The enlargement process is not completed. Currently, accession negotiations with six candidate countries such as Albania, Iceland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey are under way.
Austria supports in particular the efforts undertaken by the countries of the Western Balkans for joining the EU. Austria has been one of the main beneficiaries of the so-called Eastern enlargements of 2004 and 2007 and is geographically and economically in a pole position for the Western Balkans. Especially Austrian businesses have early recognised and seized the opportunities in these countries: Today, Austria is the largest foreign investor in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, and Slovenia and among the top foreign investors in the remaining countries. This goes hand in hand with the creation of jobs in Austria. Especially during periods of economic downturn, enlargement can offer new opportunities for people and businesses, thus supporting economic recovery and growth.
Iceland submitted the formal application for membership in 2009 and accession negotiations began in 2010. In 2013, the newly elected Icelandic government decided to put the accession negotiations on hold.
Albania submitted the formal application for EU membership in 2009. In June 2014, Albania was granted the EU candidate status. The next step will be the official opening of accession negotiations.
Macedonia was granted candidate status in 2005. The European Commission has repeatedly recommended the opening of accession negotiations. Some EU Member States argue that a satisfying solution to the pending name issue has to be found before the negotiations can be launched.
Montenegro submitted the formal application for EU membership in 2008, two years after declaring her independence. After a positive recommendation by the European Commission, Montenegro was granted the candidate status in 2010. Accession negotiations were formally opened in June 2012.
Serbia submitted the formal application for EU membership in 2009 and was granted candidate status in March 2012. Accession negotiations were opened in January 2014.
Turkey already submitted the formal application for EU membership in 1987. Accession negotiations have been held since 2005, currently 14 out of the 35 chapters have been opened and one has been provisionally closed. The relatively slow pace of the accession negotiations compared to other countries reflects the complex reform process in Turkey.
Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo have been identified as potential candidates for EU membership and have a European prospective. The two countries do not yet fulfil the criteria necessary for granting the candidate status and opening accession negotiations.
In the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the process of EU integration has stagnated. Firstly, the constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina has to be brought in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights. Then, the Stabilisation and Association Agreement may enter into force and further steps towards EU membership can be taken.
Kosovo has been a potential candidate since her declaration of independence in 2008. The negotiations for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement are currently under way.