Slovenia's integration into the European Union
Membership in the EU has been Slovenia's strategic goal since its independence. Slovenia actively pursued its European orientation by developing and building institutional relations with the EU.
Slovenia's aspiration to join the EU stemmed from its close political, economic and cultural cooperation with the EU and its cultural and civilisational position in Europe. Among the important reasons for Slovenia's strategic goal to join the EU were also security reasons. Slovenia believed that it could address national security and defence issues more effectively within the EU and NATO.
Cooperation Agreement and Association Agreement
The legal and institutional framework for relations between Slovenia and the EU was established by a Cooperation Agreement. Negotiations for the conclusion of the agreement began in July 1992. The Cooperation Agreement between the Republic of Slovenia and the Former European Economic Community was signed on 5 April 1993 and entered into force on 1 September 1993.
Slovenia formally requested the opening of negotiations on the Cooperation Agreement on 10 June 1996. On 11 November 1996, Slovenia and the EU signed an interim trade agreement, which entered into force on 1 January 1997. With it, the part of the agreement relating to trade, which defined the free trade area between Slovenia and the Member States, entered into force.
On 16 July 1997, the European Commission presented an opinion on candidate countries to join the EU (Agenda 2000). As the opinion on Slovenia was favourable, in December 1997 Slovenia was included in the first round of countries for the start of negotiations, which officially began on 31 March 1998 and ended at the end of 2002 with an agreement on Slovenia's accession conditions.
Slovenia becomes a full member of the European Union
Prior to accession, Slovenia adapted its legislation to EU regulations, except in areas where certain exceptions and transitional periods were agreed in the negotiations. On 23 March 2003, the majority of Slovenian citizens voted in favour of Slovenia joining the EU in a referendum on Slovenia’s accession to the EU and, on 1 May 2004, Slovenia became a full member of the EU after completing the accession process.