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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.

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.

Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan
The primary objective of the Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan (BEMIP) initiative is to achieve an open and integrated regional electricity and gas market between EU countries in the Baltic Sea region, ending energy isolation. The initiative's members are the European Commission and Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Finland, and Sweden. Norway participates as an observer.

Baltic states sign energy synchronisation agreement with EU
The heads of state or government of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland signed a roadmap Thursday for synchronising the Baltic States' electricity grid with the continental European network by 2025.

Synchronisation of Baltic States' electricity networks with the continental European network (CEN)
On 28 June, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker signed, jointly with leaders of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland a political Roadmap for synchronising the Baltic States' electricity grid with continental Europe.

Malta breaking EU law on wild birds: EU Court
Malta has failed to fulfil its obligations under EU law in its adoption of a derogation regime to allow the trapping of seven species of wild birds, the European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday.

EU extends sanctions against Russia over Crimea
EU ministers decided to extend sanctions against Russia for another year Monday, as the EU continued to punish Russia for the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sebastopol.

No fine for Gazprom as EU settles antitrust dispute
The EU Commission settled its antitrust dispute with Russia's Gazprom Thursday, imposing conditions on the state-controlled energy giant to enable free flow of gas 'at competitive prices' in east European gas markets.

Summit reinforces EU links with Western Balkans
A summit between leaders of the Western Balkans and the EU ended Thursday confirming the region's 'European perspective' and a strengthening of cooperation in connectivity, security and the rule of law.

Commission recommends membership talks for Albania, Macedonia
The Commission's annual Enlargement Package, adopted Tuesday, recommends that the Council open accession negotiations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and with Albania.

Logging in Bialowieza Forest broke law: EU Court
Increasing logging operations in Poland's Białowieza Forest nature reserve infringed EU law, the European Court of Justice ruled Tuesday in a final judgement.

EU continues dialogue with Turkey over rule of law
EU leaders conveyed continued concern over the rule of law in Turkey Monday, as Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined them for a wide-ranging discussion on EU-Turkey relations and the way ahead.

Russian duties on EU vans illegal, WTO confirms
The WTO has dismissed Russia's appeal and upheld EU arguments in the dispute on the anti-dumping duties imposed by Russia in 2013 on imports of European light commercial vehicles (LCVs).

"Highly likely" Russia behind UK attack: EU summit
At a summit in Brussels, EU leaders condemned Russia Thursday for the recent nerve agent attack in Britain, agreeing to coordinate their response "in the light of the answers provided by the Russian authorities".

Poland's Bialowieza Forest logging 'infringes EU law'
It is unlawful to increase logging in Poland's Bialowieza Forest, the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice confirmed in an opinion issued Tuesday. The Court's final judgement is due in March.

MEPs call on Turkey to lift state of emergency, denounce arrests
MEPs denounced Thursday the arrests by the Turkish government as it attempts to censor criticism over its military assault of Afrin, and expressed serious concern about its humanitarian consequences.

EU enlargement door opens for Western Balkans
The EU Commission set out a new strategy for the Western Balkans Tuesday, spelling out priorities and areas for closer cooperation, and areas for reform with a view to 'a credible enlargement perspective'.

Western Balkans: a credible enlargement perspective
The European Commission adopted on 6 February a strategy for 'A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans'.

Priority dossiers under the Bulgarian EU Council Presidency
Bulgaria will hold the EU Council Presidency from January to June 2018. Its Presidency is part of the Trio Presidency composed of Estonia, Bulgaria and Austria. This will be the first time Bulgaria has held the rotating presidency since it joined the EU in 2007.

Preliminary results of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union
The Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU worked with a total of 377 drafts, including legislative initiatives, strategies and communications, Estonia also brought new topics to the agenda.

Bulgaria EU presidency promises unity in face of Brexit
"United We Stay Strong" is the motto of Bulgaria's presidency of the EU Council, which began 1 January 2018, and underlined the EU's focus on solidarity as pivotal to the EU's future in the face of Brexit.

EU begins action against Poland over independence of judiciary
Despite repeated efforts to engage with Polish authorities over judicial independence, the European Commission concluded Wednesday that there is a clear risk of a serious breach of the rule of law in Poland.

Rule of Law in Poland - background guide
Despite repeated efforts, for almost two years, to engage the Polish authorities in a constructive dialogue in the context of the Rule of Law Framework, the Commission has today concluded that there is a clear risk of a serious breach of the rule of law in Poland.

Illegal Bialowieza logging could cost Poland EUR 100,000 a day
Poland will have to pay a EUR 100,000 penalty per day if it continues banned logging activities in the EU-protected Bialowieza Forest, one of the last remaining primeval forests in Europe, the EU's top court has ruled.

EU Parliament warns Poland on rule of law
Poland is at "clear risk of a serious breach" of European values, including the rule of law, enshrined in the EU Treaty, MEPs said on Wednesday, warning of possible suspension of Poland's EU voting rights.