EU enlargement and how to spread European values in candidate countries

Being a normative power, the EU often highlighted that despite its linguistic, cultural and religious diversity, people can come together by cherishing common values. This is also applicable to the process of enlargement.

In order to get access to the EU’s prosperity and stability, the Commission requires candidate countries to ensure the European values of democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for minorities. Promoting such values in its neighbourhood is essential to strengthen its internal stability, especially in times when disintegrative forces are starting to join government and thus threaten the very core on which the EU is built on. In turn, if candidate countries succeed in inheriting a strong respect for human rights and protection of minorities, this strengthens the position of such groups not only within the country but in the whole Union. Looking at the situation in candidate countries, many improvements still need to be made. The potential candidates Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Kosovo are on the list of countries where specific minorities such as Roma are most endangered. Even higher at risk are minority groups in Turkey, with whom the EU is still officially negotiating membership. Moreover, Turkey as well as Macedonia with whom the EU is pending to start negotiations have no laws against discrimination of LGBT+ communities. 

The goal of this working group is thus to assess how especially the promotion of human and minority rights in the enlargement process can be strengthened. This contributes not only to increasing human rights standards overall, but also to improve the Commission’s efforts to get the European message across and strengthen its core values.