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EU Entrant Countries

Volume 447: debated on Thursday 22 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what her assessment is of the readiness of each potential new entrant into the EU; and what the expected timetable for entry is for each. (77787)

Romania and Bulgaria are scheduled to join the EU on 1 January 2007 provided that they address the outstanding issues outlined in the European Commission's report of 16 May. The Commission will report on both countries’ progress no later than early October. Accession can be postponed until 2008 on the basis of a decision by Council following a recommendation from the Commission.

Turkey and Croatia have opened membership negotiations with the EU. The European Commission is currently screening Turkey and Croatia’s legislation to assess their alignment with the acquis communautaire. The Science and Research chapter for both countries was provisionally closed at the Accession Conference on 12 June. Before joining the EU, both countries must close the remaining 34 chapters of the acquis and meet the political and economic criteria for membership outlined in the conclusions of the Copenhagen European Council in 1993.

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is a candidate country. However, it has not opened negotiations for membership. The European Commission will report on further progress this year. The EU has offered all the other countries of the Western Balkans, none of which is yet a candidate country, the perspective of ultimate EU membership through the Stabilisation and Association process.

Neither the EU nor the UK has set a timetable for any country’s entry to the EU beyond Romania and Bulgaria. The progress of each candidate or potential candidate towards membership depends on their success in meeting EU standards.