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Croatia signs EU accession treaty: Photo Gallery

Author: Clive Leviev-Sawyer Date: Fri, Dec 09 2011 5536 Views
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Croatia signed on December 9 2011 its accession treaty with the European Union and if all goes according to plan, will join the bloc in July 2013.
Before the process progresses further, the country must within 30 days from December 9 approve in a referendum accession to the EU, and the treaty must be ratified by the current 27 EU member countries. Croatia has said that the referendum will be held in early 2012.
"You are warmly welcomed in the European family," European Council President Herman van Rompuy said at the signing ceremony.
Van Rompuy said that the date was a historic one for Croatia and the EU.
European Commission President Jose Barroso said that Croatia was the best proof of how strong and successful the transformative power of the EU’s enlargement policy can be.
"Today, we therefore also send a clear signal to Croatia's neighbours: A signal that our European offer is on the table; that hard work pays off; that the benefits of European integration are within reach if our partners stay the course," Barroso said.
"Enlargement, provided that all the relevant conditions are met, will thus continue to serve as an anchor of stability, a driver of democracy and the rule of law, and as a catalyst for economic prosperity."
The accession treaty was signed by the 27 EU heads of state and government, in Brussels for a European Council meeting, and by the Croatian president Ivo Josipovic and current prime minister Jadranka Kosor.
During the interim period between the signature of the accession treaty and the actual date of accession the work on Croatia's preparations for EU membership continues.
Croatia needs to complete the remaining implementation of the commitments taken during the accession negotiations.
Through the closing of accession negotiations and by finalising the accession treaty, EU| member states have given a mandate to the European Commission to carefully monitor the progress Croatia is making in all the areas covered.
The Accession Treaty includes provisions which allow for appropriate measures to be taken in case problems are identified during the monitoring process.
Until its accession, Croatia will have an active observer status in most of the European Council working groups as well as Commission committees. This allows Croatia to become familiar with the working methods of the EU institutions and to become involved in the decision-making process.
As from the date it is expected to join on July 1 2013, the EU acquis, or the body of EU laws and standards, will apply to Croatia, in the same way as it is binding on all EU member states.
In some areas the EU and Croatia have nonetheless negotiated specific arrangements to enable the country's smooth integration into the EU.
The most important of these relate to freedom of movement for workers, free movement of capital, competition policy, financial services, transport and internal borders. Where transitional periods have been agreed, they are limited in time and scope. The duration of these arrangements is different for different policy areas.
Croatia submitted its EU membership application in February 2003. In April 2004, the European Commission issued a positive opinion on Croatia’s application for EU membership and recommended the opening of accession negotiations.
Croatia got candidate country status in June 2004, accession negotiations started in October 2005 and on June 30 2011, an Inter-Governmental Conference closed the accession negotiations.
The European Commission adopted in October 2011 a favourable opinion on Croatia's accession to the EU, and on December 1, the European Parliament agreed to the accession of Croatia.

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