EMCDDA's work with candidate and potential candidates to the EU

The EMCDDA cooperates with candidate and potential candidates to the EU. The current enlargement agenda of the European Union covers the countries of the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia) and Turkey**. The most recent EMCDDA-IPA 8 project was launched in January 2023.

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

**As Turkey is a full non-voting member of the EMCDDA Management Board and part of the EMCDDA's Reitox network, it is not part of the EMCDDA-IPA8 project.

More about the EMCDDA's work with candidate and potential candidates


The EMCDDA develops and implements technical cooperation projects financed by the Instrument of Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) of the European Commission. The ultimate goals of these projects are to familiarise the Western Balkans with EU policies and working methods and preparing them for participating in the work of the EMCDDA.

Technical cooperation between the EMCDDA and the Balkan region started in 2007 thanks to the programme of Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation (CARDS). This was followed by the first EMCDDA-IPA project (IPA1), which was initiated in March 2008 and focused solely on further preparing Croatia and Turkey to join the EMCDDA. The second IPA project (IPA2) was limited to the organisation of a major international high-level / ministerial conference with all IPA participating EU Agencies, NGOs and EC services.

The first IPA project with all Western Balkan partners as beneficiaries was IPA3 and it covered the period of 2009–2011. The project supported the establishment and/or strengthening of a national focal point with the aim to further integrate these NFPs in the Reitox network. The project also provided support to establish and strengthen the beneficiaries’ reporting capacity through data collection exercises and capacity building activities. Another important objective of the project was to strengthening the institutional relationship with the beneficiaries, namely in liaison with the EU Institutions and other International Organisations present in the region. Among the main outputs of this project, the EMCDDA made available an updated country overview for each beneficiary; updated information maps; a National Action Plan on Drug Information System; etc. It also co-financed ESPAD school surveys in Albania, Kosovo and Republika Srpska within Bosnia-Herzegovina and a first ever problem drug use estimate study report in Turkey; as well as a general population survey in Croatia. Also the Croatian National Drug Strategy has been evaluated with the support from the EMCDDA.

During the period of 2012–2018, the EMCDDA implemented other follow-up IPA projects, aiming at strengthening the activities and actions previously put in place at beneficiary level. The main objectives have been the same; i.e. consolidation of the institutionalization of the EMCDDA-Beneficiaries’ cooperation; fostering the scientific cooperation related to data collection, analysis and interpretation; and developing and promoting the added value of the EMCDDA- Beneficiaries cooperation.

The above-mentioned projects have allowed the EMCDDA to familiarise the beneficiaries with the EU key values and policies in what drug policy is concerned and, in particular, with the EU drug information system, its methodologies and tools.

Building on the achievements and results of the previous technical cooperation projects, the most recent EMCDDA-IPA 8 project was launched in January 2023 and covers the period of January 2023 – December 2026.

Background information

Country Status
Albania Candidate
Bosnia-Herzegovina Potential Candidate
North Macedonia Candidate
Kosovo Potential Candidate
Montenegro Candidate
Serbia Candidate
Turkey Candidate

What is a candidate country?

Candidate Countries (CC) mean that the status of country is “ready to start negotiations for membership”. Once the status is awarded, negotiations can start, but the start is not automatic.

Currently, we count four CC:

  • Albania: granted candidate country status for EU membership in June 2014.
  • North Macedonia: granted candidate country status for EU membership in 2005.
  • Montenegro: granted candidate country status for EU membership in December 2010.
  • Serbia: granted the candidate country status for EU membership on 1 march 2012.
  • Turkey: recognised as an EU candidate country on an equal footing with other candidate countries since December 1999.

What is a potential candidate ?

Potential Candidate (PC) means that the country has been identified as one of who has the natural perspective of joining the EU, but does not yet meet some basic criteria (rule of law, market economy, peace, etc.) to be awarded the status of 'candidate'.

At present, we count 2 PC:

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Kosovo

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