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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations

Policy Highlights

The EU's enlargement policy deals with the countries currently aspiring to become members of the European Union. A number of cross-cutting policy issues are of concern to most countries aspiring to join the EU, including:

Rule of Law

The EU is based on the rule of law: every action taken by it is founded on treaties approved voluntarily and democratically by all EU member countries

Freedom of expression and media

Freedom of expression is a key indicator of a country's readiness to become part of the EU

Civil Society

For an aspiring EU member country, a vibrant civil society contributes to fulfilling the conditions for EU membership

Regional cooperation

Regional cooperation is an essential element of stabilisation and association – the process guiding the Western Balkan countries towards EU membership

Common Regional Market

A catalyst for deeper regional economic integration and a stepping stone towards EU Single Market

Economic governance

Fulfilment of the economic criteria is a key requirement for EU membership, as set out in the Copenhagen criteria

SME Performance Review

The EU promotes enterprise policies and industrial strategies designed to boost competitiveness within the Union

There are strict conditions for membership to ensure that new members are admitted only when they are fully able to take on the obligations of EU membership. This includes compliance with all the EU's standards and rules. For the purpose of accession negotiations, these are divided into 35 different policy fields (chapters).