Overview of EU - Croatia relations
The international recognition of the Republic of Croatia on 15 January 1992 marked the beginning of the development of relations between Croatia and the European Union. The intensification of these relations towards the end of 1999 and particularly from the beginning of 2000 led to the signing of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) on 29 October 2001. Croatia was the second country to sign a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU and that agreement represented the first formal contractual step in institutionalising the relationship of Croatia with the EU. The agreement entered into force on 1 February 2005.
Following Croatia's application for membership in the European Union on 21 February 2003 in Athens, the Council of the EU asked the Commission to prepare an opinion on Croatia's application bid. Based on a positive opinion by the European Commission, the European Council granted Croatia the status of candidate country for membership.
In December 2004, the European Council sets 17 March 2005 as starting date for negotiations, provided full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) is achieved. In the absence of a confirmation of full cooperation, the starting date for opening negotiations is postponed. However, a Negotiating Framework is adopted so that negotiations can start when full cooperation with the ICTY is achieved.
After a positive report by the then ICTY Chief Prosecutor, the Council concluded that conditions for starting negotiations had been met and negotiations were officially launched on 3 October 2005.
After successful negotiations EU Member States on 30 June decided to close the accession negotiations with Croatia, which allowed for the signature of the Accession Treaty on 9 December 2011. At a referendum held on 22 January 2012, 66.27% of Croatian voters supported Croatia's accession to the European Union. With 136 "Yes" votes, Croatian Parliament unanimously ratified on 9 March the Accession Treaty of the Republic of Croatia to the European Union. Following the ratification procedure in all EU Member States and Croatia, accession is foreseen for 1 July 2013.
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