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Eastern & Central Europe

Latest news about eastern and central Europe and EU enlargement. Since it was founded in 1958, the EU has regularly accepted new member countries. Each applicant country must meet certain requirements before membership is permitted. Regular enlargements have seen the EU grow from its original 6 founding members to 28 in 2013. Any country that satisfies the conditions for enlargement can apply to be a candidate. The European Commission, at the request of the European Council, assesses the applicant’s ability to meet the conditions of membership. If the opinion is positive and the Council agrees a negotiating mandate, discussions are formally opened between the applicant and the EU. At the start of 2013, five countries had been accepted as EU candidate countries: Iceland, Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo (under UN Security Resolution 1244) have the status of potential candidates.

EU takes next step over judicial reforms in Poland
The EU Commission took the next step in an ongoing infringement procedure against Poland Wednesday, sending a 'reasoned opinion' regarding a new disciplinary regime for Polish judges.

EU unwavering in its support for Ukraine
At the 21st EU-Ukraine Summit in Kiev Monday, the European Union affirmed its strong partnership with Ukraine as well as its support for the country's continued progress on reform and fighting corruption.

EU-Ukraine support
During the 21st EU-Ukraine Summit, Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn signed with his Ukrainian government counterparts 4 programmes, worth EUR 109 million from the Commission's 2019 annual support package to Ukraine. The new EU support package will focus on decentralisation, the fight against corruption, supporting civil society and technical cooperation for the facilitation of key reforms and the implementation of the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area.

Lowering Polish judges' retirement age unlawful: EU top Court
Polish legislation to lower the retirement age of Supreme Court judges breaches EU law, the EU's top Court ruled Monday, going against principles of the irremovability of judges and judicial independence.

Albania, N. Macedonia ready for accession talks, says EU
The EU Council should open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, the Commission recommended Wednesday in its annual assessment of reforms in the Western Balkans and Turkey.

EU opens infringement procedure against Poland over judicial independence
The European Commission launched an infringement procedure against Poland Wednesday, citing the aim of protecting Polish judges from political control. The Polish government has 2 months to reply.

EU launches ICT, pharma cases against India, Turkey at WTO
The EU brought two disputes in the World Trade Organisation against India and Turkey Tuesday, respectively targeting unlawful import duties on IT products and unlawful measures on pharmaceuticals.

Russian disinformation main source of fake news in Europe, say MEPs
Russia's disinformation campaigns are the main source of fake news in Europe, along with China, Iran and North Korea, MEPs said Thursday, calling on the EU to fight back against hostile propaganda.

2019 Association Implementation Report on Georgia
In line with the revised European Neighbourhood Policy, this report sets out the state of play of Georgia’s commitments under the EU-Georgia Association Agreement (AA) since the meeting of the EU-Georgia Association Council of 5 February 2018 and ahead of its next meeting of 5 March 2019.

Brexit heads major challenges for EU's new Romanian presidency
Major challenges of Brexit, the EU's future Budget and the upcoming European elections faced Romania on 1 January 2019 as it took over its first presidency of the European Union.

Fulfilment of visa-free requirements by Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries
The European Commission reported on 19 December on its assessment of the fulfilment of the visa liberalisation benchmarks by the Western Balkan countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia as well as the Eastern Partnership countries: Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. This annual report shows that the visa liberalisation requirements for the concerned countries continue to be met but that action - in some cases immediate - is required for a number of countries in specific areas to ensure this continues to be the case.

Bulgaria and Romania Cooperation and Verification Mechanism Reports 2018
The European Commission issued on 13 November its latest reports on steps taken by Bulgaria and Romania to meet their commitments on judicial reform and the fight against corruption, and in the case of Bulgaria organised crime, in the context of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM).

Bulgaria makes progress, Romania backtracks on judicial reform, corruption
Bulgaria has made good progress in fighting corruption and organised crime, but Romania has gone backwards, particularly with regard to judicial reform, the EU said in its annual review published Tuesday.

Ukraine needs to step up fight against corruption: EU report
Ukraine has made progress in important areas, but the pace of reforms in areas of the judiciary and anti-corruption measures is too slow, the EU said Friday in its Association Implementation Report.

EC requests Maltese anti-money laundering watchdog to step up supervision of banks
The EU Commission requested the Maltese anti-money laundering supervisor Thursday to take additional measures to fully comply with its obligations under the fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive.

Brussels okays Slovakia state aid to Jaguar Land Rover
The EU Commission gave its approval Thursday to Slovakia's EUR 125 million investment aid to Jaguar Land Rover, saying it is in line with EU State aid rules, and will not unduly distort competition.

MEPs cut support for Turkey by EUR 70m over EU values
MEPs on the EU Parliament's budget committee agreed Tuesday to cancel EUR 70 million in pre-accession funds earmarked for Turkey, as they say conditions to improve the rule of law were not met.

EU takes Poland to court over judicial independence
The European Commission referred Poland to the Court of Justice of the EU Monday due to the violations of the principle of judicial independence created by a new Polish Law on the Supreme Court.

Court upholds EU sanctions against Russian banks
The General Court of the EU upheld Thursday restrictive measures taken by the EU Council against a number of Russian banks and oil and gas companies in connection with the crisis in Ukraine.

EU steps up legal action against Poland over judicial independence
The European Commission took another step in its infringement procedure against Poland over the rule of law Tuesday, pursuing efforts to protect the independence of the Polish Supreme Court.

Russia loses WTO claims against EU energy policy
Russia lost most of its claims against EU energy policy measures at the World Trade Organisation Friday, over alleged incompatibility of the EU's third energy package with the multilateral trade rules.

EU takes legal action against Hungary over migrants
The Commission has referred Hungary to the EU Court of Justice for non-compliance of asylum and return legislation with EU law, and sent a letter of formal notice concerning new Hungarian migrant legislation.

Ease of doing business compared for 25 European cities
A new report from the World Bank Tuesday assesses the support and obstacles entrepreneurs find in setting up and expanding businesses in 25 cities in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Slovakia.

Doing Business in the European Union 2018: Croatia, Czech Republic, Portugal and Slovakia
Doing Business in the European Union 2018: Croatia, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Slovakia - the first report of the subnational Doing Business series in these countries - assesses the business regulatory environment and its impact on local entrepreneurs in 5 cities in Croatia (Osijek, Rijeka, Split, Varazdin and Zagreb), 7 cities in the Czech Republic (Brno, Liberec, Olomouc, Ostrava, Plzen, Prague and Usti nad Labem), 8 cities in Portugal (Braga, Coimbra, Evora, Faro, Funchal, Lisbon, Ponta Delgada and Porto), 5 cities in Slovakia (Bratislava, Kosice, Presov, Trnava and Zilina). The report measures regulations relevant to 5 stages in the life of a small to medium-size domestic firm: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property and enforcing contracts.

EU launches legal action over Poland's Supreme Court changes
The EU Commission launched an infringement procedure against Poland Monday over changes to Polish law on the Supreme Court, which it says undermines the principle of judicial independence.