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European Union (Croatian Accession and Irish Protocol) Act 2013 2012-13

Royal Assent

(This Bill is from a previous session)

Summary

  • Bill status:

    Bill is now an Act

  • Type of Bill:

    Government Bill

Sponsors:

Last event

Summary

The Bill was announced in the Queen's speech of 9 May 2012, following the EU's approval of Croatia's accession on 9 December 2011. It will extend to the whole of the United Kingdom. It was introduced to the House of Commons on 18 October 2012, and is scheduled to pass into law by July 2013, when Croatia will accede to the EU.

The Bill aims to provide Parliamentary approval of Croatia's accession to the EU; Protocols to the Lisbon Treaty put forward by the Czech and Irish governments; and the maintainance of a single commissioner per EU member state.

It will allow for:

  • the approval of the Croatia Accession Treaty, allowing Croatia to accede to the European Union
  • the approval of Protocols to the Lisbon Treaty put forward by the Czech and Irish governments, following domestic opposition to the Treaty
  • the approval of the proposed decision to maintain the number of EU commissioners at one per member state
  • transitional immigration controls following Croatia' accession to the EU, with specific controls, based on the likely volume and impact of migration from Croatia, to be the subject of secondary legislation

Croatia applied to join the EU in 2003, became a candidate country in 2004 and began accession negotiations in 2005. These were concluded on 30 June 2011, and the European Commission delivered an opinion on Croatia's accession on 12 October 2011. The European Parliament gave its consent on 1 December 2011, and the European Council accepted the application on 5 December 2011. The Croatia Accession Treaty was signed by all member states on 9 December 2011.

Section 2 the European Union Act 2011 stipulates that a treaty which amends or replaces the Treaty on European Union or the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union must be approved by an Act of Parliament, but the secretary of state has said that the Croatia Accession Treaty does not fall within section 4 of the EU Act 2011, meaning a referendum is not required.

The Czech Republic and Ireland were among four EU member states that experienced issues ratifying the Lisbon Treaty, with Ireland initially rejecting the Treaty by referendum, and the Czech Republic's senate initially failing to approve the legislation. Both states eventually ratified the Treaty, but only on the basis that legal protocols on issues including security and defence and taxation be approved by the EU.

The Bill is likely to be supported by all the main parties, although it may provide an opportunity for euro-sceptic Conservative back benchers to air their views on the EU.