Croatia, set to become the EU's 28th member state, will hold its first elections for the European Parliament on Sunday 14 April. The country with a population of 4.3 million people will elect 12 new MEPs who will take their seats after the formal accession on 1July. EP president Martin Schulz urged Croats to vote: " Parliament carries a lot of responsibility for the European Union and its member states. On election day, go to the ballot box and choose the best."
The elected MEPs will be in office until next year's European elections when their number will be reduced from 12 to 11. Currently, Croatia has 12 observers appointed by the Croatian parliament, reflecting the political composition in the national assembly.
Mr Schulz said: "It is happy news when a family grows, especially our family of values, committed to democracy, justice and the rule of law. Croatia's accession is a major step towards the full reunification of Europe. It will enrich the European Union and open new opportunities for Croatia." He called on Croats to choose parliamentarians who will combine hard work for Europe with making sure that the interests of Croatia are represented.
Croatia applied for EU membership in 2003 and negotiations ended in 2011.