The initial agreement of the ALECE was signed on 21 December 1992 in Krakow (Poland) by Poland, Hungary and the Czech and Slovak Republic (then parts of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic). It came into force in July 1994. Under the CTATA, the participating countries hoped to mobilise integration efforts in the institutions of Western Europe and thus adhere to European political, economic, security and legal systems, thereby consolidating democracy and the market economy. In addition, the agreements contain competition provisions, a high level of protection of intellectual property rights and increased cooperation in customs matters. They also include additional disciplines, including public procurement, harmonization of legislation in many areas, including standardization, and services and branch provisions. All the former participating countries had already signed association agreements with the EU, so the FTACE effectively served as a preparation for full membership of the European Union. Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia joined the EU on 1 May 2004, followed by Bulgaria and Romania on 1 January 2007. Croatia joined the EU on 1 July 2013. On the recommendation of the EU, future members have prepared for accession by creating free trade zones. Much of THE CTATA`s foreign trade is being bugged with EU countries.
The European Union negotiates free trade agreements on behalf of all its member states, as EU member states have granted “exclusive jurisdiction” to conclude trade agreements. Nevertheless, the governments of the Member States control every step of the process (through the Council of the European Union, whose members are the national ministers of each national government). Following Kosovo`s declaration of independence on 17 February 2008, UNMIK continued to represent Kosovo at all CEFTA meetings. At the end of 2008, Kosovo changed its customs stamps by replacing UNMIK with Kosovo. This has led to a trade blockade of Serbia and Bosnia, which the Republic of Kosovo does not recognize.  The government of Pristina returned the favour with its own blockade of imports from Serbia. This led to clashes at border crossings in July 2011.  In 2000, the EU granted autonomous trade preferences to all Western Balkan countries.