Commission adopts 2023 Enlargement package, recommends to open negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova
November 13, 2023.
to grant candidate status to Georgia and to open accession negotiations with BiH, once the necessary degree of compliance is achieved
Enlargement package visual identity
Today, the European Commission adopted the 2023 Enlargement Package, providing a detailed assessment of the state of play and the progress made by Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkiye, and for the first time also Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia on their respective paths towards accession to the European Union. In particular, the report focuses on the progress in the implementation of fundamental reforms, as well as on providing clear guidance on the reform priorities ahead. Accession is and will remain a merit-based process, fully dependent on the objective progress achieved by each country.
In light of the results achieved by Ukraine and Moldova, and of the ongoing reform efforts, the Commission has recommended that the Council opens accession negotiations with both countries. Furthermore, the Commission recommends that Council adopts the negotiating frameworks once Ukraine and Moldova have adopted certain key measures. The Commission stands ready to report to Council by March 2024 on the progress relating to these measures.
In the case of Georgia, in light of the results achieved, the Commission recommends that the Council grants Georgia the status of a candidate country on the understanding that a number of steps are taken.
When it comes to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Commission recommends the opening of accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina once the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria is achieved. The country needs to apply further efforts to fulfil the key priorities set out in the Commission Opinion on its EU membership application. The Commission will continuously monitor the progress and compliance in all areas related to the opening of negotiations and report to the Council at the latest in March 2024.
European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, said:
Enlargement is a vital policy for the European Union. Completing our Union is the call of history, the natural horizon of our Union. Completing our Union, also has a strong economic and geopolitical logic. Past enlargements have shown the enormous benefits both for the accession countries and the EU. We all win.
In Ukraine, the decision to grant EU candidate status created a powerful reform dynamic, despite the ongoing war, with strong support from the people of Ukraine. The Ukrainian government and Parliament demonstrated resolve in making substantial progress on meeting the 7 steps of the European Commission Opinion on Ukraine's EU membership application. Ukraine has established a transparent pre-selection system for the Constitutional Court judges and reformed the judicial governance bodies. It has further developed its track record of high-level corruption investigations and convictions and strengthened its institutional framework. Ukraine has taken positive steps in a wider and systemic effort to address the influence of oligarchs. The country has also demonstrated its capacity to make progress in aligning with the EU acquis, even during wartime.
Moldova has made important progress on meeting the 9 steps set out in the Commission Opinion on Moldova's EU membership application. It launched a comprehensive justice reform following the Venice Commission recommendations, including by evaluating prominent judges and prosecutors. The country reformed its anti-corruption bodies and increased the number of investigations and convictions in corruption cases. Moldova adopted a deoligarchisation action plan, which it implements following set timelines. New legislation to set up a confiscation mechanism helps fight organised crime. The country adopted a public administration strategy and follows the reform at all levels. It worked to reform its public finance management and adopted legislation to reform public procurement. Moldova enhanced the participation of civil society in the decision-making process and has strengthened the protection of human rights.
Georgia has taken steps to strengthen engagement with the EU and increased pace of reforms in the recent months. To address the twelve priorities identified in the Commission Opinion on its membership application, Georgia has adopted legislative acts and policy actions on gender equality, on fighting violence against women and organised crime, as well as on taking into account European Court of Human Rights judgments. A judicial reform has been brought forward although a holistic reform of the High Council of Justice is still needed. Georgia has shared laws as well as its action plan for deoligarchisation with the Venice Commission for an opinion. A strategy on the protection of human rights was adopted and an action plan is being elaborated. A memorandum of cooperation with civil society representatives was concluded. Building a strong cross-party political consensus would contribute to addressing polarisation and accelerate its European path.