The EU enlargement process provides a major opportunity for the protection of the environment. Compliance with the environmental acquis, is a significant challenge for the candidate countries (Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia and Albania) and the potential candidates countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo* ). The perspective of membership offers a framework for development, and provides concrete targets to be achieved.
By their date of accession, candidate countries must be able to effectively apply all EU legislation and policy. During the pre-accession period, the European Commission works with the candidate countries and potential candidates to assist them in adapting their environmental legislation and upgrading their implementation and enforcement capacities in order to meet the EU's environmental protection requirements.
Preparations for membership present three particular challenges for the environmental sector:
Accession Partnership, established in 2001 and successively revised in 2003 and 2008, is the framework for cooperation and negotiation of Turkey's accession to the EU.
The EU’s Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) was launched in 1999 and is the EU framework policy for the countries of South East Europe (except Turkey). In the field of environment it aims to bring about improvements in the medium and longer term through:
Stabilisation and Association Agreements (SAAs)
These agreements are used to support EU policy in the Western Balkans. The agreements with Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia are now in force. An Interim Agreement on trade and trade-related issues has been signed with Bosnia & Herzegovina (June 2008) while the Stabilization and Association Agreement is expected to enter into force in May 2015. The negotiations for the Stabilization and Association Agreement between the EU and Kosovo have been finalised in 2014.