In 2022, the Western Balkans and Türkiye were joined by Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia as accession candidates. The EU holds accession negotiations with Serbia, Montenegro and, since July 2022, Albania and North Macedonia. However, negotiations with Türkiye are currently on hold. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine and Moldova have candidate status. Kosovo and Georgia are potential accession candidates.
Accession negotiations were opened with Montenegro on 29th June 2012. 33 of 35 chapters have been opened, 3 chapters (Science and Research; Education and Culture; External Relations) have been provisionally closed. Before further negotiation chapters can be closed, the interim criteria in rule of law chapters 23 and 24 in particular must be met. Due to domestic political turbulence, there has been little progress in negotiations since 2020.
The negotiation process with Serbia was opened on 21st January 2014. Cluster 4, which includes the chapters on Transport Policy, Energy, trans-European Networks, as well as Environment and Climate Change, was opened in December 2021. Thus, 22 of the total 35 chapters are opened for negotiations, of which 2 chapters are already provisionally closed. Little progress in the process in 2022. EU member states insist that progress in negotiations now depends increasingly on alignment with EU foreign policy; Serbia has not joined EU sanctions against Russia.
After a two-year blockade by Bulgaria, a breakthrough was achieved in Juni 2022 for the start of EU accession negotiations with North Macedonia, which officially began with the first accession conference on 19th July 2022. The first step of the accession process, the socalled screening of the acquis, is expected to run until the end of 2023. Before the next step, North Macedonia must amend its constitution with regard to the recognition of Bulgarian and other minorities.
Albania was also able to start EU accession negotiations on 19th July 2022, and is now expected to complete the screening process by the end of 2023.
Bosnia and Herzegovina submitted its EU accession application on 15th February 2016. In its 2022 Enlargement Package, the Commission recommended to the Council of the European Union that Bosnia and Herzegovina be granted candidate status "on the assumption" that the country "addresses" measures in eight priority areas, including democracy, rule of law, and the fight against corruption. On December 15th 2022 the European Council endorsed the December 13 Council conclusions on Enlargement and the Stabilization and Association Process and agreed to grant candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
With Kosovo, the Stabilization and Association Agreement entered into force on 1st April 2016. Further EU rapprochement depends on the normalization of relations with Serbia, progress in the reform process, and the attitude of the five EU non-recognizers (Greece, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Republic of Cyprus). Kosovo submitted a formal application for EU membership on 15th December 2022. Austria will work to ensure that this is dealt with in accordance with usual procedures. At the end of 2022, an agreement was reached between the Council and the European Parliament on visa liberalization for Kosovo, which is to apply from 1st January 2024.
The EU has been conducting accession negotiations with Türkiye since 2005. So far, only one chapter (science and research) has been provisionally closed. Due to the political situation, accession talks with Türkiye came to a de facto standstill in 2018. Currently, no negotiations are taking place, nor are new negotiation chapters being opened.
Ukraine submitted its application for EU membership on 28th February 2022. The Commission presented its opinion in June, recommending candidate status for Ukraine and Moldova on the assumption that certain measures (including judicial and corruption reforms) would be addressed. For Georgia, conditions were set in advance, after which the status would be granted (including overcoming political polarization, creating functioning state institutions). The June European Council followed this recommendation and confirmed candidate status for Ukraine and Moldova and held out the prospect of it for Georgia. In order to strengthen cooperation, it is planned to gradually integrate Ukraine and Moldova into the EU single market. Sectoral cooperation is to be further intensified with all the three states. The Commission will report on the implementation status of its priorities in its regular enlargement report in the fall of 2023 and, if progress is made, propose further steps (e.g. opening of negotiations with Ukraine/Moldova).
Europe, ETC: EU-Erweiterung@bmaw.gv.at