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Enlargement - state of play - 11/11/2010

Enlargement strategy 2010 and assessments of the progress toward EU membership by Croatia, Iceland, Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo.

Further enlargement remains a political priority for the EU and its 27 member countries. Continued growth will strengthen Europe’s security, peace, economic growth and political clout.

The 2010 report on enlargement strategy, covering the Western Balkans, Iceland and Turkey, assesses the current state of play and how to assist the candidates in achieving the reforms needed for accession.

The EU allocated €11.6bn for 2007-13 to support the preparation process. Benefits already include free access to the EU’s single market for most exports – a crucial lifeline for countries struggling to recover from the effects of the global economic crisis.

Some key challenges remain, like improving legal standards, public administration, freedom of expression and conditions for socially excluded groups.

The countries formed after the break-up of Yugoslavia also need to resolve issues stemming from the conflicts that still beset them.

Regarding Montenegro, the commission recommends that the Council should grant Montenegro the status of candidate country. EU accession negotiations should be opened once the country has achieved the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria. In this regard, the country needs to meet a number of key priorities.

The commission considers that negotiations for EU accession should be opened with Albania once the country has achieved the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria. In this regard, the country needs to meet a number of key priorities.

Meanwhile, Croatia is entering the final phase of accession but still needs to meet standards on judicial independence and fundamental rights.

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia awaits a decision from EU governments on whether to open membership talks.

Serbia applied for EU membership in December 2009. EU governments asked the commission last month to submit an opinion about the application.

On Bosnia and Herzegovina, the commission expressed concern about the slow progress made in adopting the many reforms that are essential for its progress towards the EU. It also emphasised the European perspective of Kosovo and stressed its willingness to help with the many challenges, technical and legislative, that the territory still faces.

Turkey was told that its slow progress in accession negotiations would accelerate as and when it complied with its obligations under the Customs Union with the EU, specifically by opening its ports and airports to traffic from the Republic of Cyprus.

Iceland, which opened accession talks with the EU this year, has the advantage of being a member of the European Economic Area and the border-free Schengen travel agreement.

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