Association agreements are international treaties concluded by the European Union and a third country as the basis for a particular relationship. The context and design of these agreements are different. Stabilization and association agreements are part of the EU Stabilisation and Association Process (PSA) and the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). At present, the countries of the Western Balkans are at the heart of the PSA. Specific Stabilization and Association Agreements (ASAs) have been implemented with various Balkan countries, which contain explicit provisions for the country`s future accession to the EU. The SAAs resemble in principle the European agreements signed in the 1990s with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the association agreement with Turkey. Since then, a number of agreements between the EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina have come into force: visa facilitation and readmission agreements (2008), interim agreement on accompanying measures (2008). The Stabilization and Association Agreement (ASA) has been ratified and enters into force on 1 June 2015. Countries wishing to cooperate closely with the EU can enter into a stabilisation and association agreement with the European Union. Such agreements are particularly common in trade policy. Different reciprocal rights and obligations are conferred on the partner depending on the design of the contract. Association agreements generally also provide for convergence and cooperation in the field of labour and social affairs. The federal Department of Labour and Social Affairs is involved in the design and subsequent evaluation of agreements in this area.
So far, this has been particularly important for the Association Agreement with Turkey (Ankara Agreement: 1963) and those with all Western Balkan countries (Macedonia: 2004). Albania: 2009; Montenegro: 2010; Bosnia and Herzegovina: 2015; Serbia: 2013; Kosovo: 2016). These agreements have recently been concluded with three Eastern Partnership countries (Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova). The EU`s stabilisation and association agreements with third countries have different priorities. Some encourage convergence in order to prepare for possible EU membership at a later date, for example in the case of Turkey, Montenegro and Serbia. Others are aimed at supporting the economic development of partners, as in the case of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. Still others aim to promote free trade between the two sides while harmonizing the legal order of partners with EU law, for example the agreements establishing a European Economic Area with the countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Norway, Iceland and Switzerland.