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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.

Euro-Parliament awards 2020 Sakharov Prize to Belarus opposition
The European Parliament awarded its Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought Thursday to the democratic opposition in Belarus - in a political crisis since the disputed 9 August presidential elections.

EU imposes sanctions on Russian officials for Navalny poisoning
The EU imposed sanctions Thursday against six Russian officials involved in the assassination attempt on Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, poisoned in Russia with a Novichok toxic nerve agent.

Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans
The European Commission adopted on 6 October a comprehensive Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, which aims to spur the long-term economic recovery of the region, support a green and digital transition, foster regional integration and convergence with the European Union.

EU candidate countries slow to reform: report
Turkey and Western Balkan countries looking to join the EU show slow progress on rule of law, corruption, and freedom of the judiciary and the media, the Commission's enlargement review said Tuesday.

EU summit agrees sanctions against Belarus regime
EU leaders at a summit Friday agreed to impose sanctions on the Belarus regime, calling for an end to violence and repression and for new free and fair elections without external interference.

Poland, Hungary under rule of law spotlight
Europe faces important challenges to the rule of law, an EU-wide report published Wednesday by the Commission shows, highlighting the threat to Poland's judicial independence and corruption in Hungary.

EU set to impose sanctions on Belarus for unfair elections
Following a European Council video conference Wednesday, EU leaders made clear they did not recognise election results presented by the Belarus authorities, which did not meet international standards.

European culture capitals offered extensions
Croatian city Rijeka and Galway in Ireland could extend their year as 2020 European Capitals of Culture until 30 April 2021, because of the effects of the coronavirus crisis, the Commission announced Tuesday.

Poland: "overwhelming evidence" of rule of law breaches, say MEPs
After Poland's right-wing presidency retained power last weekend, an EU Parliament committee accused it Thursday of backsliding on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights.

Euro candidates still to meet EU convergence demands
The European Commission published the 2020 convergence report Wednesday, in which it provides its assessment of the progress non-euro area Member States have made towards adopting the euro.

Brussels takes legal action against Poland over judges' independence
The EU Commission launched legal action again Poland Wednesday over a new law which it says undermines the judicial independence of Polish judges and is incompatible with the primacy of EU law.

Brussels urges start to accession talks for Albania, Nth Macedonia
The EU Commission recommended the opening of accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia Monday, as it presented the countries' latest progress update on reforms related to the rule of law.

EU in solidarity with Greece over refugee crisis
The EU made a strong show of support for Greece Tuesday as its leaders were welcomed by Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to review the refugee crisis and tensions at the Greek-Turkish border.

EU tells Romania to recover EUR 570m 'incompatible aid' from rail freight operator CFR Marfa
Rail freight operator CFR Marfa received at least EUR 570m 'incompatible state aid' from Romania through debt write-off and failure to collect debts from the company, the EU Commission said Monday.

Europe to invest EUR 10m in micro-enterprises in the Baltic States
The European Investment Fund and Noviti Finance signed a EUR 10m cooperation agreement Thursday to give micro-businesses in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia better access to finance.

Western Balkans next target for EU enlargement
The European Commission put forward a proposal Wednesday to strengthen and make the EU accession process more predictable, targeting enlargement to the Western Balkans as a top EU priority.

EUR 200m boost for SMEs in EU neighbouring countries
The European Investment Bank and the EU Commission have joined forces in an 'SME Access to Finance' initiative to support economic growth, innovation and employment in EU neighbouring countries.

Galway, Rijeka start as European Capitals of Culture
The city of Rijeka in current EU president Croatia and Galway in Ireland began their joint one year tenure of the title of European Capital of Culture on Wednesday 1 January 2020.

EU sets up sanctions against Turkey for Cyprus oil drilling
The EU Council adopted a framework for restrictive measures Monday in response to unauthorised drilling by Turkey of hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean, enabling sanctions on individuals or entities.

Poland's judicial reform broke EU law: EU top Court
Changes to Polish law lowering the retirement age of ordinary court judges, and setting a different retirement age depending on their gender, are contrary to EU law, the EU's top Court ruled on Tuesday.

EU raises concerns over rule of law in Romania
Romanian authorities have backtracked in relation to developments on judicial reforms and the fight against corruption, the EU Commission reported Tuesday, while Bulgaria is meeting accession commitments.

Cooperation and Verification Mechanism Reports for Bulgaria and Romania
The European Commission adopted on 22 October its latest Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) Reports on steps taken by Romania and Bulgaria to meet their post-accession commitments on judicial reform and the fight against corruption, and in the case of Bulgaria on tackling organised crime.

EU bolsters support for refugees in Turkey
The EU Commission has announced an additional EUR 127 million of funding for the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) programme via the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey.

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.