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EU enlargement – next steps - 11/10/2012

Puzzle showing EU circle of stars © EU

Report on 2012 EU enlargement strategy released, with assessments of progress toward EU membership by Croatia, Iceland, Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo.

The EU and its 27 member countries remain committed to widening EU membership, and thereby reinforcing the continent’s peace, security, prosperity and international clout.

The 2012 report on enlargement strategy, covering the Western Balkans, Iceland and Turkey, assesses progress and outlines the reforms those countries must take to join the EU.

The annual monitoring process ensures that aspiring countries are admitted only when they have met all requirements, which have been spelled out in detail.

These include improving political participation, legal standards, public administration, freedom of expression, conditions for socially excluded groups and economic stability.

This year, the Commission is also proposing to help potential candidate countries meet key conditions for accession earlier on in the enlargement process.

State of play

The EU signed an accession treaty with Croatia in December 2011. The country is expected to join the EU on 1 July 2013 and remains on track to fulfil the remaining conditions by then as agreed.

The EU continues to strengthen its ties with Iceland, including in the areas of renewable energy and climate change. Accession negotiations are progressing well.

Turkey needs to make more efforts to meet political and fundamental rights requirements, including those on freedom of expression. Other obligations remain a priority, such as improved relations with the Republic of Cyprus.

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

Albania should be granted candidate status when the country completes key reforms.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has made limited progress in meeting initial EU conditions.

Accession negotiations have been launched with Montenegro and Serbia is now recognised as a candidate country, showing that once reforms are made, the EU delivers on its commitments.

Negotiations with Kosovo (under UN Security Council Resolution 1244/99) on a trade and financial assistance agreement could begin once the country meets key requirements.

Next steps

EU governments will consider the recommendations at their meeting in December 2012 and make decisions about each country moving towards membership. Meanwhile, the Commission will continue to help the countries make the necessary reforms.

More on EU enlargement

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