Croatia applied for membership in 2003 and will become a member on 1 July 2013. After Slovenia, Croatia has recovered best from the break-up of the former Yugoslavia and pushed to become the second former Yugoslav state to join. It has a stable market economy and, according to the Eurostat, its GDP per capita for 2010 was 61 per cent of the EU average exceeding the GDP per capita of four current EU member states.
Accession negotiations were concluded on 30 June 2011. Signing of the Treaty of Accession took place on 9 December 2011 in Brussels.
Macedonia applied to become an official candidate on 22 March 2004. On 9 November 2005, the European Commission recommended that it attain candidate status. EU leaders agreed to this recommendation on 17 December, formally naming the country an official candidate. However, no starting date for negotiations has been announced yet.
On 17 December 2005, the European Council welcomed and congratulated the country's achievements in implementing multiple reforms and agreements (Copenhagen criteria, Stabilisation and Association process, Ohrid Agreement).
In the independence referendum of 21 May 2006, the Montenegrin people voted for Montenegro to leave the state union of Serbia and Montenegro and become an independent state. After obtaining independence, Montenegro officially submitted its EU membership application to the European Commission (EC) on 15 December 2008.However, Montenegro has been experiencing ecological, judicial and crime-related problems that could slow or hinder its bid.
Montenegro adopted the euro as its currency at its launch in 2002, having previously used the German mark. Negotiations over the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) started in September 2006. SAA was officially signed on 15 October 2007 and came into force on 1 May 2010, after all the 27 member-states of EU had ratified it.
On 22 July 2009, a questionnaire to assess Montenegro's application was presented to the Montenegrin Government by the EC. On 9 December 2009, Montenegro delivered its answers to the EC questionnaire. On 9 November 2010, the European Commission recommended that the Council of the European Union grant Montenegro the status of candidate country. On 17 December 2010, Montenegro became an official EU candidate country.
The government of Serbia has set a goal for EU accession in 2014. Negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement started in November 2005. Serbia's candidacy was hindered by its relations with the breakaway state of Kosovo. Serbia made numerous concessions on this to achieve candidate status, such as allowing Kosovo to participate in regional forums, and jointly managing their border.
The European Commission sent a legislative questionnaire of around 2500 questions and Serbia answered to on 31 January 2011. On 12 October 2011, the European Commission has recommended that Serbia should be granted an official EU candidate status following its successful application for the EU membership.
A deal was reached with Romania in late February 2012, removing Romanian objections to candidacy. On 28 February, Carl Bildt, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, confirmed that the EU foreign ministers agreed to grant green light for Serbia candidacy status. Candidacy status was granted by the European Council on 1 March 2012.
Turkey is one of the founding members of the Council of Europe since 1949 and has been an "associate member" of the European Union and its predecessors since 1964, as a result of the EEC–Turkey Association Agreement (Ankara Agreement) that was signed on 12 September 1963.
The country formally applied for full membership on 14 April 1987, but 12 years passed before it was recognised as a candidate country at the Helsinki Summit in 1999. After a summit in Brussels on 17 December 2004 (following the major 2004 enlargement), the European Council announced that membership negotiations with Turkey were officially opened on 3 October 2005. The screening process which began on 20 October 2005 was completed on 18 October 2006.
Turkey, with the seventh largest economy in the Council of Europe and the fifteenth largest economy in the world, is part of the common EU customs territory since the entering into force of the EU–Turkey Customs Union in 1996.
Proponents of Turkey's membership argue that it is a key regional power with a large economy and the second largest military force of NATO that will enhance the EU's position as a global geostrategic player; given Turkey's geographic location and economic, political and cultural ties in regions with that are in the immediate vicinity of the EU's geopolitical sphere of influence
One more thought: The accession of Turkey would give the EU a decisive role for stability in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, which is clearly in the strategic interest of Europe.
However others, such as French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, maintain an opposition to Turkey's membership. Opponents argue that Turkey does not respect the key principles that are expected in a liberal democracy, such as the freedom of expression, with potentially repressive laws like Article 301 (A law which states it is illegal to "insult the Turkish nation"); and because of the significant role of the army on the Turkish administrative foreground through the National Security Council; whose military-dominated structure was reformed on 23 July 2003, in line with the requests from the EU. Turkey's large population would also alter the balance of power in the representative European institutions. Upon joining the EU, Turkey's 70 million inhabitants would bestow it the second largest number of MEPs in the European Parliament. Demographic projections indicate that Turkey would surpass Germany in the number of seats by 2020.
Other opponents to Turkey's membership state that it would also affect future enlargement plans, especially the number of nations seeking EU membership, grounds by which Valéry Giscard d'Estaing has opposed Turkey's admission.
Further, some oppose the accession of a largely Muslim country.
Iceland applied to join the EU in July 2009 following an economic downturn. Prior to that, its relations with the EU were defined by its membership of the European Economic Area (EEA), which gave it access to the EU's single market, and the Schengen treaty. As a result of the membership of the EEA, Iceland already applies many major economic EU laws and negotiations are expected to proceed rapidly (although 2005 research by the EFTA Secretariat found the exact percentage of laws adopted to be only 6.5%; see below for European Commission assessment).
The first annual report on negotiations was published in November 2010; the main issues at stake remain the fisheries sector and whale hunting.
Albania applied for EU membership on 28 April 2009. Officially recognised by the EU as a "potential candidate country", Albania started negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) in 2003. SAA was signed on 12 June 2006 and entered force on 1 April 2009, thus completing the first major step towards EU membership.
Following the same path of the recently admitted Central European and Mediterranean countries in 2004 and 2007, Albania has been extensively engaged with EU institutions, and joined NATO as a full member in 2009. It has also maintained its position as a stability factor and a strong ally of European Union and USA in the troubled and divided region of the Balkans.