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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 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.

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.