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EU enlargement

Enlargement policy applies to countries currently aspiring to join the EU and potential candidates. The prospect of membership is a powerful stimulus for democratic and economic reforms in countries that want to become EU members.



  • Foster peace and stability in regions close to the EU's borders
  • Help improve the quality of people’s lives through integration and cooperation across borders
  • Increase prosperity and opportunities for European businesses and citizens 
  • Guide, support and monitor changes in countries wishing to join the European Union in line with EU values, laws and standards


During the enlargement process, the Commission helps countries wishing to join the EU to meet the necessary criteria for membership, and supports them in implementing the related economic and democratic reforms.

Results of reforms must be solid, sustainable and irreversible.

Who can join?

Any European country can apply for membership if it respects the EU's democratic values and is committed to promoting them.

A country can only join if it meets all the membership criteria.

How does it work?

There are 3 main stages subject to approval by all EU countries.

When the negotiations and accompanying reforms are completed and agreed by both sides, the country can join the EU – if all EU countries agree.

Candidate countries

Current candidate countries are:

and Kosovo is a potential candidate.


24 JANUARY 2018
EU Enlargement strategy
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