European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement

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The Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement is the member of the European Commission in charge of overseeing the accession process of prospective new member states and relations with those bordering the European Union (EU). The present Commissioner, as of December 2019, is Olivér Várhelyi.

Currently there are five candidate countries and three who have either applied for membership or are preparing via the Stabilisation and Association Process countries. Most of them are located in the western Balkans except and Turkey. Neighbourhood Policy is directed towards those members along the EU's eastern border and on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.


Olli Rehn became enlargement commissioner in 2004, following the enlargement to 10 new countries. In 2007 he oversaw the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the Union. In 2004, candidate status was granted to Croatia. In 2005, candidate status was granted to Macedonia.

As Commissioner, Rehn has been involved with the enlargement to the western Balkans and Turkey, encouraging reform on those countries. 2006 saw the independence of Montenegro and separate accession talks starting with them.

In 2007 he welcomed the UN proposal on Kosovo by Martti Ahtisaari which advocated near-independence to the region and would have seen separate accession negotiations with the Union.

The Commissioner has also been involved in the reunification of Cyprus, bringing Northern Cyprus into the European Union. Rehn's head of cabinet was Timo Pesonen and his deputy head was Maria Åsenius.


Croatia acceded to the Union in 2013.

List of commissioners[edit]

The enlargement portfolio began to be created out of the regionalised foreign policy posts. In particular the Santer Commission post for relations with central and eastern Europe as those countries began applying to join. The Neighbourhood Policy element was created in 2004 as part of the External Relations portfolio. When that portfolio was absorbed by the High Representative in 2009, Neighbourhood Policy was transferred to Trade and then to Enlargement in 2010 under the Second Barroso Commission.

Commissioner Country Period Party Commission
Günter Verheugen  Germany
PES Prodi Commission
Janez Potočnik  Slovenia
ALDE Prodi Commission
Olli Rehn  Finland
ALDE Barroso Commission
Štefan Füle  Czech Republic
PES Barroso Commission
Johannes Hahn  Austria
EPP Juncker Commission
Olivér Várhelyi  Hungary
EPP Von der Leyen Commission

See also[edit]

External links[edit]