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Darko Bandic/AP

Croatia given provisional green light to join EU

Negotiations on allowing Croatia to become the 28th member are set to wrap up before the end of the month.

EUROPEAN UNION LEADERS have given Croatia their provisional approval to join the European Union, becoming the 28th member of the union.

European council president Herman van Rompuy said Croatia had “turned the fundamentals of the State inside out to be fully aligned with European standards,” a process which had convinced the 27 heads of government to allow it enter the bloc.

Negotiations on completing an accession treaty could be concluded by the end of the month, with the ratification process among existing member states then likely to take around two full years.

Each existing member state is required to approve the accession treaty, but Croatia is not likely to face any major obstacles to joining – especially when the current 27 heads of government have already indicated their happiness with a Croatian deal.

Irish connection

The only other obstacle will be the holding of a referendum in Croatia, which under national law must be held within 30 days of the accession treaty being signed.

Bloomberg quoted Croatian prime minister Jadranka Kosor as saying the provisional approval was a “historic” moment for Croatia, which would “give us strength to continue with the hard work”.

Van Rompuy said the Croatian model could serve as inspiration for other Western Balkan states hoping to join the EU.

Croatia will be the second former Yugoslav republic, after Slovenia, to join the Union. Slovenia was one of ten countries to join the union in May 2004, during Ireland’s last presidency of the Council of the European Union.

If all of those hurdles are met, Croatia will join the EU on July 1, 2013 – just as Ireland’s next six-month presidency comes to an end.

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