On July 1, 2013, the Republic of Croatia will become the twenty-eighth Member State of the European Union (EU). Croatia’s accession is the result of ten years of rigorous efforts, which started with its application for membership in 2003. Originally, Croatia had been aiming for a 2007 accession date. The negotiations, however, turned out to be more difficult than expected and, most notably, were prolonged for ten months by unresolved and long-running border and banking disputes with its northern neighbor, the EU Member State of Slovenia.
The current EU Member States ultimately signed Croatia’s Accession Treaty in December 2011. A referendum on EU accession was held in Croatia on January 22, 2012, with 66.27% of participants voting in favor of Croatia joining the EU. After a lengthy monitoring process, the European Commission (the “Commission”) confirmed in its final Monitoring Report on Croatia’s accession preparations issued on March 26, 2013 that Croatia has completed the ten priority actions identified in the Commission’s previous Comprehensive Monitoring Report. These actions include commitments in the area of competition, and the judiciary and fundamental rights of justice, freedom and security. At the same time, Croatia is generally meeting the conditions and requirements arising from the accession negotiations in all 35 acquis chapters. The Commission also noted that it was confident that the country will be ready for EU membership on July 1, 2013 and that the “EU membership is an additional incentive to continue reforms in Croatia. Building on the achievements to-date, Croatia is expected to continue developing its track record in the field of the rule of law, notably in the fight against corruption.”
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