The IPKat found this convenient summary of the present state of affairs regarding enlargement of the European Union.
Above right: The EU Commission's proposal for an enlarged Europe. Forthcoming accession zones are coloured pink, orange, navy, yellow, teal and grey.
Presenting the enlargement strategy Olli Rehn, Commissioner for enlargement (left) said:
“A carefully managed enlargement process is one of the EU’s most powerful and most successful policy tools. The pull of the EU helps the democratic and economic transformation of countries. All European citizens benefit from having neighbours that are stable democracies and prosperous market economies. The EU cannot abandon its responsibilities. But the pace of enlargement also has to take into consideration the EU’s absorption capacity”.The EU must remain rigorous in demanding fulfilment of its criteria, but fair in duly rewarding progress. Aspirant countries can only proceed from one stage of the process to the next once they have met the conditions for that stage. The Commission will assist the countries and monitor their progress.
The EU’s relations with Croatia and Turkey entered into a new phase on 3 October, when accession negotiations were opened. Negotiations will be based on the country’s own merits and their pace will depend on the country's progress in meeting the requirements for membership.
For the other countries of the Western Balkans, the Commission proposes a road map for realising their European perspectives, setting out the stages and conditions attached to each stage. Establishing a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU is a fundamental step in this process. Albania has made sufficient overall progress to establish implementation capacity, paving the way for concluding negotiations on such an agreement. Serbia and Montenegro have just opened SAA negotiations, and Bosnia and Herzegovina will do so shortly.
A country’s satisfactory track-record in implementing its SAA obligations (including the application of its trade-related provisions in the form of an Interim Agreement) will be an essential element for the EU to consider any membership application. Based on a Commission opinion, the EU may grant a country the status of candidate. The Commission recommends that the Council grants the status of candidate country to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Candidate status is a political recognition of a closer relationship with the EU, but it does not automatically mean that a country can start negotiations for EU membership. To do so, the country needs to reach a sufficient degree of general compliance with the membership criteria. In particular, the country needs to meet the political criteria, including full co-operation with the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia where relevant.
Kosovo's further progress towards the EU is also part of the enlargement strategy. European integration is essential to achieve a sustainable settlement on the status of Kosovo that reinforces the security and stability of the region.
The IPKat reminds readers from outside Europe that (i) Serbia and Montenegro is currently one jurisdiction but two separate republics; (ii) Bosnia and Herzegovina is a single state, housing three peoples (Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks) and divided into two administrative regions; (iii) the FYR of Macedonia is likely to be confused with the Macedonia which has remained within Greece and (iv) Kosovo is not yet a country, since it's still a province of Serbia, but the majority of its population originates from (v) Albania. No wonder we all get confused.
Merpel adds, the real reason for this post is to remind readers that pan-EU rights such as the Community trade mark and Community design are set for further expansion, as is the area within which Fortress Europe will practise internal exhaustion of IP rights but outside of which it will continue to fend off imports of even genuine goods if they lack the IP owner's authorisation.
There's still no sign of an official English translation of the French-only text of the European Court of Human Rights ruling of 11 October in the complaint brought by Anheuser-Busch against Portugal. The IPKat says thanks to all his readers who have sent brief notes and summaries of the decision - but what he wants is nothing short of the full judgment, made plain and available to all English-speakers.