Coordination with EU candidates and potential candidates

Information on the process of joining the EU (accession)


Instrument for pre-accession assistance (IPA)

Financial and technical help for EU reforms in candidate and potential candidate countries.

Treaty on European Union - articles on joining the EU

Provides the legal basis for any European country to join the EU (Article 49) and the values on which the EU is based (Article 2).


  • foster peace and stability in regions close to the EU's borders
  • help improve the quality of people’s lives through integration and cooperation across borders
  • increase prosperity and opportunities for European businesses and citizens 
  • guide, support and monitor changes in countries wishing to join the European Union in line with EU values, laws and standards


During the enlargement process, the Commission helps countries wishing to join the EU to meet the necessary criteria for membership, and supports them in implementing the related economic and democratic reforms.

Results of reforms must be solid, sustainable and irreversible.

Who can join?

Any European country can apply for membership if it respects the EU's democratic values and is committed to promoting them.

A country can only join if it meets all the membership criteria.

How does it work?

There are 3 main stages subject to approval by all EU countries:

When the negotiations and accompanying reforms are completed and agreed by both sides, the country can join the EU – if all EU countries agree.

Candidate countries

Current candidate countries are:

  • Albania
  • Republic of North Macedonia 
  • Montenegro
  • Serbia
  • Turkey

Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo are potential candidates.

Check the current status of countries in the enlargement process