Croatia signed a treaty in Brussels today to become the 28th member of the European Union.
This puts the country on track to join the EU in July 2013, the Financial Times reported. Croatian voters must still approve the move in a referendum, expected to be held in February, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. Then its membership must be ratified by the legislatures of EU member nations, The Associated Press reported.
Croatian President Ivo Josipovic and Premier Jadranka Kosor signed the document with the heads of state of the 27 EU nations, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.
“Croatia had to overcome war to join the European Union, and that is not only a Croatian triumph, but the triumph of European peacemaking,” Josipovic said, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek:
The ceremony caps a six-year effort to follow Slovenia, a former Yugoslav federal partner, into the EU and puts Croatia closer to full integration two decades after the region was engulfed in a civil war. Western investors including Germany’s Siemens AG and Sweden’s Ericsson AB count on expansion into the Balkans as EU growth stalls over the sovereign debt crisis.
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The other former Yugoslav republics – Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia – are also seeking membership, the AP reported. The EU announced it had given the go-ahead for Montenegro to start entry negotiations in June, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. Meanwhile Serbia was notified that its application for official candidacy status would be delayed until March because of ongoing violence in Kosovo.
"We will continue to assess the situation ... with the clear aim to grant Serbia the status of candidate nation," EU President Herman van Rompuy said, according to the AP.
The Financial Times noted that the Croatia ceremony was a welcome break from the tense atmosphere at the EU summit meeting following the UK’s decision to veto the idea of negotiations defining a new fiscal union.
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