The European Union follows very closely the situation in the countries of the Western Balkans, as they undertake significant reforms to prepare to join the Union. The enlargement process is founded on the Copenhagen criteria, which reflect the Union’s founding values: peace, democracy, the rule of law, respect for fundamental rights, and a functioning market economy. Countries wishing to join the Union are assessed according to these criteria and their ability to take on the obligations of membership by successfully adopting, implementing and enforcing the cumulative body of EU laws, otherwise known as the acquis communautaire .
The European Commission very closely monitors the progress of EU candidate and potential candidate countries, preparing Annual Progress Reports that are discussed by Member States in Council and in the European Parliament. Enlargement is regularly discussed by Ministers at the General Affairs Council. At the most recent General Affairs Council meeting on 24 June 2014, for example, Member States decided to grant Albania the status of candidate country, a decision that was endorsed by the European Council last Friday.
Ireland remains very supportive of EU enlargement, one of the EU’s most successful policies, promoting peace, prosperity and stability in candidate and potential candidate countries. Together with our EU counterparts, we will continue to support the countries of the Western Balkans, as they undertake the reforms necessary for eventual EU membership.