Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Enlarging the EU

Enlarging the EU

We contribute to the enlargement process by defining policy priorities and monitoring the legislative alignment of EU candidate countries to the EU law related to our portfolio.

Overview of the enlargement process 

One of the conditions to be met by countries wishing to join the EU (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Kosovo*, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey) is to align their national legislation to EU law. To facilitate this process, EU law is divided into 35 chapters related to 35 different policy fields. This directorate-general (DG) monitors 5 out of 35 chapters in the following policy areas

  • Chapter 1: free movement of goods
  • Chapter 3: right of establishment and freedom to provide services
  • Chapter 5: public procurement
  • Chapter 7: intellectual property rights
  • Chapter 20: enterprise and industrial policy

'Stabilisation and association agreements' (SAAs) constitute the legal framework of relations between the EU and the enlargement countries. These agreements are adapted to the specific situation of each country. They establish a free trade area between the EU and the country concerned, identify common political and economic objectives, and encourage regional cooperation. They serve as the basis for the implementation of the entry process, whose progress is assessed annually at both technical and political level.

At technical level, progress is assessed in the framework of the stabilisation and association subcommittees. This DG participates in 2 subcommittees: Trade, Industry, Customs and Taxation (TICT) for chapters 1-20, and Internal Market, Competition, Consumer and Health Protection (IMC) for chapters 3, 5 and 7. 

At political level, progress is assessed by the annual progress reports adopted by the European Commission in the framework of the 'enlargement package', to which all DGs contribute in relation to their chapters. This consists of reports on the state of play of the countries in the enlargement process. 

* 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. 

Enlargement countries' integration with our policies

The small business act

All countries implement the small business act (SBA). The SBA is an overarching framework for EU policy on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It aims to improve the approach to entrepreneurship in Europe, simplify the regulatory and policy environment for SMEs, and remove the remaining barriers to their development. Together with DG NEAR, the OECD, the European Training Foundation, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the enlargement countries, this Directorate-General coordinates the SBA assessment in the Western Balkans and Turkey. 

The small business act for Europe

The COSME programme

All Western Balkan countries and Turkey participate in the competitiveness of enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises (COSME) programme. As well as the enlargement countries, Iceland, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine also participate in COSME.

The COSME programme

Related links

The 35 chapters of EU law ('the acquis') from the website of DG NEAR