EU Leaders Agree: Croatia to Become EU's 28th Member in 2013Bulgaria in EU | June 24, 2011, Friday // 14:44| views
Hungary`s PM Viktor Orban, Croatian PM Jandraka Kosor, EU Council head Herman Van Rompuy and EC head Jose Manuel Barroso shake hands after the EU leaders gave the go-ahead for Croatia's EU accession, Brussels, June 24, 2011. EPA/BGNES
The leaders of the EU have decided in favor of wrapping up Croatia's accession negotiations by the end of June 2011, and of its accession to the Union, expected to materialize in July 1 2013.
Croatia's EU accession treaty is thus supposed to be signed by the end of 2011, which will then be followed by ratification by all 27 member states.
Croatia is thus expected to become the first new EU member state after Bulgaria and Romania joined the bloc on July 1, 2007. It will also become the second country from the former Yugoslavia to join the EU after Slovenia did so in 2004.
The EU Council did not technically commit to July 1, 2013, as the exact date of Croatia's EU accession but the date has been suggested by the European Commission.
Under insistence by France and the Netherlands, the EU leaders agreed that Croatia will be monitored up to its accession in problem areas, i.e. the judiciary and human rights. The precise capacity of the "pre-accession" monitoring mechanism of Croatia is still under discussion.
EU leaders declared that Croatia's EU entry will reinvigorate the chances of other countries in the Western Balkans to seek EU integration.
"I hope everything will be ready to welcome Croatia as the 28th member of the EU the first of July 2013," EC President Jose Manuel Barroso said at the end of a two-day summit of EU heads of government in Brussels.
"This future accession of Croatia brings new momentum to the European vocation of the countries in the Western Balkans," declared in turn European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.
"There are no reservations [about Croatia's EU accession], as we had with Bulgaria and Romania," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
Croatia has been negotiating for EU accession since 2005, and is wrapping up all 35 negotiating chapters 6 years later. Montengro, Serbia, Albania, Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina are all EU hopefuls.
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