What is Article 49?
Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union sets out the procedure for countries to join the EU. It is the opposite of Article 50, which the UK went through when it left the EU. Article 49 sets out that prospective member states must be committed to promoting EU values and meet the so-called ‘Copenhagen criteria’. Applications must be made to the EU Council, which then informs the Parliament and Commission. EU governments must agree unanimously before a new member state is permitted and the Parliament must also agree by an absolute majority of its members. Negotiations are undertaken by the Commission on behalf of member states according to the negotiating mandate agreed by EU governments. In 2020, the EU updated the accession process to place greater emphasis on democratic fundamentals of applicant countries and streamline the process.