Tag Archives: Accession criteria

Kosovo – Towards European integration

Kosovo – Towards European integration

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Kosovo – Towards European integration

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Enlargement > The stabilisation and association process: the western balkans

Kosovo – Towards European integration

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 17 December 2009 – Kosovo – Fulfilling its European Perspective [COM(2009) 534 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

According to the status defined by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244, Kosovo has made progress towards accession to the European Union (EU). Kosovo participates in the EU’s stabilisation and association process for the Western Balkans.

The progress made relates in the first instance to the adaptation of legislation to European standards and the establishment of a viable fiscal framework. However, Kosovo still faces major challenges on political, economic and social levels.

The EU provides technical and financial assistance to support the reforms. Among other things, Kosovo benefits from the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance, the CARDS programme and the Instrument for Stability.

Accelerating reforms

In 2008 and 2009, Kosovo adopted plans for measures corresponding to the objectives of the European Partnership. In particular, the reforms are intended to improve the following:

  • the functioning of the State, the judiciary and public administration;
  • fiscal policy and economic stability;
  • public procurement and the business environment;
  • the fight against corruption, money laundering and organised crime;
  • social cohesion;
  • the protection of minorities, in particular Serbs, and reconciliation between the communities.

Free movement of persons

Kosovo citizens now benefit from simplified procedures for obtaining short-stay visas in EU countries. Visa requirements are to be relaxed further if Kosovo makes progress concerning:

  • readmission arrangements for Kosovo citizens,
  • the fight against organised crime,
  • the security of identity documents,
  • the monitoring of migration and border security.

Kosovo is also to participate in the judicial cooperation work of Europol, Eurojust and Frontex.

Kosovo’s socio-economic development

Kosovo has been relatively little affected by the international economic crisis due to its limited integration into global trade. However, remittances and inflows of foreign investment decreased in 2009. In addition, Kosovo’s budget and trade deficits are considerable.

The EU supports Kosovo in several sectors:

  • trade – the Commission proposes a regime of exceptional trade measures which may be replaced in due time by another preferential regime for products from Kosovo (Pan-Euro-Mediterranean cumulation of origin);
  • macro-economic and fiscal stability – in the context of the EU-Kosovo economic dialogue and Kosovo’s membership of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF);
  • the private sector – to benefit small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and to promote privatisation and innovation;
  • social policies and employment – to strengthen job centres, work incentive and social inclusion schemes. In particular, Kosovo is associated with the European PROGRESS programme;
  • education, training and research – in particular through European student exchange programmes and the 7th Framework Programme for Research;
  • culture and civic life – for the benefit of civil society organisations in particular.

Kosovo’s efforts should be extended to new sectors:

  • energy – in order to privatise the sector, to increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies;
  • transport – to improve the rail and road infrastructure, and with regard to Kosovo’s participation in the European Common Aviation Area;
  • environment – measures should be taken to protect public health (drinking water, air quality, etc.), and to implement European legislation effectively.

Regional cooperation

Kosovo’s cooperation with the other countries of Southern Europe is essential for its commercial development, economic growth and political stability. However, its participation in regional forums remains a sensitive political issue. Similarly, a blockade has been maintained on Kosovo’s exports to Serbia and on transit trade with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Kosovo’s external representation is carried out by UNMIK (United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo).

EU-Kosovo dialogue

Kosovo conducts a regular dialogue with the EU on the themes of innovation, the internal market, good governance, agriculture, the economy and infrastructures.

EU financial assistance

Aid allocated by the EU is targeted to a limited number of priorities. The funding allocated under the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) amounts to EUR 359 million for the period 2007-2009 and EUR 206 million for 2010-2012. These funds are to be used to finance cross-border activities.

Context

Kosovo’s independence has been recognised by 22 out of 27 EU countries. This lack of a shared position does not prevent the EU from adopting measures to support its economic and political development.

In addition, the EU supports Kosovo’s stability through:

  • the presence of a civilian mission in the context of European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP),
  • the appointment of a Special Representative for political reform,
  • the establishment of the European EULEX mission for the rule of law (police, the judiciary and customs).

Enlargement Strategy 2011-2012

Enlargement Strategy 2011-2012

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Enlargement Strategy 2011-2012

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Enlargement > The stabilisation and association process: the western balkans

Enlargement Strategy 2011-2012

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 12 October 2011 – Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2011-2012 [COM(2011) 666 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The enlargement process has entered a new phase, due in particular to the completion of negotiations with Croatia. The country’s accession to the European Union (EU) is planned for mid-2013. In the light of this success, the European Commission intends to put its experience to use in future negotiations with other States.

The Communication assesses the current state of the EU’s enlargement agenda and sets out priorities for its 2011-2012 strategy, as well as the resources that it intends to employ in order to meet its objectives.

Priorities for the 2011-2012 Enlargement Strategy

In the context of its Enlargement Strategy, the Commission recommends:

  • strengthening the rule of law and public administration reform;
  • ensuring freedom of expression in the media;
  • enhancing regional cooperation and reconciliation in the Western Balkans;
  • supporting the economic recovery of candidate or potential candidate countries and including their economies in the Europe 2020 strategy;
  • developing transport and energy networks.

Progress in the Western Balkan countries

Accession negotiations with
Croatia
were completed in June 2011, at which date the country met the access criteria. The Accession Treaty was signed in December 2011. Provided the necessary ratification procedures have been completed, Croatia should therefore become a member of the EU on 1 July 2013.

The
former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
continues to meet the political criteria. The country is currently carrying out reforms of the parliament, the judiciary, and public administration. However, the country needs to make further efforts as regards freedom of expression in the media, and fighting corruption. The Commission reiterates its proposal to open accession negotiations.

Montenegro acquired the status of candidate country in December 2010. Since then, the country has improved its legislative and institutional framework, although it needs to continue to fight corruption and organised crime. The Commission has recommended that accession negotiations be opened.

In Albania, the political stalemate persisted, both before and after the local elections in May 2011. However, dialogue between political forces in Albania was re-established towards the end of the year. The country has made limited progress as regards the political criteria for membership, but has made some progress in fighting organised crime.

Since the October 2010 elections, Bosnia and Herzegovina has not been able to form a national government, and as a result, the implementation of reforms which would allow for progress towards EU membership has been delayed. Governance of the country continues to involve an international presence with an executive mandate.

Regarding Serbia, the Commission has recommended the status of candidate country, it being understood that Serbia would reinitiate dialogue with Pristina and rapidly implement, in good faith, the agreements already concluded. It also proposes to open accession negotiations with Serbia, as soon as it has made further progress in normalising its relations with Pristina. The Commission Opinion notes that Serbia has made much progress in fulfilling the political criteria set by the Copenhagen European Council in 1993. Moreover, the country has put in place a functioning market economy and has reached a certain degree of macroeconomic stability. In the long term, the Commission considers that Serbia should be able to take on the obligations of membership, provided that progress continues.

In Kosovo (in accordance with the statute defined by Resolution 1244 of the United Nations Security Council), the period 2010-2011 was marked by early legislative elections, as well as the appointment of a president in April 2011. In this context, the country has made limited progress in its reform agenda, although progress has been made in trade and the establishment of a National Council for EU Integration. Organised crime and corruption nevertheless remain a concern. However, the Commission proposed the implementation of measures, as laid out in its 2009 Communication, particularly in the areas of visas, trade, and participation in EU programmes.

Progress made by Turkey

The present strategy stresses that Turkey is already integrated to a large extent into the EU in terms of trade and foreign investment through the Customs Union. However, the country needs to maintain its efforts in order to meet the political criteria for accession. It is crucial that fundamental rights are respected, such as freedom of expression, women’s rights and freedom of religion.

On the international stage, Turkey played a key role in the events occurring in North Africa and the Middle East in 2011. However, its relations with Cyprus are still strained. The Commission intends to implement a new positive agenda in order to foster cooperation and dialogue with that country.

Progress made by Iceland

The period 2008-2009 was marked by economic collapse in Iceland. Little by little, the country has been recovering and has maintained some political stability, which has enabled it to continue the EU accession process. Iceland’s level of integration is quite high. The Communication notes satisfactory progress of negotiations between Iceland and the EU.

Support for the enlargement process

The Commission supports the enlargement process through:

  • financial assistance, mainly coming from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) amounting to EU 11.6 billion for 2007-2013;
  • visa-free travel and mobility which drives countries to implement reforms;
  • information and communication to obtain support from public opinion.

Partnership for the accession of Turkey

Partnership for the accession of Turkey

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Partnership for the accession of Turkey

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Enlargement > Ongoing enlargement > Turkey

Partnership for the accession of Turkey

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2008/157/EC of 18 February 2008 on the principles, priorities and conditions contained in the Accession Partnership with the Republic of Turkey and repealing Decision 2006/35/EC.

Summary

The Accession Partnership, which is based on the pre-accession strategy, is the main instrument providing Turkey with guidance in its preparations for accession.

The Helsinki European Council (December 1999) decided to recognise Turkey as an applicant for accession on the basis of criteria equivalent to those applied to the other applicant countries. The accession negotiations were started on 3 October 2005.

The pre-accession strategy combines the frameworks and different instruments relating to the accession process of a new Member State, offering Turkey a coherent accession programme and enabling it to familiarise itself with the European Union’s procedures and policies, notably by giving it the opportunity to participate in Community programmes.

OBJECTIVE

The objective of the Accession Partnership is to incorporate in a single legal framework:

  • the priorities for reform with a view to preparing for accession;
  • guidelines for financial assistance for action in these priority areas;
  • the principles and conditions governing implementation of the Partnership.

The Accession Partnership with Turkey was established in 2001 and has been revised three times (in 2003, 2006 and 2008). It evolves as the country progresses and continues its efforts to prepare for accession.

With a view to achieving the objectives identified in the Accession Partnership, Turkey adopted a national programme for transposing the Community acquis (NPAA), in which it sets out procedures and a programme for implementing action in the priority areas.

PRIORITIES

A distinction is made between short-term priorities, which are expected to be achieved within one to two years, and medium-term priorities, which are expected to be achieved within three to four years. Both are based primarily on Turkey’s ability to comply with:

  • the 1993 Copenhagen Criteria;
  • the negotiation framework adopted on 3 October 2005.

The short and medium-term priorities are:

  • political dialogue, which includes short-term priorities such as: democracy and the rule of law (public service, civilian oversight of security forces, the judicial system and anti-corruption policy), human rights and protection of minorities – which imply that these rights are promoted and respected at national and international level (civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, the situation in the east and southeast, displaced persons) – regional issues and international obligations (Cyprus, peaceful settlement of border disputes, Association Agreement);
  • economic criteria: market liberalisation, the fight against the underground economy, completion of the privatisation programme, improvement of the business climate, competitiveness, sustainability of public finances, budgetary and monetary policies guaranteeing macroeconomic stability, a coordinated economic policy and improvement of health and education levels and infrastructures and the correction of labour market imbalances;
  • ability to assume the obligations of membership, namely the adoption and implementation of the acquis (EU policies and legislation, both primary and secondary).

Evaluation

The Commission regularly evaluates the progress made by Turkey on the priorities set by the Accession Partnership and in the areas in which greater efforts have to be made. Such evaluation covers compliance with the accession criteria, including adoption and enforcement of the acquis. The Accession Partnership is monitored and its implementation evaluated under the Association Agreement between the European Union and Turkey.

FINANCIAL FRAMEWORK

Turkey receives financial assistance under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) for the period 2007?2013. The Multi-annual Indicative Financial Framework for the period 2009?2011 (MIIF) sets out the amount of assistance allocated to Turkey under the IPA: approximately EUR 3 037.9 million (including 2007 and 2008).

Community assistance is subject to compliance with the essential elements governing bilateral relations between Turkey and the EU, the Copenhagen criteria and the priorities defined by the partnership. If these elements are not complied with, the financial assistance may be suspended by the Council.

Turkey is also eligible for funding from the European Investment Bank (EIB) under its external lending mandate for the EU’s south-eastern neighbours.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2008/157/EC 29.2.2008 OJ L 51 of 26.2.2008

Related Acts

Conclusions of the Brussels European Council of 16 and 17 December 2004 (FR ).

The European Council decided to open accession negotiations with Turkey on 3 October 2005.

BILATERAL RELATIONS

EEC?Turkey Association Agreement (1963) [Official Journal No 217 of 29 December 1964].

Additional Protocol to the Agreement establishing an Association between the European Economic Community and Turkey following the enlargement of the European Union [Official Journal L 254 of 30 September 2005].

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

Council Regulation (EC) No 1085/2006 of 17 July 2006 establishing an Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) [OJ L 210 of 31 July 2006].

Multi-annual Indicative Financial Framework (CFIP) for:

  • 2008?2010 [COM(2006) 672 final – Not published in the Official Journal];
  • 2009?2011 [COM(2007) 689 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

EVALUATION

are available on the website of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Enlargement.

This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document.