§ Mr. Spring
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the Government's policy on the accession of Croatia to the EU. 
§ Mr. MacShane
The Government support Croatia's EU aspirations. The Treaty of European Union establishes the procedure for processing a membership application. The relevant provisions state that any European state that respects the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law may submit a membership application to the Council. The Council then forwards980W the application to the Commission for an Opinion on the applicant's readiness to begin accession negotiations, measured against the criteria set out at the Copenhagen European Council in 1993. Croatia's application for EU membership should be treated in accordance with these provisions.
Croatia applied for membership on 21 February 2003. The Council forwarded the application to the Commission on 14 April 2003. Croatia's application will be assessed on its merits. Croatia's economic performance has been strong. However, there is still progress to be made in a number of areas, in particular co-operation with the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia, judicial reform, minority rights and refugee returns.