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Partnerships with the Western Balkans

Within the framework of the stabilisation and association process with the countries of the Western Balkans, the European Union has set up partnerships with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, including Kosovo, as defined by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of 10 June 1999. These partnerships set up a framework of priority action and a financial structure to improve the stability and prosperity of the region, with a view to greater integration with the EU as these countries are recognised as potential candidates for membership. As a candidate country for which membership negotiations have already begun, Croatia benefits from its own accession partnership.

ACT

Council Regulation (EC) No 533/2004 of 22 March 2004 on the establishment of partnerships in the framework of the stabilisation and association process [See amending acts].

SUMMARY

The European Union (EU) applies the same methodology to the countries of the Western Balkans as that followed for the new Member States and acceding countries. The enriched stabilisation and association process therefore remains the overall framework for the Western Balkans' European journey until their integration into the EU.

Partnerships are established with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, including Kosovo, as defined by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of 10 June 1999.

Croatia, for whom membership negotiations have already begun, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, benefit from an accession partnership, which takes into account their special status as candidate countries.

The partnerships aim to support the Western Balkans' efforts to implement the stabilisation and association process and to meet the accession criteria (Copenhagen criteria) with a view to their eventual EU membership. They provide a coherent structure for the reforms which are needed and a corresponding financial framework. The countries concerned are developing plans with timetables of reforms and details in terms of measures of how they intend to address the requirements for further integration into the EU.

Mechanisms of the European partnerships

The partnerships provide a framework covering the priorities resulting from the analysis of each of the partners' differing situations, on which preparations for further integration into the European Union must concentrate in the light of the criteria defined by the European Council, and, where appropriate, the progress made in implementing the stabilisation and association process including stabilisation and association agreements, and in particular regional cooperation.

The partnerships are regularly revised on the basis of the progress made by each country and any new priorities identified. The Council decides by qualified majority and on a proposal from the Commission the principles, priorities and conditions to be contained in the European partnerships, as well as any subsequent adjustments.

The follow-up of these European partnerships is ensured by means of the mechanisms established under the stabilisation and association process, in particular the annual reports.

Financial assistance

The partnerships also provide a framework for financial assistance aimed mainly at pursuing the priorities and objectives identified.

Community assistance for the Western Balkan countries under the stabilisation and association process is provided by the relevant financial instruments, i.e. the instrument for pre-accession assistance (IAP) for the 2007-13 period which replaces the 2000-06 CARDS Programme.

Context

The Feira European Council in June 2000 recognised that all the countries of the Western Balkans are potential candidates for membership of the EU. This prospect requires fulfilment of the political, economic and institutional criteria laid down at the Copenhagen European Council in June 1993 (Articles 6 and 49 of the EU Treaty), as recognised by the Zagreb Declaration of November 2000 between the EU and the countries participating in the stabilisation and association process and as reaffirmed by the Thessaloniki European Council of June 2003.

The "Thessaloniki Agenda" of June 2003 identifies ways and means of intensifying the stabilisation and association process, including the drawing-up of partnerships.

Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are both candidate countries - they were accorded this status in 2004 and 2005 respectively. Furthermore, the Member States began membership negotiations with Croatia on 3 October 2005.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into force - Date of expiryDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Regulation (EC) No 533/2004

27.3.2004

-

OJ L 86 of 24.3.2004

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Regulation (EC) No 269/2006

20.2.2006

-

OJ L 47 of 17.2.2006

Regulation (EC) No 229/2008

18.3.2008

-

OJ L 73 of 15.3.2008

Last updated: 31.08.2011
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