Enlargement strategy and 2002 report on the progress of the candidate countries
To review the progress towards accession to the European Union of the candidate countries and to assess the extent to which they will meet the Copenhagen criteria on the date envisaged for accession.
"Towards the Enlarged Union." Strategy Paper and Report of the European Commission on the progress towards accession by each of the candidate countries [COM(2002)700 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
The Commission states that the commitments made by the candidate countries during the accession negotiations have been largely respected, although some difficulties have been encountered, particularly in the agriculture, environment and fisheries sectors. Transitional arrangements allowing the non-application of the acquis communautaire upon accession were adopted in the sectors where application of the acquis requires substantial financial investments. These measures are limited in scope and time and subject to strict conditions. Annex 6 to the report outlines the state of play of the negotiations.
The report points out that although all of the candidate countries have met the political criteria since 1999, significant advances have been achieved in the past five years. Progress has been made in relation to the modernisation of the public administration, the strengthening of the judicial system, the fight against corruption, the legislative framework for ensuring gender equality, childcare institutions in Romania and the situation of minorities, particularly the Roma communities. Turkey has made remarkable progress but does not fulfil this criterion.
Cyprus and Malta meet all of the economic criteria, in other words they are functioning market economies that have the capacity to withstand competitive pressure and market forces within the Union. The Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia are also functioning market economies and the continuation of the current reforms should enable them to cope with competitive pressure and market forces upon accession. Bulgaria became a functioning market economy in 2002 and should be able to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union in the medium term. Romania has continued to make progress towards being a functioning market economy and it should be able to withstand competitive pressure and market forces in the medium term. Turkey has also made progress on the functioning of its market economy, which should improve its capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces.
As regards the other obligations of membership, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic, the Czech Republic and Slovenia have reached a high level of alignment with the acquis communautaire and have made considerable advances towards ensuring adequate administrative and judicial capacity. The Commission considers that these countries will fulfil this criterion at the time of accession. Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey do not fully meet this criterion.
Bearing in mind the progress made by Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic, the Czech Republic and Slovenia in meeting the accession criteria, the Commission concludes that these countries will be ready for membership from the beginning of 2004. It recommends concluding the negotiations with these countries by the end of 2002 so that they can sign the Accession Treaty in spring 2003.
Bulgaria and Romania do not fully meet the economic and acquis criteria. Turkey does not fully meet the political, economic or acquis criteria.
Accession strategy for Bulgaria and Romania
The Commission strongly supports Bulgaria and Romania in achieving their objective of becoming members of the Union in 2007. To this end, a new accession strategy for these two countries will be approved at the Copenhagen Council (12 and 13 December 2002). This would include a substantial increase in pre-accession aid, particularly from the date of the first wave of accessions. In 2003, the Accession Partnerships for Bulgaria and Romania will be revised.
Accession of Turkey
The report suggests strengthening support for Turkey's preparations for accession through several instruments:
- updating Turkey's Accession Partnership;
- enhanced political and economic dialogue;
- developing the process of legislative scrutiny;
- extending the scope of the customs union;
- deepening trade relations;
- stimulating direct investment between the Union and Turkey;
- enhanced cooperation in the area of justice and home affairs;
- participation of Turkey in Community programmes and agencies;
- additional financial support to Turkey from 2004.
Continuing the accession process
Drafting of the Accession Treaty, which began officially in March 2002, must be completed as soon as possible after the conclusion of the negotiations. Once the Treaty has been approved by all of the parties, the Commission should adopt its opinion on the applications for accession of each country. Parliament then gives its assent and the Council adopts a decision on the admission of the candidate countries. The final stage is the signature of the Treaty, due to take place in spring 2003, and ratification by the present and future Member States.
Monitoring reports will be presented regularly by the Commission to the Council which will look at the progress made towards accession by the candidate countries. Six months before accession, a comprehensive monitoring report will analyse the progress made in the implementation of the necessary reforms and commitments in the field of the acquiscommunautaire. After accession, implementation of the acquis by the new Member States will be monitored using the same mechanisms as those applied to the existing Member States.
The Accession Treaty will contain an economic safeguard clause that could be used for two years from the date of accession by both the new and current Member States. The Commission considers that this safeguard mechanism should also apply to the internal market, justice and home affairs. Such a clause would complement the instruments used by the Commission to ensure respect for Community legislation.
The Commission proposes establishing, after accession, transitional arrangements to help build up administrative and judicial institutions. In this context, institution-building actions will be confined to the fields of justice and home affairs, the internal market, the environment, veterinary services, agriculture, nuclear safety, general administration reform and horizontal technical assistance.