Eight countries are hoping to follow in Croatia's footsteps and become members of the European Union, dpa reported.
The bloc's executive, the European Commission, on Wednesday presented new reports on their progress. Below are some highlights.
The EU's ministers for European affairs will consider the commission's recommendations on Tuesday, with EU leaders expected to follow suit at a December summit in Brussels.
ALBANIA: Applied for membership in 2009. The commission believes it has made enough progress on reforms to be granted candidate status, but "on the understanding that (it) continues to take action in the fight against organized crime and corruption." It also has to meet other goals to then proceed to the opening of accession talks.
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA: Has worked on bolstering EU ties for more than a decade, but progress has ground to a halt and the multi-ethnic country remains only a potential EU candidate. The commission said there is no "shared vision by political representatives" in Bosnia. Some EU funding has been suspended because of the stalemate.
ICELAND: Applied for membership in 2009 and launched accession talks in 2010, after decades of economic cooperation with the EU. Its fisheries industry was among the key challenges. But in May, the new Icelandic government put the negotiations on hold pending a national referendum. The commission said it is ready to resume the process.
KOSOVO: Five EU member states do not recognize the independence of the former Serbian breakaway province, making EU membership a distant prospect. But the bloc is set to launch negotiations with Kosovo on a stabilization and association agreement on October 28, partially as a reward for its progress in normalizing ties with Serbia.
MACEDONIA (FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF): Applied for membership in 2004 and was granted candidate status in 2005. On Wednesday, the commission recommended for a fifth time that accession talks start. But in the past, Greece has blocked the move due to conflict over the country's name, which it shares with a Greek region.
MONTENEGRO: Applied for membership in 2008, was granted candidate status in 2010 and started accession talks in June 2012. Two of 35 negotiating chapters have been opened and provisionally closed. The commission warned the country that further progress is particularly needed on tackling "high-level corruption and organized crime."
SERBIA: Applied for membership in 2009 and was granted candidate status in March 2012, following progress in normalizing ties with its former province Kosovo. Accession talks are expected to be launched by January. The commission said "visible and sustainable progress" with Kosovo remains key, as do democratic reforms.
TURKEY: Applied for membership in 1987, was declared eligible in 1997 and started accession talks in 2005. But there was no progress in the last three years - mostly due to Franco-German opposition and tensions with Cyprus. The commission wants the EU to follow through on a promise to open a new negotiating chapter this year.
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