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19/08/2015

Is it true that states can negotiate for a special status in accession agreement?


The short answer is yes, but only in light of the fact that when a country applies for membership of the European Union it gives a clear sign of its willingness to work within the EU "acquis".

The European Union is based on the rule of law. This means that every action taken by the EU is founded on treaties that all member states have agreed to work after. When a country obtains the status of a Candidate Country, a screening process begins where the EU rules, which are founded on the treaties, are compered to the laws and regulations of the Candidate Country. This maps out in what way the Candidate Country has to amend its laws in order to become a full-fledged member of the EU. This is done in order for the country to be able to adopt, implement and enforce all EU rules upon accession. Thus the accession negotiations usually consist of reforms, which aim at preparing the Candidate Country for taking over the current rules of the EU.

In areas where the Candidate Country has special interests there is a possibility to grant the country a special status in the accession agreement, provided that all member states agree to that solution. The Treaty on European Union (article 49) states that: "The conditions of admission and the adjustments to the Treaties on which the Union is founded, which such admission entails, shall be the subject of an agreement between the Member States and the applicant State."

When the negotiations and accompanying reforms have been completed to the satisfaction of both sides, the country can join the EU. Formally, the state receives membership when the accession agreement has been approved by the Candidate Country (usually through a referendum) and when each member state has accepted the accession of the Candidate Country. The treaties are then adapted upon the accession of the new member state.