Stabilisation and Association Process
In talks with countries that have expressed a wish to join the European Union, the EU typically concludes Association Agreements in exchange for commitments to political, economic, trade, or human rights reform in that country. In exchange, the country may be offered tariff-free access to some or all EU markets (industrial goods, agricultural products, etc.), and financial or technical assistance.
Stabilisation and Association agreements are part of the EU Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) and European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). At present, the countries of the Western Balkans are the focus of the SAP. Specific Stabilisation and Association Agreements (SAA) have been implemented with various Balkan countries (see below) which explicitly include provisions for future EU membership of the country involved. SAAs are similar in principle to the Europe Agreements signed with the Central and Eastern European countries in the 1990s and to the Association Agreement with Turkey.
SAAs are based mostly on the EU's acquis communautaire and predicated on its promulgation in the cooperating states legislation. The depth of the policy harmonisation expected by SAA is less than for EU member states; some policy areas in the Acquis may not be covered by a given SAA.
Association agreements must be ratified by the associating state and all EU member states.
The EU's relations with the Western Balkans states (Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina) were moved from the "External Relations" to the "Enlargement" policy segment in 2005. These states currently are not recognised as candidate countries, but only as "potential candidate countries". This is a consequence of the advancement of the Stabilisation and Association process.
Stabilisation and Association Process 
|Croatia ||Albania ||Montenegro1 ||Bosnia and
(under UNSCR 1244)3
|SAA negotiations start||2000-04-05||2000-11-24||2003-01-31||2005-10-10||2005-11-25||2005-10-10||(?)|
|SAP state ratification||2001-04-27||2002-01-30||2006-10-09||2007-11-14||2008-06-20||2008-09-22||(?)|
|entry into force||2001-06-01||2002-03-01||2006-12-01||2008-01-01||2008-07-01||2010-02-01||(?)|
|Notification of the EC of SAA ratification by:|
|Bulgaria||entered the EU later||2008-05-30||2009-03-13||2010-08-12||(?)|
|Cyprus||entered the EU later||2008-05-30||2008-11-20||2009-07-02||2010-11-26||(?)|
|Czech Republic||entered the EU later||2008-05-07||2009-02-19||2009-07-23||2011-01-28||(?)|
|Estonia||entered the EU later||2007-10-17||2007-11-22||2008-09-11||2010-08-19||(?)|
|Hungary||entered the EU later||2007-04-23||2008-05-14||2008-10-22||2010-11-16||(?)|
|Latvia||entered the EU later||2006-12-19||2008-10-17||2009-11-12||2011-05-30||(?)|
|Lithuania||entered the EU later||2007-05-17||2009-03-04||2009-05-04||(2013)||(?)|
|Malta||entered the EU later||2008-04-21||2008-12-11||2010-01-07||2010-07-06||(?)|
|Poland||entered the EU later||2007-04-14||2009-02-06||2010-04-07||2012-01-13||(?)|
|Romania||entered the EU later||2009-01-15||2010-01-08||2012-05-22||(?)|
|Slovakia||entered the EU later||2007-07-20||2008-07-29||2009-03-17||2010-11-11||(?)|
|Slovenia||entered the EU later||2007-01-18||2008-02-07||2009-03-10||2010-12-07||(?)|
|SAA entry into force||2004-04-01||2005-02-01||2009-04-01||2010-05-01||(2013)4||(2013)||(?)|
(brackets): earliest possible date
1 Montenegro started negotiations in November 2005 while a part of Serbia and Montenegro (SiM). Separate technical negotiations were conducted regarding issues sub-state organizational competency. Mandate for direct negotiations with Montenegro established in July 2006. Direct negotiations were initiated on 26 September 2006 and concluded on 1 December 2006.
2 Serbia started negotiations in November 2005 while part of SiM, with a modified mandate from July 2006.
3 Since Kosovo declared independance from Serbia on 17 February 2008 the EU has been divided on their policy towards Kosovo; some EU states recognise its sovereignty and others do not. The EU launched a Stabilisation Tracking Mechanism for Kosovo on 6 November 2002 with the aim to align policy in Kosovo with EU standards. On 10 October 2012 the European Commission found that there were no legal obstacles to Kosovo signing a SAA with the EU, as universal recognition is not required for such an agreement, and recommended for SAA negotiations to start as soon as Kosovo had made further progress on some remaining policy issues in the four areas: Rule of law, Public administration, Protection of minorities, and Trade.
4 Although ratified by all member states, the entry into force of Bosnia's SAA has been delayed due to the fact that Bosnia has yet to make the required constitutional amendments.
See also 
- Future enlargement of the European Union
- European Neighbourhood Policy
- European Union Association Agreement
- Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe (SP for SEE)
- Central European Free Trade Agreement
- SAp country statistics
- "Enlargement: Pre Acceding Countries & Candidate countries: Potential Candidate Countries". European Union. Archived from the original on February 23, 2006.
- "SAA Agreement with Macedonia". Council of the European Union. Retrieved 2010-04-20.
- "SAA Agreement with Croatia". Council of the European Union. Retrieved 2010-04-20.
- "SAA Agreement with Albania". Council of the European Union. Retrieved 2010-04-20.
- "SAA Agreement with Montenegro". Council of the European Union. Retrieved 2010-04-20.
- "SAA Agreement with Bosnia". Council of the European Union. Retrieved 2010-04-20.
- "SAA Agreement with Serbia". Council of the European Union. Retrieved 2010-04-20.
- "EU, Montenegro complete negotiations on pre-membership deal to bring country closer to bloc". International Herald Tribune. The Associated Press. 2006-12-01. Archived from the original on 2008-09-25. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
- "Feasibility Study for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the European Union and Kosovo" (PDF). European Commission. 10 October 2012. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
- "Press: Bosnia-EU relations put on hold". daily.tportal.hr. 2011-04-26. Retrieved 2011-06-07.