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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso at the signature ceremony of the Accession Treaty of Croatia
Signature of the Accession Treaty of Croatia
Brussels, 9 December 2011
Prime Minister Kosor,
Ladies and Gentlemen
Today's signature of the Accession Treaty is an outstanding moment for the European Union - and for Croatia.
Today, we all acknowledge the hard work Croatia has done and its crowning success. I would like to pay tribute to its leaders who have accomplished this, but in particular to the Croatian people who remain such committed Europeans during the often difficult years of transition. The success we celebrate today is the success of the Croatian people!
Croatia has demonstrated that it met the strict conditions of the enlargement process. It will therefore rightly join our Union on 1st July 2013.
And, Croatia today is very different to the country that applied for accession a decade ago.
It is ready to shoulder the substantial responsibilities of EU membership. It meets the Copenhagen political criteria, which were always a particular focus of the Commission's work. Ensuring that democratic principles, fundamental rights and the rule of law are respected and further strengthened was and is vital – for us but even more so for Croatia's own development and prosperity.
This reform momentum now needs to be maintained. The Commission will continue to closely monitor progress all the way to accession and will assist Croatia along that way.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Croatia is the best proof of how strong and successful the transformative power of our enlargement policy can be.
Today, we therefore also send a clear signal to Croatia's neighbours: A signal that our European offer is on the table; that hard work pays off; that the benefits of European integration are within reach if our partners stay the course.
Enlargement, provided that all the relevant conditions are met, will thus continue to serve as an anchor of stability, a driver of democracy and the rule of law, and as a catalyst for economic prosperity.
We should therefore not let the economic crisis overshadow this very important European policy. The current crisis is serious. But, we should not let it affect the Union's basic commitment towards the other countries of the region.
Their journey ahead is not easy: it requires serious reforms, transformations and political will on their part.
A credible enlargement policy remains our most effective tool to guide this process and to reinforce stability and prosperity in South Eastern Europe – and thus in Europe's fundamental interest.
Croatia's success is testimony to that. President, Prime Minister – congratulations! I look forward to welcoming Croatia as our 28th Member State.