Screening, or analytical examination of the acquis, is the stage preparatory to accession negotiations. It is vital since it forms the basis for the bilateral negotiations between the European Union and the various candidate countries.
The screening process is carried out jointly by the Commission and each of the candidate countries, allowing the latter to familiarise themselves with the acquis and demonstrate their capacity to put it into effect.
A further purpose of screening is to identify those areas of the acquis in which progress is needed if the candidate countries' legislation is to be compatible with the Community rules. These areas are divided into chapters, which are negotiated individually.
A screening exercise may be carried out during the accession negotiations if the acquis has to be updated.