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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)

Accession criteria

European Commission - Enlargement - Accession criteria

The accession criteria, or Copenhagen criteria (after the European Council in Copenhagen in 1993 which defined them), are the essential conditions all candidate countries must satisfy to become a member state. These are:

  • political criteria: stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities;
  • economic criteria: a functioning market economy and the capacity to cope with competition and market forces;
  • administrative and institutional capacity to effectively implement the acquis* and ability to take on the obligations of membership.

The Union's capacity to absorb new members, while maintaining the momentum of European integration, is also an important consideration.
The EU reserves the right to decide when a candidate country* has met these criteria and when the EU is ready to accept the new member.
For more details, see the following sections on our website: