Croatia enters final phase of accession while Turnkey progresses at slow pace

The European Commission adopted on 9 November its Enlargement Package, presenting the annual assessment of the European Union's enlargement agenda. The package comprised a Strategy paper, the Opinions on the membership applications by Montenegro and Albania and seven Progress Reports on the other candidate countries and potential candidates.

The Lisbon Treaty has allowed to remove some institutional bottlenecks and created the opportunity for the joint implementation of all foreign affairs tools, both CFSP and community tools, so that the enlargement agenda can move forward. In its Enlargement Package, the European Commission reviews the state of negotiations with all candidate and potential candidate countries, and the degree of implementation of the measures proposed for their eventual accession to the European Union.

For the candidates and potential candidates, the tough preparations for membership require a process of profound reform. Numerous challenges remain, among which good governance, the rule of law and freedom of expression are the most important. Full cooperation with the ICTY remains a key condition for the whole accession process of several countries. Constructive diplomacy is needed to prevent bilateral issues from hampering the overall accession process.

Negotiations with Croatia have entered their final phase, while negotiations with Turkey advance, albeit at a slow pace. Accession negotiations with Iceland have been launched and Serbia's EU membership application is being processed. The Commission has presented its Opinions on the membership applications of Albania and Montenegro. The Commission renewed its 2009 recommendation that accession negotiations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia should be opened, and reconfirmed the European perspective for Bosnia Herzegovina and for Kosovo.

Reform efforts in the enlargement countries have already started to bring tangible benefits to their citizens. Citizens of Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina will soon be able to travel visa-free to the EU. Serbia, Montenegro and former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have already been benefiting from visa-free travel for the past year. Across the enlargement region, many economies are being strengthened despite the global crisis; the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms are moving closer to EU levels; and regional cooperation is making significant advances. Peace and stability have been consolidated, benefiting not only the region itself, but Europe as a whole.

Enlargement Package: Candidate and Potential Candidate Status

Candidate Countries

  • Croatia
  • Turkey
  • Iceland
  • Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Potential Candidate Countries

  • Montenegro
  • Albania
  • Serbia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Kosovo