a key aspect of preparation for membership. Its importance was recalled by the European Council of Santa Maria da Feira which stated: 'in addition to finding solutions to the negotiating issues, progress in the negotiations depends (...) especially on candidate states' capacity to effectively implement and enforce the acquis. This calls for important efforts by the candidates to continue their domestic reforms, in particular strengthening their administrative and judicial structures'.

In order to effectively implement and enforce the acquis, existing structures need to be strengthened and new institutions created, for which the appropriate human and financial resources need to be made available. The NPAAs are crucial in this regard. Despite progress in the adoption of the acquis, the candidates' capacity to implement and enforce it properly remains inadequate, in many cases because of weak administrative structures.

Acquis preparation and implementation is not only a matter for government and administration but also for business, regional and local bodies and professional organisations. The European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions have called for the closer involvement of civil society in this process. The candidate countries' national authorities need to enhance dialogue with representative institutions to explain the acquis and to facilitate its country-wide adoption and implementation.

b) Country overview

Overall, since the last Regular Reports, the adoption of legislation for alignment with the acquis has proceeded well in most candidate countries. In contrast, progress in setting up and strengthening the institutions required to implement and enforce the acquis has been uneven. The conclusions of the Regular Reports, country by country, are contained in Annex 1.

c) Sector overview

The acquis, like national legislation, evolves to meet changing needs and requirements in areas such as telecommunications, electronic commerce, environmental or maritime safety protection. In most cases, the new acquis builds on the existing one. Candidate countries should not, therefore, delay adoption of current acquis in areas where new texts are under preparation. The adoption and implementation of the existing acquis will facilitate any subsequent adaptation.

Significant progress in alignment with the internal market acquis can be reported for most candidate countries, in particular in the field of standardisation and certification. The same efforts have not been made yet in market surveillance. Most countries have made good progress in the fields of services, capital movement and company law.

Notable achievements in legislative terms were made in several countries as regards intellectual and industrial property protection. However, enforcement remains a problem in many countries, where the fight against piracy and counterfeiting should be strengthened. Additional efforts are also needed in the field of public procurement. While progress has continued in the competition acquis, serious efforts should be made as regards state aids control, which remains a cause for concern in several countries. Another area of concern is customs where significant efforts are needed for both acquis alignment and implementation.

In the agriculture sector, several candidates have made significant progress as regards the adoption and implementation of the acquis and the convergence of current national policies with the Common Agricultural Policy, although candidate countries do not have to introduce common market organisation policy instruments before accession.. Nonetheless much remains to be accomplished as regards structural reforms (e.g. farm size, processing sector, marketing channels, land market). They should be initiated and conducted as a matter of priority in countries where they are most needed such as Poland and Romania. In the veterinary and phytosanitary sectors, although progress can be noted for several candidates as well, efforts should be speeded up to align with this important acquis well before accession. In the area of food safety, the candidates need to ensure coherent transposition, implementation and controls throughout the whole food chain.

In the transport sector, good progress has been made in a number of candidate countries. An issue of concern remains maritime safety in several countries with shipping relevance. Whilst important steps have been taken in some of them, these do not always correspond to the most pressing needs. It is all the more essential for the countries concerned that serious efforts be made as the current maritime safety acquis is likely to be reinforced in the near future as in the air and railway transport sectors.

With a few exceptions, adoption of the acquis continues to be slow in the social policy and employment sector, including social dialogue. Social cohesion is at risk if progress is not made in these areas in parallel with reforms and acquis adoption in the other parts of this field. It is, therefore, essential that candidate countries accelerate their efforts.

In the energy sector certain progress has been made in candidate countries. It is however necessary that preparations continue vigorously particularly as concerns the internal energy market (electricity and gas directives). New acquis is expected in these areas after the Lisbon European Council's call for speeding up of liberalisation, aiming at achieving a fully operational internal market.

As concerns nuclear safety, successive European Councils have recalled the need to ensure a high level of nuclear safety. The Helsinki Summit called on the Council to consider how to address the issue of nuclear safety in the framework of the enlargement process 'in accordance with the relevant Council decisions'. The Commission is fully supporting this ongoing work. Moreover, the Commission continues to monitor actively the effective implementation of the closure commitments as regards certain nuclear reactors in Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia qualified as non-upgradable at reasonable costs.

In contrast to last year, the transposition of environment acquis has started to progress faster in a number of countries. Much remains to be done however for both acquis alignment and implementation capacity. Efforts are needed in particular in the areas of water, industrial pollution control, chemicals and nature protection, where all countries would need to put more administrative resources into the acquis transposition. The ongoing work to prepare specific implementation programmes with corresponding financial plans needs to be accelerated.

Steady progress has been made in most candidate countries in the field of justice and home affairs. New legislation has been introduced in several countries on visa policy, asylum and rules of admission of third countries' citizens. Nevertheless, more attention should be paid, on the one hand, to border management where much remains to be done to ensure that the future EU's external borders will be managed according to the Union's standards and, on the other hand, to judicial co-operation in penal matters, especially corruption, where new legislation and international conventions need to be translated into efficient administrative arrangements. Furthermore, important efforts remain to be made to ensure that the acquis is acted upon including through the setting up of specialized administrative bodies and vocational training of officials.

The candidate countries have continued to align themselves with the common foreign and security policy of the Union, in particular by joining the EU's common positions. They continue to participate in political dialogue.

d) EMU and the Euro

Economic and monetary union, EMU, is an integral part of the acquis. However, a clear distinction should be made between participation in EMU - compulsory for all Member States - and participation in the euro zone. Candidate countries are not expected to adopt the euro directly upon accession. Convergence criteria are not accession criteria. In the run up to accession, the candidates should concentrate primarily on furthering the process of structural, and economic reform while developing the administrative capacity. Participation in the euro zone can only be the final step in what has been, and will remain, a lengthy and successful process of economic integration with the EU.

The process of adopting the euro for candidate countries will consist of three stages: first, the current pre-accession phase during which progress in the transition to well functioning market economies and competitiveness has to be completed, made irreversible, and in which macroeconomic stability must be made sustainable; second, an intermediary phase between accession and the adoption of the euro, where full participation in the Single Market is taking place together with progressive monetary integration towards the euro zone and through participation, at some point, in the exchange rate mechanism; and last, the participation in the euro zone.

For new Member States, as for initial participants in the euro zone, adoption of the euro will be decided following the examination of the achievement of a high degree of sustainable convergence, according to the procedure provided in article 121 of the EC Treaty.

Candidate countries should therefore concentrate, at this stage, on how to meet fully the Copenhagen economic criteria. As regards the pre-accession EMU acquis, substantial efforts are presently needed in Romania, Slovakia and Turkey and to a lesser extent in Cyprus to align legislation. The other candidate countries are either in line with this part of the acquis to a large extent, or have made significant progress in their alignment.

1. Progress to date

The negotiations opened on 31 March 1998 with Cyprus, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia, and on 15 February 2000 with Malta, Romania, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania and Bulgaria.

In accordance with the guidelines for the negotiations approved by the Luxembourg European Council and confirmed by the Helsinki European Council, each candidate proceeds at its own pace, depending on its degree of preparedness.  Each candidate is assessed on its own merits and will join the European Union when it is able to meet the obligations of membership.

The negotiations are conducted in bilateral accession conferences between the member states and each applicant. The acquis has been divided into 31 chapters for the negotiations.

The first round of negotiations was held on 10 November 1998 with Cyprus, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia. The first round of negotiations was held on 14 June 2000 with Malta, Romania, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania and Bulgaria.

After two years of negotiation with the six first countries, 29 chapters (all chapters dealing with the acquis except 'institutional questions' and 'other questions') have been opened and 11 to 16 chapters have been provisionally closed. By the end of this year, up to 17 chapters may have been opened with the countries which started negotiations in 2000 and 7 to 11 chapters may have been provisionally closed.

Provisional closure depends on credible commitments concerning the alignment of legislation with the acquis and the administrative capacity to apply it properly. Such commitments are monitored closely by the Commission. So far, this has not led it to recommend the reopening of any chapters. Certain chapters remain open in the absence of sufficient commitments or because of requests for transitional measures.

The negotiations follow the principle of differentiation and give a possibility for those countries that joined the negotiations at a later stage to catch up.

2. Towards the conclusion of the negotiations

On the basis of the progress made to date, the Commission considers that the time has come to outline a strategy to take the negotiations into a more substantial phase and point the way towards their conclusion. This strategy would enable the member states and the candidates to take up in the accession conferences the key issues which need to be resolved to bring the negotiations to a satisfactory conclusion.

The main elements of the strategy put forward in detail below are:

  • An invitation to the member states and the candidates to take up in the negotiations the substantial issues raised by requests for transitional measures
  • An analysis of such requests, distinguishing between cases that the Commission considers to be acceptable, negotiable or unacceptable
  • A detailed road map providing a clear sequence for tackling these issues in the course of 2001 and 2002
  • A proposal to facilitate negotiations by 'setting-aside' chapters with a limited number of remaining problems
  • An indication of the time needed to complete the negotiations

This strategy is based on the principles laid down at the outset of the negotiations and the progress already achieved. It would confirm the Union's determination to inject new momentum into the negotiations and to move them forward according to an ambitious but realistic timetable. This will encourage the candidates to intensify their preparations and enhance confidence in the accession process.

a) Transitional measures

Accession negotiations are based on the principle that candidates accept the acquis and apply it effectively upon accession. Transitional measures, whereby the application of part of the acquis is delayed for a specified period, are accepted only in well-justified cases. The Commission has registered, up to now, over 170 requests for transitional measures from candidates in fields other than agriculture, and over 340 requests in agriculture.

The general position, which the Union presented to the candidates at the outset of the negotiations, stated that their acceptance of the acquis 'may give rise to technical adjustments, and exceptionally to transitional measures. Such transitional measures shall be limited in time and scope, and accompanied by a plan with clearly defined stages for application of the acquis. They must not involve amendments to the rules or policies of the Union, disrupt their proper functioning, or lead to significant distortions of competition. In this connection, account must be taken of the interests of the Union, the applicant country and the other applicant states'.

The Commission expressed the view in last year's Composite Paper that 'for the areas linked to the extension of the single market, regulatory measures could be implemented quickly. Any transition periods should therefore be few and short. For those areas of the acquis where considerable adaptations are necessary and which require substantial effort, including important financial outlays in areas such as environment, energy and infrastructure, transition arrangements could be spread over a definite period of time, provided candidates can demonstrate that alignment is under way and that they are committed to detailed and realistic plans for alignment, including the necessary investments'.

The Commission will base its assessment of the candidate's requests on these criteria. The analysis will be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the country's interests and the likely impact of each request on the functioning of the Union and the interests of the other applicant states. The acceptance of a transitional measure in one case will not constitute a precedent for others. Similarly, transitional measures granted in previous accessions do not necessarily create a precedent for the present negotiations.

In preparing common positions, in response to the candidate's requests, the Commission will distinguish between three cases:

1) Acceptable. This category includes transitional measures of a technical nature that pose no significant problems. The Commission has, since September 2000, been examining favourably requests for transitional measures that are limited in time and scope, and are considered not to have a significant impact on competition or the functioning of the internal market. Acceptance of this type of request has already advanced negotiations in certain chapters, and will continue to do so.

2) Negotiable. This category includes those requests with a more significant impact, in terms of competition or the internal market, or in time and scope. The Commission may recommend that transitional measures can be accepted in this category, under certain conditions and within a certain time horizon. Acceptance may be conditional on the implementation of other parts of the acquis without transitional measures or on commitment to well-defined plans for implementation and investment.

Requests in this category will be examined taking into account not only competition and the single market, but also, as appropriate, effects on the economy, health, safety, the environment, consumers, citizens, other common policies and the Community budget.

3) Unacceptable. Requests for transitional measures posing fundamental problems will not be accepted

By classifying certain requests as 'negotiable', the Commission does not imply that it will recommend their acceptance, in whole or part, but rather that a solution may be found under certain conditions.

The Commission reserves the possibility, where appropriate, to propose transitional measures in the interest of the Union.

b) A road map for the negotiations

In order to advance the negotiations on the basis of the existing principles and following the methodology for handling transitional measures outlined above, the Commission proposes a 'road map', in the form of a sequenced approach to the chapters in the negotiations. The Commission suggests that the accession conferences take up as far as possible, in the course of 2001, most outstanding substantial issues in the negotiations, except those with the greatest budgetary implications. These, together with the 'institutional' chapter and remaining unresolved issues, would be addressed in the first half of 2002.

The suggested priority schedules proposed below would permit the negotiations to progress on chapters that remain open, notably because of requests for transitional measures. This schedule is indicative and could, in a number of cases, be brought forward when the preparedness of a candidate country so permits: as witnessed by the actual state of negotiations some of the chapters listed below have already been provisionally closed with some of the candidate countries and it may be possible to close other chapters provisionally earlier than envisaged. Conversely, the schedule may not necessarily be realized for all candidates on all chapters in the given time periods. This approach maintains the principle of differentiation and should permit negotiations with well-prepared countries to advance rapidly.

The road map identifies priorities for the negotiations for the next three semesters. The identification of priorities is based on an analysis of the Commission as to the possibilities to advance with negotiations in certain fields. The proposal would be to move forward early on a number of internal market related matters, to progress with social matters and to push for an ambitious programme related to environment in the first semester, whilst concentrating on provisional closure for chapters needing a longer preparation period in the second semester. The timing is also conditioned on an evaluation of the respective efforts needed to come to definitive answers on the transition periods and to produce detailed and realistic alignment and investment schedules.

The progress of negotiations and the provisional closure of negotiations on chapters will depend on all parties making the necessary contributions. The aim of the 'road map' is to ensure that all parties to the negotiations commit themselves to a realistic timetable. The Commission undertakes, where this is feasible, to make the necessary proposals for chapters remaining open in time to permit the Council to formulate common positions to present to the candidates according to this schedule. It invites member states to be ready to formulate their negotiating positions on the substantial issues at stake in particular chapters, at the latest in the period indicated by the schedules. Candidate countries should also be prepared to give the necessary substantive replies and commitments in this period.

In cases where a chapter cannot be provisionally closed, but the number of remaining problems is very limited, the Commission would propose to modify the approach taken up to now. Instead of leaving such a chapter on the negotiating table, the chapter could be 'set aside' with the mention that it will be revisited in order to find a solution to the few remaining issues at the appropriate moment. This would reduce considerably the number of open chapters and identify more clearly the problems remaining to be resolved.

The road map refers essentially to chapters in which the candidates have requested transitional measures. Certain chapters might need to be identified in addition as the negotiations progress. In line with the approach to introduce a 'road map', the Commission proposes also to adapt the approach to opening chapters (see below) to permit well prepared candidate countries which started negotiations this year to catch up.

Monitoringwill continue for all chapters, to establish whether commitments concerning the adoption and implementation of the acquis have been fulfilled. Where the actual enforcement track record of each candidate is considered to be primordial for the definitive closure of the chapter, such as in the field of competition, the monitoring process may be reinforced and the Commission reserves the right to recommend the re-opening of the relevant chapter.

Priority schedule for the first half of 2001

In this period, the Union would have as its priority to define common positions, including positions on requests for transitional measures, with a view to closing provisionally the following chapters:

Free movement of goods
Free movement of persons
Freedom to provide services
Free movement of capital
Company law
Culture and audio-visual policy
Social policy and employment
Environment
External Relations

Issues of substance to be considered in this period include, for example, co-ordination of social security schemes; recognition of diplomas; land acquisition; pharmaceuticals; freedom of movement for workers; health and safety at work; quality of water; pollution and treatment of waste; preferential trade regimes etc. as well as general questions related to the capacity to implement and enforce the Community acquis.

Priority schedule for the second half of 2001

In addition to any element not yet addressed in the previous period, the Union would have as its priority, in this period, to define common positions, including positions on requests for transitional measures, with a view to closing provisionally the following chapters:

Competition policy
Transport policy
Energy
Taxation
Customs union
Agriculture (in particular veterinary and phytosanitary questions)
Fisheries
Justice and home affairs
Financial Control

Issues of substance to be considered in this period include, for example, proper implementation and enforcement of state aid legislation; land transport; maritime safety; internal gas and electricity markets; nuclear safety; Customs Code; VAT; excise duties; food safety; visa policy; Schengen acquis etc. as well as general questions related to the capacity to implement and enforce the Community acquis.

Priority schedule for the first half of 2002

In this period, the Union would concentrate on any important questions from other chapters for which solutions have not yet been found and define common positions, including positions on all requests for transitional measures, with a view to closing provisionally the remaining chapters:

Agriculture (remaining questions)
Regional policy and structural instruments
Financial and budgetary provisions
Institutions
Other matters

c) Opening of remaining chapters

Over half the chapters will have been opened by the end of this year with the best prepared countries with which negotiations began in 2000. The European Council of Santa Maria da Feira considered that "it should be feasible to open negotiations in all areas of the acquis with the most advanced of these countries as early as possible in 2001".

In view of this objective, the Commission recommends that Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania and Slovakia should rapidly prepare position papers on those chapters where they consider to be ready for negotiations, basing themselves also on the analysis put forward in the Regular Reports and the road map outlined above. These position papers should be ready in time for the Commission to be able to present draft common positions early next year.

The Commission recalls that real progress in the negotiations depends more on the quality of preparations made by each candidate than on the number of chapters opened. The Commission will therefore base its assessment on whether a chapter should be opened and a draft common position prepared on the substance of each position paper presented.

3. Prospects for concluding the negotiations

The proposed strategy for the accession negotiations, combined with the recommendations concerning priorities for each candidate set out in the Accession Partnerships, gives a clear perspective for future accessions. The approach set out above should make it possible to attain the objectives set out by the European Council, the European Parliament and the Commission in a number of key declarations.

The Helsinki European Council declared in December 1999 that, provided the necessary institutional reform is in place, the Union 'should be in a position to welcome new member states from the end of 2002 as soon as they have demonstrated their ability to assume the obligations of membership, and once the negotiating process has been successfully completed'.

The European Parliament, in its resolution in October 2000, called for member states and candidate countries to 'do everything in their power to ensure that the European Parliament can give its assent to the first accession treaties before the European Parliament elections in 2004, in order that these countries might have the prospect of participating in those elections'.

The Commission maintains the view expressed in its 1999 Composite Paper, that it should be possible to conclude negotiations with the most advanced candidate countries in 2002.

The three conditions for accomplishing the first accessions are the financial framework, institutional reform, and the conclusion of negotiations with those candidates who fulfil all the criteria for membership:

  • As to the financial conditions, the approach envisaged by the Commission should allow the Union to stay within the framework decided by the Berlin European Council.
  • Concerning institutional reform, the Commission urges the European Council to take the necessary decisions at its forthcoming meeting in Nice.
  • Concerning the accession negotiations and preparations for membership, the Commission considers that if the strategy outlined in this document is effectively pursued, the conditions will be created whereby negotiations can be concluded in the course of 2002 with those candidate countries who fulfil all the criteria for membership, thus putting the Union in a position to welcome new Member States from the end of 2002.

In the light of the above the Commission recommends to the European Council to conclude that :

  • accession negotiations should progress following the indicative priority schedules for 2001 and 2002 contained in the proposed 'road map', whereby all requests for transitional measures and other outstanding issues will be addressed by the Union with the most advanced countries at the latest by June 2002;
  • the "road map" will allow to address requests for transitional measures which are acceptable or negotiable and may include transition measures in the interests of the Union;
  • to permit further progress in the accession negotiations when a limited number of problems cannot be solved rapidly, these will be 'set aside' to be revisited later, thus facilitating a clear identification of outstanding issues and permitting the corresponding chapters to be provisionally closed;
  • while maintaining the principle of differentiation, this approach should permit the conclusion of negotiations in the course of 2002 with those candidate countries who fulfill all the criteria for membership, thus putting the Union in a position to welcome new Member States from the end of 2002;
  • Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania and Slovakia should prepare their position papers on those chapters where they consider to be ready for negotiation, taking into account their state of preparation and the proposed 'road map'. On this basis, the Commission will assess whether the opening of these chapters to negotiation can be recommended. This should allow the most advanced candidates to open negotiations in all areas of the acquis as early as possible in 2001 ;
  • incorporation of the acquis by the candidate States in their legislation, and adaptation of their capacity effectively to implement and enforce it, remain the key conditions for progressing in the negotiations. The Commission will thus continue to monitor negotiating countries' commitments ;
  • the Accession Partnerships remain the central pre-accession strategy instruments. Short-term priorities of the 1999 Partnerships not fully met yet should be implemented rapidly whilst the medium-term priorities are applicable. They will form the basis for programming pre-accession assistance in 2001 ;
  • negotiations for further additional reciprocal trade concessions in the field of agricultural products should be launched in the framework of the Europe Agreements, with a view to enhancing trade relations and to preparing for accession in this important area ;
  • to facilitate the participation of all candidate countries in the Community programmes, framework decisions should be adopted for Central and Eastern European countries and bilateral agreements concluded with Cyprus, Malta and Turkey ;
  • although Turkey does not yet meet the conditions for opening negotiations, the following actions are necessary in order to implement the pre-accession strategy :
  • continuing political dialogue, in line with the Helsinki European Council conclusions ;
  • monitoring the implementation of the Accession Partnership in the context of the Association Agreement mechanisms now in place ;
  • continue preparing the process of analytical examination of the acquis and deciding on further steps after reporting to the European Council on progress achieved ;
  • preparing a single financial framework for assistance as soon as possible ;
  • preparing a bilateral agreement for facilitating its participation in Community programmes;
  • the European Conference should continue to be used as the framework for discussing the future of the Union with the candidate countries ;
  • the Commission's proposed communication strategy should be implemented as a matter of priority in order to allay fears of enlargement, to inform about its benefits and to win over citizens' support.

Annexes

Annex 1 Conclusions of the Regular Reports
Annex 2 Main statistical indicators (1999)
Annex 3 Human Rights conventions ratified by the candidate countries
Annex 4 Twinning projects financed in 1998-2000

 Download Annexes here.


2. Regular  Reports 2000 for each Candidate Country

PDF format

EN

FR

DE

Bulgaria

 466kb 520kb 511kb
Cyprus
 462kb 494kb 490kb
Czech Republic
 531kb 562kb 579kb
Estonia
 453kb 496kb 493kb
Latvia
 522kb 572kb 553kb
Lithuania
 488kb 530kb 532kb
Hungary
 444kb 467kb 498kb
Poland
 459kb 489kb 499kb
Romania
 469kb 504kb 517kb
Slovakia
 431kb 466kb 482kb
Slovenia
 440kb 486kb 480kb
Malta
 333kb 358kb 355kb

Turkey

 363kb 391kb 380kb

 
Top
 
Print Version
White line