Soon Croatia’s flag may unfurl amid those of today’s European Union. The former Yugoslav state of 4.4 million people is a significant step closer to membership of the bloc. Brussels has proposed that the accession negotiations be finalised and an entry date set for mid-2013.
Štefan Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement, said: “We are confident that Croatia has reached the critical mass, has moved forward in such a way that the progress is sustainable.”
Zagreb still has to convince all of the EU’s 27 governments that it is ready to join them, especially that its efforts to combat corruption have gone far enough. But the European Commissioner for Enlargement left room for optimism.
Füle said: “[An anti-]corruption body has been set up and properly equipped and staffed; significant changes to public procurement law have been adopted, and also a way in which party financing is controlled have occurred, backed by an emerging track record.”
Independent since 1991, once admitted to the EU, Croatia would become the second state in the western Balkans to join the powerful bloc, after Slovenia, which became a member in 2004. All 35 chapters of negotiations to align Croatia with EU laws and standards have taken six years to achieve.