Paris - The French parliament on Thursday unanimously ratified Croatia's accession treaty with the European Union, being the first country this year to open Croatia's entry to the Union and the 21st EU country to confirm the treaty.
Minister for European Affairs Bernard Caseneuve presented a report on Croatia, as did the chairs of the foreign and European affairs committees, who said Croatia had gone through the most rigorous negotiation process so far but that the rift with Slovenia could hamper the completion of the ratification process.
Croatian Parliament Speaker Josip Leko attended the ratification ceremony which welcomed Croatia to the EU.
Croatia is a deeply European country and a model for future accessions and has gone through the most rigorous negotiation process, with new criteria introduced in the wake of enlargement experiences with Rumania and Bulgaria, rapporteur for foreign affairs Phillip Cordery said. He added that the rift with Slovenia could threaten the process of ratification. Slovenia is the only country that has not started the ratification process and bilateral issues should be set apart from the process of accession, said Cordery and the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Elisabeth Gigou.
France is the 21st EU country to ratify Croatia's accession treaty, leaving Slovenia, Great Britain, Germany, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands yet to do so. All of these with the exception of Slovenia have started the process but some countries have made it clear that they would wait for the final European Commission (EC) comprehensive report scheduled for March to see if Croatia has completed the ten tasks set in the last EC report in October 2012. The accession process has further strengthened relations between Croatia and France and these will continue to improve once Croatia joins the EU, Casenevue said referring to good economic relations in a project to construct the Pleso airport in Zagreb involving two French companies, and other large construction projects. One MP noted that France had still not made its position clear regarding opening its labour market to Croatian citizens and urged the government to take the necessary steps in this regard. (Hina)