The enlargement is positive for Europe !

The Council welcomed progress made by the candidates but efforts are still needed.

Key challenges remain in the enlargement countries. Good governance, rule of law and administrative reforms are essential to come closer to the EU. Problems affecting freedom of expression and the media remain a particular concern. Improving the social and economic inclusion of vulnerable groups, including the Roma, should continue.

Enlargement countries are also affected by the global economic and financial crisis and have taken steps towards economic recovery. Further efforts to deliver structural reform and fiscal consolidation reforms for jobs and growth should accelerate these countries’ recovery and growth.

Regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations remain essential parts of the enlargement process. They contribute to prosperity, stability, reconciliation and a climate conducive to addressing disputes and the legacy of the past. All parties concerned should address bilateral issues in a constructive spirit.

The enlargement process continues to reinforce peace, democracy and stability in Europe and allows the EU to be better positioned to address global challenges. It generates far-reaching political and economic reform in the enlargement countries which also benefits the EU as a whole.

The enlargement countries are the candidate countries (Iceland, Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey) which have opened accession negotiations, and potential candidates, two of which (Albania and Serbia) have applied for membership, whereas two others (Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo) have not applied. Croatia has concluded negotiations, and the signature of the Accession Treaty takes place on 9 December in the margins of the European Council.

The summit on 9 December will decide on the possible next steps for any country moving towards EU membership on the basis of each of the countries’ own merits.

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