Speeches
Internal Policies and EU Institutions

Speech at signing ceremony of Croatia's Accession Treaty

Brussels -
Friday 09/12/2011

"Dear Presidents, Dear Prime Ministers, Excellencies, Dear Friends,

Just over a week ago the citizens of the European Union, represented by my colleagues in the European Parliament, gave Croatia a green light for accession.

We were proud to say a loud and decisive "yes" to the 28th Member State of the European Union. I believe that this is a good sign before the ratification procedure in Member States; as I am confident that our strong "yes" will be replied in kind by the Croatian people in their referendum.

The process of accession is often seen as a marathon - it has taken you ten years of hard work to get to where we are today. You have done an incredible job in adapting your laws, standards, and institutions to our common model. But every marathon ends with a final sprint. It is important for all of us to cross the finish line on 1 July 2013. I am sure we will.

After the Second World War our founding fathers found reconciliation in building a common European home. After the collapse of Communism my part of Europe found reconciliation through reunification. After the end of the Balkan wars, you may find reconciliation through jointly entering the EU.

Your country is a model, but we also need to send an encouraging signal to the rest of the region that the door of the EU remains open.

As I said during my recent visit to Croatia, you also have a duty to help your neighbours, as we were helped by ours.

Dear Colleagues,

I have some good news for you: accession is not the end of the race. It is the beginning of a new journey, but one that you are taking alongside friends. The EU is what we all make of it. I look forward to welcoming your observers to the European Parliament and hearing Croatian as the 24th official language in our plenary.

Hvala!"

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