The European Union summit has given the green light to Croatia’s accession, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy said on 24 June 2011 in Brussels.
The negotiations will be concluded by 30 June, and the treaty will be signed before the end of this year, the President said.
"In later years, the European Council will be remembered as the meeting, which paved the way for Croatia’s membership in the European Union," Mr Van Rompuy said in the press conference following the summit, which he chaired jointly with the Hungarian and Croatian Prime Ministers.
"I have the honour to convey to you the good news on behalf of the twenty-seven heads of state and governments that Croatia will become the 28th Member State of the European Union,” Mr Van Rompuy said to Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor.
The European Council gave the necessary political support for concluding the accession negotiations with Croatia, which is due on 30 June; and signing the accession treaty between the EU Member States and Croatia before the end of 2011.
"Croatia demonstrates that with political will and strong national consensus and dedicated work it is possible to overcome the shadows of the past and to move toward membership of the European Union," Mr Van Rompuy said, adding that he is sure that Croatia will continue to pursue the necessary reforms, up to the accession date and beyond. The European Council’s President also confirmed the commitment as regards the European vocation of the whole region.
President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, spoke about a historic moment and reiterated that the Commission had proposed for the conclusion of the remaining open chapters of the accession negotiation. Mr Barosso appreciated Croatia’s work meeting the strict requirements and joining the EU in July 2013.
Both Messrs Barroso and Van Rompuy have thanked the Hungarian Presidency for its committed work on the promotion of Croatia’s accession negotiations. He also congratulated Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor, on their successful conclusion.
Croatia’s Prime Minister has expressed her commitment to the reforms, which were conducted in order to facilitate the accession. She pointed out that, “the changes Croatia has launched in the interests of the accession are irreversible”. Specifically, she mentioned the reform of the judiciary and the fight against corruption. These matters triggered the longest debates, since the EU had been dissatisfied with Croatia’s achievements for some time. "We will continue to work hard not only until the point of accession, but afterwards as well,” Ms Kosor said.
She stressed that the accession is of great importance, not only for Croatia but also for the rest of the countries in the region, since it aids their integration efforts. "European integration is the only solution, which guarantees permanent peace and prosperity,” the Croatian Prime Minister said.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán congratulated the Croatian nation, the Government of Zagreb and Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor, personally. He acknowledged that the negotiations had been challenging and, at times, even hopeless.
Earlier at the press conference, following the European Council’s meeting, Mr Orbán pointed out that Hungarians will continue to play a key role in the issue of the Western Balkans. "Due to geographic and historical reasons, it is most natural, that out of the EU Member States, Hungary is one that has the mission to promote the EU membership of the Western Balkans. We are aware of this, and today we have fulfilled part of this mission with the accession of Croatia”, the Prime Minister said.
"We wish to contribute to the European Union’s courage, optimism and commitment for accepting the Western Balkans enclave, the region which is surrounded by either member states of the NATO or the European Union," he added.