Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA)
of contracting states
• Chair-in-office 2023
• Acting Director of the CEFTA Secretariat
• Previous Directors
|Emir Djikic Renata Vitez|
• Agreement signed
|21 December 1992|
• CEFTA 2006 Agreement signed
|19 December 2006|
|252,428 km2 (97,463 sq mi)|
• 2022 estimate
|85/km2 (220.1/sq mi)|
|GDP (PPP)||2023 estimate|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2023 estimate|
• Per capita
|Time zone||UTC+1, UTC+2|
• Summer (DST)
The Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) is an international trade agreement between countries mostly located in Southeastern Europe. Founded by representatives of Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, CEFTA in 2006 expanded to Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and the UNMIK (on behalf of Kosovo, in accordance with UNSCR 1244).
As of 1 July 2013, the parties of the CEFTA agreement are: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and UNMIK (on behalf of Kosovo).
Former parties are Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Their CEFTA memberships ended when they became member states of the European Union (EU).
|Parties of agreement||Joined||Left||Joined EU|
|Poland||21 December 1992||30 April 2004||1 May 2004|
|Slovenia||1 January 1996|
|Romania||1 January 1997||31 December 2006||1 January 2007|
|Bulgaria||1 January 1999|
|Croatia||1 January 2003||30 June 2013||1 July 2013|
|North Macedonia[b]||1 January 2006||—||—|
|Albania||1 January 2007|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina|
|UNMIK (on behalf of Kosovo)|
Former Poznań Declaration criteria:
Current criteria since Zagreb meeting in 2005:
|Albania||1 Jan. 2007||2,793,592||28,748||Tirana||54.338||19,009|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||3,227,405||51,209||Sarajevo||65.667||18,956|
|North Macedonia||1 Jan. 2006||1,836,713||25,713||Skopje||43.660||21,103|
|Serbia||1 Jan. 2007||6,690,887||77,474||Belgrade||175.318||25,718|
|UNMIK (on behalf of Kosovo)||1,773,971||10,887||Pristina||27.185||15,398|
The original CEFTA agreement was signed by the Visegrád Group countries, that is by Poland, Hungary and Czechia and Slovakia (at the time parts of the Czechoslovakia) on 21 December 1992 in Kraków, Poland. It came into force in July 1994. Through CEFTA, participating countries hoped to mobilize efforts to integrate into Western European institutions and through this, to join European political, economic, security and legal systems, thereby consolidating democracy and free-market economics.
The agreement was amended by the agreements signed on 11 September 1995 in Brno and on 4 July 2003 in Bled.
Slovenia joined CEFTA in 1996, Romania in 1997, Bulgaria in 1999, Croatia in 2003 and Macedonia in 2006.
All of the parties of the original agreement had now joined the EU and thus left CEFTA. Therefore, it was decided to extend CEFTA to cover the rest of the Western Balkans, which already had completed a matrix of bilateral free trade agreements in the framework of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe. On 6 April 2006, at the South East Europe Prime Ministers Summit in Bucharest, a joint declaration on expansion of CEFTA to Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Serbia, Montenegro and UNMIK (on behalf of Kosovo) was adopted. Accession of Ukraine has also been discussed. The new enlarged agreement was initialled on 9 November 2006 in Brussels and was signed on 19 December 2006 at the South East European Prime Ministers Summit in Bucharest. The agreement went into effect on 26 July 2007 for Albania, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro and Macedonia, on 22 August for Croatia, on 24 October for Serbia, and on 22 November 2007 for Bosnia and Herzegovina. The aim of the agreement was to establish a free trade zone in the region by 31 December 2010.
CEFTA 2006 aims at expanding regional trade in goods and services, creating an attractive environment for investment, and contributing to economic development and cooperation within the Parties. Laying down on the principles of WTO rules and procedures and harmonising its policies with the EU legislation, CEFTA provides an effective instrument for the Parties to accelerate their European integration agenda. Since the establishing, CEFTA has been deepening the areas of cooperation based on the needs of the businesses and strengthening trading relations between the Parties. From achieving the full liberalisation of trade in goods and further liberalisation in trade in services, via reducing trade related costs, harmonising the policies within the Parties based on the EU legislation, to expediting trade between Parties through electronic exchange of information, CEFTA has proven as a framework that ensures transparent trade relations between the Parties that can enable the businesses to improve their capacities for different markets.
All former participating countries had previously signed association agreements with the EU, so in fact CEFTA has served as a preparation for full European Union membership. Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia joined the EU on 1 May 2004, with Bulgaria and Romania following suit on 1 January 2007. Croatia joined the EU on 1 July 2013.
Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, and North Macedonia have been undergoing EU accession talks since 2012, 2014 and 2022.
At the EU's recommendation, the future members prepared for membership by establishing free trade areas. A large proportion of CEFTA foreign trade is with EU countries.
((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)