At a CEPS lunchtime meeting on June 7th, Andrej Plenkovic, Secretary of State for European Integration of Croatia, explained that the progress of his country on the road to EU accession has been slower than expected, due in part to the New Negotiating Framework adopted by the EU in 2004. Although the latter made the process more 'controllable' for member states, it complicated matters for applicants. Nevertheless, Croatia and the EU have now provisionally closed 18 negotiating chapters out of 33. The biggest obstacle to negotiations has also been removed, with the long-running dispute with Slovenia over territorial waters now settled the criterion of good neighbourly relations is finally met, and this will allow the opening of the negotiation chapter on Foreign, Security and Defence policy, meaning that Croatia could join the EU as early as 2011. Plenkovic noted that in light of the strategic importance of this decision, the government intends to hold a referendum on the accession treaty before it is ratified. Although a simple majority would suffice, it will work towards an overwhelmingly positive endorsement of accession. The event was moderated by Marco Incerti, CEPS Head of Communications.
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