• 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
  • the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
  • Montenegro
  • Serbia
  • Turkey

Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo are potential candidates.

There will be no new EU members in the period of the current Commission, as no partner will be fully ready by the end of 2019.

Check the current status of countries in the enlargement process.


  • EU Enlargement strategy
    Communication10 November 2015

    EU Enlargement strategy

    Recent statement of core challenges and achievements of EU enlargement strategy.