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Any European country that respects the principles of liberty and democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law, may apply to become a member of the EU. However, it will have to apply the "acquis", i.e. the entire body of EU law already in place, including in the area of Home Affairs.
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey are candidate countries and accession negotiations have started with Montenegro and Turkey. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo are potential candidate countries who have been granted the prospect of EU membership as and when they are ready.
To become members of the EU, candidates must adopt the entire body of EU law (acquis). For negotiation purposes, the acquis is divided into chapters. There is a chapter on Justice, Freedom and Security (Chapter 24), which covers migration, asylum, visa policy, external borders and Schengen, judicial cooperation in criminal and civil matters, police cooperation and the fight against organised crime, the fight against terrorism, drugs, customs cooperation and counterfeiting of the euro.
Accession negotiations with Turkey on chapter 24 related to home affairs have not been opened. Nevertheless, the EU regularly monitors the developments of Turkish legislation and administrative capacities in this field through the annual progress reports, and foster them through the financial and technical assistance provided through the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance.
Meanwhile, as requested by the Council Conclusions adopted on 21 June 2012, on 16 December 2013 Commissioner Cecilia Malmström signed the EU-Turkey readmission agreement and, in parallel, started the visa liberalization dialogue between the European Commission and the Turkish authorities.
This dialogue is carried out on the basis of a "Roadmap towards visa-free regime with Turkey" This document sets out a comprehensive list of reforms that Turkey has been asked to implement or areas where it is expected to develop cooperation with the EU, in order to enable the Commission to present the proposal to the Council and to the Parliament to lift the visa obligations currently imposed on Turkish citizens to travel into the Schengen area. The first Commission report on Turkey’s progress in fulfilling the requirements of the visa roadmap was published on 20 October 2014.
On 4 March 2016 the Commission adopted the second report, accompanied by a Commission staff working document, assessing the further progress made by Turkey and indicating the measures remaining to be taken in order to fulfill all the requirements of the roadmap.
The Stabilisation and Association Process is the framework for the EU’s relationship with the Western Balkan countries until their eventual accession. The process helps candidate countries to build their capacity in order to adopt and implement EU law, as well as European and international standards. Stabilisation and Association Agreements are being put in place between the EU and each Western Balkan country and represent a contractual relationship, entailing mutual rights and obligations. They include a chapter on Justice, Freedom and Security.
A key development in EU relations with The candidate and potential candidate countries has been visa liberalisation with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Visa-free travel proved to be a strong incentive for these countries to speed up their reform efforts and has, thereby, helped to advance the accession process for the entire region. While the visa-free regime has fulfilled its purpose of increasing people-to-people contacts between the EU and the Western Balkans, it has also enabled travelers to misuse it to claim asylum in the EU. This issue only affects a reasonably small number of travelers, but the EU has worked with each visa-free state to effectively address the problem of asylum abuse.
The European Commission launched a visa liberalisation dialogue with Kosovo on 19 January 2012 (IP/12/32) and delivered its roadmap for visa liberalisation on 14 June 2012 (IP/12/605). This document sets out a comprehensive list of reforms that Kosovo has been asked to implement to fulfil requirements related to the freedom of movement, such as reintegration and readmission, document security, border/boundary and migration management, asylum, the fight against organised crime and corruption and fundamental rights. The first Commission report on Kosovo’s progress in fulfilling the requirements of the visa roadmap was adopted in February 2013 (IP/13/108); the second on 24 July 2014 (IP/14/871). The Commission will recommend visa-free status for Kosovo citizens once Kosovo will have fulfilled all the requirements set out in its visa roadmap.
The EU provides financial assistance to candidate countries and potential candidates through the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA). Twinning projects are financed in key areas, such as border management, reform of the judiciary, asylum and the fight against organised crime and corruption. A number of Technical Assistance Information Exchange (TAIEX) seminars have been organised on Home Affairs issues.