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EU enlargement

Accession to the European Union is a central political goal for many countries because of the numerous benefits it has for citizens and the economic strength of the Union. EU enlargement is also a key component in the development of the European Union.

There are further countries wanting to become members of the EU

There were six founding members - Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Twenty-two more countries then joined the EU in a total of five rounds of enlargement between 1973 and 2013. After the United Kingdom's withdrawal on 31 January 2020, the European Union now has 27 member states.

Seven other countries currently have prospects of joining the EU: Turkey and the six Western Balkan countries of Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, the Republic of North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo. The EU is currently holding accession negotiations with three of these candidates: Turkey, Montenegro and Serbia. The EU member states have decided to start negotiations with Albania and the Republic of North Macedonia soon. The candidate countries must systematically reform their legal systems step by step to come in line with the acquis and code of values of the European Union on the basis of 35 negotiation chapters.

Two of these chapters, Chapter 2 (freedom of movement for workers ) and Chapter 19 (social policy and employment) require a comparison with European social and labour law. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is primarily responsible for this policy field for the German side. We thus follow the Commission's negotiations on these two chapters, closely observing and monitoring the reforms that these enlargement countries undertake in implementing the full acquis communitaire in the field of labour and social affairs.

Chapter 2 regulates the free movement of workers. Every candidate for accession to the EU must make it legally possible for all EU citizens to work within its territory. Furthermore, migrant EU workers must be treated the same as national workers in terms of working conditions, social benefits and tax advantages. Insured persons and their family members are entitled to statutory social benefits when moving within the EU.
In the field of social policy, chapter 19 brings the legal systems of the candidates for accession to the EU gradually in line with EU law and the required administrative capacity. This harmonisation of laws covers the EU’s standards in the fields of labour law, occupational health and safety, social dialogue, employment policy, social security, social inclusion, equality and anti-discrimination at work and the European Social Fund (ESF).

Turkey Secretariat

German-Turkish relations are particularly important because more than three million people of Turkish descent live in Germany. More than half of them have German citizenship, too. These deep interpersonal connections mean there is great mobility between the two countries.

Turkey's interest in enhanced cooperation is also a result of the necessity to implement and apply the EU acquis communautaire. Both sides want to eliminate the comparatively high unemployment rates among persons of Turkish origin and increase the participation rate of young people in vocational training programmes, which remains low. A better and more targeted approach to dual training and higher education is needed already at school.

The recognition of Turkish diplomas and certificates in Germany is also important. This is especially important for Turkish nationals moving to Germany for family reunification.

Last but not least, it is important to ensure the practical implementation of the German-Turkish social security agreement. Both Ministries of Labour and Social Affairs cooperate, among other things, in the framework of a German-Turkish interministerial working group. The integration of people with Turkish roots into the German labour market is high on the agenda of the meetings.