and the Council unanimously agrees on a negotiating mandate, negotiations are formally opened between the candidate and all the Member States. To help the countries prepare for future membership, a pre-accession strategy is designed which include agreements that set out rights and obligations, as well as special cooperation mechanisms, setting out concrete reform objectives to be achieved by the candidates and potential candidates. Negotiations are conducted individually with each candidate. Candidates consequently have an incentive to implement necessary reforms rapidly and effectively. Some of these reforms require considerable and sometimes difficult transformations of a country ’ s political and economic structures. Accession negotiations take place between the EU Member States and candidate countries at the level of ministers or deputies. To facilitate the negotiations, the whole body of EU law is divided into “ chapters ” , each corresponding to a policy area. The first step in negotiations is called “ screening ” ; its purpose is to identify areas in need of alignment in the legislation, institutions or practices of a candidate country. The Commission establishes a “ screening report ” for each chapter and each country. These reports are submitted to the Council. It is for the Commission to make a recommendation on whether to open negotiations on a chapter, or require that certain conditions should be met first. The candidate country then submits a negotiating position. On the basis of a proposal by the Commission, the Council adopts an EU common position allowing opening of the negotiations. Once the EU agrees a common position on each chapter of the acquis, and once the candidate accepts the EU ’ s common position, negotiations on that chapter are closed – but only provisionally. EU accession negotiations operate on the principle that “ nothing is agreed until everything is agreed ” , so definitive closure of chapters occurs only at the end of the entire negotiating process. The conditions of EU Membership The requirements for joining the EU have been spelled out with increasing precision over the course of its evolution, to provide clarity for its own citizens and guidance to countries wishing to join. Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union states that any European country may apply for member-ship if it respects the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law. A country can only become a member if it fulfils all criteria for accession as first defined by the European Council in Copenhagen in 1993, and rein-forced in 1995. These criteria are: 1. Political : stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities.
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- Spring '16
- Lieven De Moor