By the end of February Croatia intends to formally apply for EU membership.
Once the Greek Presidency receives Croatia's application, the General Affairs Council, in cooperation with the European Commission, would formulate an Opinion on whether to accept the bid and to open negotiations. Based on previous experience, this process is expected to last at least one year.
Croatia was recognised as a potential EU candidate under the Stabilisation and Association Agreement signed in October 2001. Recently, high-level Croatian politicians have said the Balkans state expects to qualify for full membership status by the end of 2006. Croatia now looks at the scheduled 21 June 2003 Summit in Thessaloniki as a potential venue for acceptance of an accelerated road map from the EU.