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 19 December 2006, in Bucharest, under the presidency of Romania, the Central European Free Trade Agreement was profoundly amended and its membership was expanded to create the FTACE in 2006 – a modern and ambitious free trade agreement with six new parties in south-eastern Europe. The Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) was concluded in 1992 between Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia under the conditions of the demise of the CAER system, with the aim of facilitating trade and intra-regional economic cooperation. At the same time, the agreement was seen from the outset as an instrument of preparation for the countries participating in EU membership. The agreement was amended by the agreements signed in Brno on 11 September 1995 and in Bled on 4 July 2003. 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.  As soon as a participating country joins the European Union (EU), its accession to the FTACE ends. Since 1 July 2013, the parties to the CEFTA agreement have been on behalf of Kosovo: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, Serbia and UNMIK. To date, under Article 51, three of the original signatories, Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania, have withdrawn from the EU accession agreement. ALECE 2006 replaces the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) concluded in 1992 and bilateral free trade agreements. The agreement proposes a single, predictable and long-term legal framework that will contribute to the development of bilateral and multilateral trade and economic relations between Member States. The 2006 CTATA provides for the abolition of all tariffs on imports and exports, quantitative restrictions and other taxes of equivalent effect in trade in industrial finished products and most agri-industrial products. The latter is a modern and comprehensive regional free trade agreement, designed to be an integral part of the pre-accession agenda of the contracting parties and, if necessary, to meet their WTO obligations.
It provides a solid legal basis for policy formulation and implementation in key trade and investment areas. 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).