Accession negotiations are vital for monitoring and helping candidate countries to prepare for accession and for assessing how ready they are. Each country is judged on its own merits from the point of view of compliance with the accession criteria. Negotiations help candidate countries to prepare to fulfil the obligations of European Union membership. They also allow the Union to prepare itself for enlargement in terms of absorption capacity.
Negotiations relate to the adoption and implementation of the Community acquis, which is monitored by the Commission. The acquisis divided into chapters, and there are as many chapters as areas in which progress must be made. These areas are identified by screening theacquis. The Technical Assistance and Information Exchange programme (TAIEX) plays a part here. Each chapter is negotiated individually, and measurable reference criteria are defined for the opening and closing of each chapter.
Negotiations take place at bilateral intergovernmental conferences between the Member States and the candidate country. Common negotiating positions are defined for each of the chapters relating to matters of Community competence.
The results of the negotiations (with the outcome of political and economic dialogues) are incorporated into a draft accession treaty, once the negotiations on all chapters are closed. Where appropriate, the system of transitional measures allows negotiations to be concluded even if transposal of the acquis has not been completed.