EU hands accession treaty to Croatia
AFP, Saturday 17 Sep 2011
Croatia to sign EU draft accession treaty to become a EU member in 2013, following eight years of talks

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk brought a EU draft accession treaty on Saturday to his Croatian counterpart to be signed in December and open the door for Zagreb to become the bloc's 28th member in 2013.

"Nowadays when many politicians doubt in the European Union's future, Croatia's accession is a big injection of optimism which brings a confidence into the EU future," Tusk, whose country holds the EU rotating presidency, said at a press conference.

His counterpart and host Jadranka Kosor said that Croatia had "realised its strategic goal" in that it was an "historic day of joy and happiness for all of us."

"Croatia has made a huge step towards the EU ... The conclusion of the accession talks proves that the reforms have been implemented and bring results," Kosor said.

The accession treaty is expected to be signed in December although the European Commission must first issue an opinion, followed by an endorsement from the European Parliament and a final decision by EU governments.

Croatia concluded EU accession talks, launched in 2005, on 3- June, and will become the the bloc's 28th member in July 2013.

After Slovenia, Croatia will become the second former Yugoslav state to join the EU.