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EU Candidate Countries

The Fifth Enlargement of the EU, which was carried out in two steps (2004-2007), was the best prepared enlargement process of the European Union so far. In 1993, the European Union for the first time fixed precise accession standards. For a country to become an EU member state, it must have achieved a stable democratic system, respect for human rights, the existence of a competitive market economy, and the ability to adopt the acquis communautaire.

Today, the EU carefully monitors the efforts of candidate countries towards meeting these criteria. Careful monitoring of compliance with the conditions for membership and the various forms of financial aid have helped the new members to become well prepared for inclusion in various institutions and the successful implementation of EU provisions.

The EU strongly supports further enlargements. In doing so, the European Union is nevertheless careful, especially when it comes to any sort of new obligations or promises, while at the same time respecting existing obligations and promises given to the countries already involved in the enlargement process. The existing enlargement agenda encompasses the countries of Western Balkans and Turkey. In other words, these countries have already been offered the opportunity to become EU members in the near future.

These countries are at various stages in regard to their approximation to the EU. Currently, three countries have the status of candidate country. Croatia and Turkey started their accession negotiations on 3 October 2005, while the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia became a candidate country in December 2005; accession negotiations have yet to begin.

Further information: European Commission's directorate general for Enlargement


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Date: 28.12.2007