The process of enlargement The process of enlargement

The Process of EU Enlargement

The European Union is currently made up of 28 Member States, while there is an ongoing process for its future enlargement.

At the moment several countries are candidate countries and are waiting to join the EU, while others are potential candidates. Croatia became the 28th Member State of the EU on the 1 July 2013.

Enlargement countries

  • Candidate countries: Montenegro; the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; Albania; Serbia and Turkey.
  • Potential candidates: Bosnia and Herzegovina; Kosovo*.

Enlargement policy

This Commission has introduced a strengthened approach to its assessments in the annual reports. In addition to reporting on progress, much more emphasis is put on the state of play in the countries and where they stand in terms of preparedness for taking on the obligations of membership. At the same time, the reports provide even clearer guidance for what the countries are expected to do in both the short and long term. Harmonised assessment scales are used to assess both the state of play and the level of progress, increasing comparability between the countries.

On the economy, the Commission will consider refining the sub-criteria and parameters for the assessment of the two Copenhagen economic criteria (these require the existence of a functioning market economy as well as the capacity to cope with competitive pressures and market forces within the Union), also taking into account the different challenges and specificities of the current enlargement countries compared to those of the fifth enlargement when the economic sub-criteria were conceived.

Among other things, the annual reports include a statistical annex with key statistical data on the countries. Statistics is one of the areas assessed by the Commission.

Pre-accession financial assistance

The EU provides financial assistance to these countries to help in the joining process. This pre-accession financial assistance is channelled through the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA). A new regulation for IPA was adopted for the period 2014-2020, Regulation (EU) no. 231/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing an Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA II).

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence