Today Foreign Minister Urmas Paet introduced the draft bill of Croatia’s European Union accession treaty to the Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu).
Paet stated that European Union enlargement has been one of Estonia’s foreign policy priorities. “We hope that Croatia’s success will inspire other Western Balkan countries to take the necessary steps and continue making reforms for EU integration,” added Foreign Minister Paet.
Foreign Minister Paet stated that the European Union’s enlargement to 28 member states will increase security, expand the internal market, and also widen the free movement of people, goods and services. “We feel that all European countries that fulfil the necessary requirements must get the opportunity to join the European Union. We hope that Croatia will soon be followed by Iceland as the next new member state,” he added.
Croatia’s deadline for EU accession is set on 1 July 2013. The accession treaty will come into effect when all parties have given their ratification letters to the Italian Foreign Ministry. Currently the treaty has been ratified by eight member states – Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Italy, Malta, Latvia, Lithuania, and Cyprus. The Croatian parliament ratified the accession treaty on 9 March. Prior to that a referendum on EU accession took place in Croatia, in which 66% voted in favour of accession.
The European Union started accession negotiations with Croatia on 3 October 2005. Negotiations were concluded on 30 June 2011 at the accession conference held on the ministerial level, during which the last negotiation chapters were closed. The accession treaty was signed at the European Council meeting on 9 December 2011.