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Congratulations to Croatia!

After a long night of fractious negotiations which saw the UK write itself out of future European economic integration, there was a tangible shift of mood in Brussels this morning as Croatia signed its accession treaty with the European Union. It will become the 28th EU member state on 1 July 2013, just over ten years since lodging its membership application, and almost eight years after the negotiating process started.

It is a dramatic achievement for Croatia, which when I lived there in 1998 was still recovering from conflict and getting to grips with the social and economic changes needed to transform it into a modern European state. The EU's enlargement rules were changed after the 2004-07 enlargement to make this probably the toughest process that any candidate country has ever successfully gone through. I'm very glad to have assisted Croatia's Chief Negotiator, Vladimir Drobnjak, during the process.

There was an audible intake of breath when the Croatian prime minister, Jadranka Kosor, went up to sign the treaty this morning - neither at the beginning nor the end of the process, but in the middle, Hrvatska coming between France and Italy. She is on borrowed time, having lost last weekend's election, but it was a moment when local divisions, whether in Zagreb or Brussels, were put aside and the EU for once remembered the big picture of unity across the continent.

The EU leaders then went back to resolve other issues such as Serbia's troubled European aspirations, setting a date for Montenegro to begin membership negotiations, energy policy and admitting Romania and Bulgaria to Schengen. But from today on, Croatian officials will sit in all EU meetings along with the 27 current member states. I hope it won't be too long before other countries in their neighbourhood join them.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
willplant
Dec. 9th, 2011 03:29 pm (UTC)
What's your take on Cameron and today's developments?
nwhyte
Dec. 9th, 2011 04:31 pm (UTC)
willplant
Dec. 9th, 2011 04:35 pm (UTC)
Sorry - I missed that.

surliminal
Dec. 9th, 2011 10:48 pm (UTC)
You must feel very proud ;)
getawaywithit
Dec. 10th, 2011 08:12 am (UTC)
I just fear that by the time Croatia officially joins, they'll be able to take over the empty seats and offices left by the UK leaving...
sunnygirly21
Dec. 11th, 2011 11:10 am (UTC)
As Croatia's neighbour I can attest that they are by far not ready to enter the EU, if you follow their internal affairs, you'd be appalled by their political and economic situation. I think it is a big mistake to let them enter the EU so fast but then again, we never had a big say in it anyway.
nwhyte
Dec. 11th, 2011 11:17 am (UTC)
In general I agree that there is not a lot of popular consultation on these issues. But in this specific case, you guys had a referendum on it!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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