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Enlargement strategy and report on progress made by candidate countries - year 2001

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1) OBJECTIVE

To report on progress made by candidate countries with regard to the accession criteria and accession negotiations, and to launch an action plan aimed at reinforcing the administrative and judicial capacity of these countries.

2) ACT

Making a success of enlargement - Strategy Paper and Report of the European Commission on the progress towards accession by each of the candidate countries. [COM (2001) 700 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

3) SUMMARY

The current strategy paper accompanies regular Commission reports from the year 2001 on the progress towards accession by candidate countries. It sums up in particular the respect for accession criteria in candidate countries and launches an action plan to reinforce the administrative and judicial capacity of these countries.

Accession criteria

The current communication indicates that the candidate countries (with the exception of Turkey) are continuing to respect the political accession criteria established in the Copenhagen European Council. They are continuing to enhance their democratic systems. However, some problems still remain: corruption, fraud, organised crime, trafficking in women and children, irregularities surrounding pre-trial detention, inequality between the sexes and problems relating to the situation of minorities, in particular the Roma.

Annex 4 of the communication shows a list of Human Rights Conventions ratified by the candidate countries.

As regards the economic criteria, the Commission indicates that Cyprus and Malta are functioning market economies which are able to withstand the pressure of competition and market forces within the European Union (EU). The Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia are functioning market economies which could in the short term withstand the pressure of competition and market forces within the EU. Bulgaria is almost a functioning market economy and will be able to fulfil the second part of the economic criteria in the medium term. Romania does not fulfil either of the two parts of the criteria, although it has made significant progress. Turkey is not a functioning market economy, but parts of its economy are already competitive on the EU market, in the context of the customs union with the European Community.

With regard to the transposition of the acquis, considerable progress has been made in the majority of countries. Some difficulties were encountered in transposing some aspects of the acquis, but the main problem is still the implementation of adequate administrative structures to implement the acquis.

Action plan regarding administrative and judicial capacity

In order to implement and enforce the acquis, candidate countries must have a suitable administrative and judicial capacity. The majority of countries have made great efforts to ensure that their public administrations are stable and independent, but a great deal remains to be done. Some countries must improve the independence of the judicial power as well as the pay, working conditions and training of judges. In order to assist candidate countries in achieving these objectives, the Commission will establish an action plan.

This action plan will be based on the priority areas identified in the revised Accession Partnerships, the Regular Reports and commitments made in the accession negotiations. The actions underway which build administrative capacity will be reinforced, using in particular mechanisms such as twinning or TAIEX (Technical Assistance Information Exchange Office).

Up to EUR 250 million from the Phare programme will be allocated to additional reinforcement of the institutions. Cyprus and Malta will be able to receive the same type of aid, if this proves to be necessary.

The action plan will include monitoring mechanisms, in particular peer reviews. These will consist of analyses of the candidate countries' administrative capacities, led by experts from the Member States and the Commission. The Council will be informed of the results of these evaluations and they will be taken into account in the accession negotiations.

Turkey

The current communication recommends entering a new phase as regards Turkey's pre-accession strategy. Throughout this new phase, the legislation of the country and the timing of the transposition of the acquis will be analysed in detail

Conclusions

The Commission concludes that the financial framework of enlargement, established at the Berlin European Council (March 1999) will allow the accession of 10 new Member States in 2004. The institutional reform required as a result of enlargement has already been defined at the Nice Council (December 2000).

The 2002 Regular Reports on the candidates' progress towards accession may contain recommendations regarding the countries ready to join the EU.

4) IMPLEMENTING MEASURES

5) FOLLOW-UP WORK

This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document.

Last updated: 06.12.2001
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