Conclusions of the Council of the European Union on Croatia
At a meeting held on 5 December in Brussels, the General Affairs Council adopted conclusions on enlargement and on the stabilisation and association process. With regards to Croatia, the Council concluded as follows:
"The Council welcomes the successful completion of the accession negotiations with Croatia on 30 June 2011, which marks an historic step on Croatia's path towards the EU and brings a new momentum to the European perspective of the Western Balkans.
The Council notes with satisfaction the completion of the work on the Accession Treaty. The Council welcomes the positive Opinion of the Commission of 12 October 2011, the European Parliament's consent of 1 December 2011, and looks forward to the signature of the Accession Treaty on 9 December 2011 in Brussels. Pending the successful conclusion of ratification procedures, the Council looks forward to welcoming Croatia as a new member as of 1 July 2011.
The Council takes note of the findings and recommendations presented by the Commission in its 2011 Progress Report on Croatia and of the updated monitoring tables submitted to the Council on 27 October 2011. The Council notes with satisfaction that Croatia has reached a high level of preparedness for membership and encourages Croatia to continue in its efforts in addressing all the issues identified therein, notably in the field of judiciary and fundamental rights, justice, freedom and security and competition policy. Implementation of structural reforms to improve the growth potential and international competitiveness of the economy needs to be intensified. Croatia also needs to continue building on the reforms it has implemented and the track records it has developed during the course of the accession negotiations.
Croatia's accession confirms the EU's commitment to the European perspective of all the Western Balkan countries and will contribute to strengthening stability, freedom and prosperity in Europe. The Council welcomes Croatia's declaration on promoting European values in South-East Europe and in particular Croatia's commitment that bilateral issues should not obstruct the accession process of candidate countries. Croatia is expected to continue to play an active role in regional cooperation in the Western Balkans, including in areas such as refugee return, judicial cooperation as well as border management. Bearing in mind the importance of good neighbourly relations, the Council encourages Croatia to continue solving all outstanding bilateral and regional issues, including succession issues, building on the progress achieved so far. The Council regrets recent statements and measures that could call into question the importance of reconciliation and the need to serve justice through the prosecution of war crimes and calls on political leaders to avoid such statements and measures, in line with commitments taken by Croatia during the accession negotiations. Full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) remains essential.
In line with European Council Conclusions of 23-24 June 2011, the Council stresses the importance it attaches to the monitoring of Croatia's fulfilment of all the commitments undertaken in the accession negotiations, including those which must be fulfilled before the date of accession, and Croatia's continued preparations to assume the responsibilities of membership upon accession. The Council looks forward to the next six-monthly assessment to be issued by the Commission in spring 2012 and a Comprehensive Monitoring Report in autumn 2012 in line with the provisions of the Accession Treaty."