Western Balkans

A gradual and carefully managed enlargement policy is in the interest of the EU. Future enlargements will concern the countries of south-eastern Europe. These countries are at various stages on their road towards the EU.

Croatia and Turkey are candidate countries. They started accession negotiations on 3 October 2005. In December 2005, the European Council granted the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia the status of a candidate country; accession negotiations have not started.

All the other Western Balkan countries are potential candidate countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia including Kosovo under UN Security Council Resolution 1244. The EU has repeatedly reaffirmed at the highest level its commitment for eventual EU membership of the Western Balkan countries, provided they fulfil the accession criteria.

A new Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA) aims to provide targeted pre-accession assistance both to candidate countries and to potential candidates.

The Commission prepares every year Progress Reports on each country. These reports describe the political and economic developments in the candidate and potential candidate countries. They assess the ability of the candidate countries to transpose and implement EU legislation and the progress of the potential candidate countries in adopting EU standards and in fulfilling other specific conditions, such as regional cooperation and cooperation with the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia). They highlight the main achievements and pinpoint the shortcomings.

To establish a clear framework for the enlargement policy, the Commission also adopted a strategy document on the way ahead, including a special report on the Union’s absorption capacity, as requested by the European Council in June 2006.

Each year, alongside the Enlargement Stategy and Progress Reports, the Commission will present a multi-annual indicative financial framework (MIFF ). This will provide information on the Commission's intentions in terms of indicative financial allocations for each country and for Kosovo (UNSCR 1244) and the five IPA components (transition assistance and institution building; cross-border cooperation; regional development; human resources development; and rural development). The MIFF takes the form of a financial table covering a three year period. It forms the link between the political framework and the budgetary process.

OSCE activities in its three dimensions throughout the region are supportive of the EU’s objective. The OSCE Presence in Albania promotes Democratization, Rule of Law and Human Rights, as well as works on the consolidation of democratic institutions in conformity with OSCE principles, standards and commitments. The OSCE Mission to Bosnia Herzegovina posseses a broad mandate which covers the categories of Education, Democratization, Human Rights, and Security Co-operation. The OSCE Mission to Croatia assists and advises the Government and other relevant groups of the society in the fields of Democratization, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law, as well as supports the consolidation of internal peace, and assists political normalization. The OSCE Mission to Montenegro supports the reform processes, which are needed to achieve the strategic goal of European and Euro-Atlantic integration. The OSCE Mission to Serbia provides assistance and expertise in the fields of Democratization, protection of Human Rights and Minorities, and Media Development. The OSCE Mission to Kosovo has the lead role in matters relating to Institution- and Democracy-Building, Human Rights and Rule of Law. The OSCE Spillover Monitor Mission to Skopje assists the Government in the fields of Strengthening the Institutions of local self-government, promotion of Rule of Law and Media Development, implementation of the Framework Agreement in the area of inter-ethnic relations.

The EU and the OSCE cooperate closely through the regular exchange of information on developments in the region msw8 - 60 KB [60 KB] , including through the EU Special Representatives to Bosnia-Herzegovina, to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, to the Kosovo future status process.

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