Countries on the road to EU membership

Croatia is an acceding country.

Iceland, Montenegrothe Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey are candidate countries. Accession negotiations with Montenegro, Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have not started.

The other countries of the Western Balkans - Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo* - have all been promised the prospect of EU membership as and when they are ready. They are known as potential candidates.

With all the countries of the Western Balkans the EU has established a process – known as the Stabilisation and Association process- which aims to bring them progressively closer to the EU. Thanks to this process, these countries already enjoy free access to that of the EU single market for practically all their exports, as well as EU financial support for their reform efforts. The centrepiece of the process is a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (for an example, see agreement between EU and Croatia) which represents a contractual relationship between the EU and each Western Balkan country, entailing mutual rights and obligations. The Stabilisation and Association Agreements focus on respect for key democratic principles and the core elements which are at the heart of the EU single market. Through a free trade area with the EU and the associated disciplines (competition and state aid rules, intellectual property etc) and benefits (e.g. rights of establishment), and through reforms designed to achieve the adoption of EU standards, this process will allow the economies of the region to begin to integrate with that of the EU. Provided the conditions are fulfilled, the Stabilisation and Association Agreements can be completed with all Western Balkan countries in 2008, with agreements either signed or in force.