Do they know something we don’t? Croatia becomes 28th state in the EU
Croatia today signed an accession treaty that will bring it into the EU in 2013 after the bloc’s 27 member nations agreed.
EU president Herman Van Rompuy welcomed the signing of the accession document, saying Croatia will be an ‘active observer’ in all EU forums until it becomes a full member 18 months from now. ‘Today is a historic day for Croatia and the EU. Croatia is set to become the 28th state of the union,’ he told EU leaders at the signing ceremony.
Croatia’s entry talks lasted seven years and were held up repeatedly due to territorial disputes with neighboring Slovenia and demands that it arrest remaining war crimes suspects. ‘Today Croatia is entering Europe, but more importantly Europe is entering Croatia,’ Croatian President Ivo Josipovic told the heads of government of all 27 current members, who were attending a summit focused on saving their common currency.
British Prime Minister David Cameron also announcemed after an all night sitting that he had ‘effectively wielded the veto’ to prevent Brussels being handed more powers. Croatia will become the second nation from the former Yugoslavia to join the EU after Slovenia in 2004.
Meanwhile, officials said EU leaders may postpone making Serbia a candidate for the bloc until their next summit in March.
According to a draft resolution, Serbia would have to normalise by then relations with its former province of Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008, said the officials who spoke on usual condition of anonymity. Serbia had been widely expected to gain candidate status after extraditing the last of 46 war crimes suspects earlier this year.
But a recent outbreak of violence in northern Kosovo, where hard-liners among the Serb minority have blocked roads and clashed with NATO peacekeepers, appears to have put that on hold. ‘EU leaders are just too busy with the euro crisis to waste too much time discussing Serbia’s status,’ one of the officials said. Another former Yugoslav country, tiny Montenegro was likely to receive the green light to open accession negotiations next June on condition that it continues a crackdown on organized crime and corruption. The nation of 620,000 people received candidate status a year ago.