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European Enlargement and Neighborhood

EU enlargement is a historic step toward the long-cherished goal, supported by all U.S. presidents since Eisenhower, of a Europe that is “whole, free, at peace, and growing in prosperity.”

Any European state that respects liberty, democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law is eligible to apply for EU membership.

Because joining the EU often requires major political and economic reforms within the candidate country, the process moves forward at a pace consistent with the applicant’s ability to take on the obligations of membership, also known as the Copenhagen Criteria, which require:

  • Stable institutions that can sustain democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and respect for minorities.
  • A functioning market economy and the capacity to cope with competitive pressures.
  • The ability to apply the EU’s rules and policies (known as the acquis communautaire).

The Single Market

2012 marks the 20th year of the European Single Market. With 500 million consumers, 21 million companies, and billions of dollars in intra-EU and global trade, the European Single Market has the largest GDP of any economy in the world.... Read more

European Neighborhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership

Learn how the European Neighborhood Policy promotes democracy, economic development, stability, and security in the countries around the borders of the EU, creating a ring of friends and avoiding the emergence of new dividing lines between the enlarged EU and its neighbors.... Read more

Candidate Countries

EU candidate countries are those whose EU membership application has been accepted by the EU, and are moving toward or actually negotiating their accessions. Currently, there are six candidate countries: Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYROM), Iceland, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey.... Read more

Potential Candidate Countries

The EU has promised potential candidate countries the prospect of EU membership once they are ready to take on the political and economic reforms necessary for EU accession. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo under UNSCR… Read more