Slovakia and the eu
History of Slovakia's EU membership
The process of building closer relations between the Slovak Republic and the European Union began in October 1993 when the Association Agreements were signed. In 1995, after the National Council of the Slovak Republic and parliaments of the EU member countries ratified the Association Agreement, the then Prime Minister, Vladimír Mečiar, submitted the application for EU membership. The following years were marked by concerns and objections from the European Commission. These mostly related to the instability of Slovak institutions and insufficient democracy.
However, the parliamentary elections held in 1998 marked a turning point. The EU welcomed the election results, and the first foreign visit of the new Prime Minister, Mikuláš Dzurinda, was to Brussels. During the negotiations with the European Commission, Slovakia was represented by the then State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ján Figeľ.
At the Helsinki summit in 1999, Slovakia was invited to accession negotiations, and European integration became a priority of the new Slovak government. The integration process was accompanied by a number of political and economic changes. Reforms focused on economic issues and on the stabilisation of democratic institutions. The Slovak Republic's negotiations on EU accession were concluded at the Copenhagen summit in 2002, which set the final date for Slovakia and nine other countries to join the EU.
In April 2003, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs approved the accession of ten countries, including Slovakia, to the European Union in 2004. Ten candidate countries formally signed the Treaty of Accession to the EU on 16 April 2003 in Athens. The Slovak Republic was represented by the President, Rudolf Schuster, and the Prime Minister, Mikuláš Dzurinda, who signed the Treaty. The Slovak Republic joined the European Union on 1 May 2004.
Slovakia's effort to become a member of the Schengen area was accomplished on 21 December 2007 when controls on the borders with Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary were abolished. In preparation for this step, Slovakia faced the considerable challenge of securing the border with Ukraine, which became the eastern border of the whole European Community following the entry of Slovakia and other countries to the Schengen area in 2007.
In 2009, the Slovak Republic adopted the euro and became the sixteenth Member State in the euro area. Before the adoption of the common currency, it was especially important to meet the so-called Maastricht criteria.
From 1 July 2016 to 31 December 2016 Slovakia will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first time in the country's history.