Sunday

21st Oct 2018

EU finalises Croatia membership treaty

  • Croatia will be the EU's 28th member (Photo: Damien Smith)

Member states on Wednesday (14 September) finalised the text of the EU accession treaty with Croatia, set to become the bloc's 28th member in 2013. There are no safeguard clauses attached to the treaty as was the case with the last new members, but the European Commission will "monitor" Zagreb, pending ratification of the agreement in the 27 national parliaments.

Eight years after Croatia's initial bid to join the European Union, member states have agreed on the wording of the 350-page treaty spelling out the legal obligations and rights stemming from membership.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

According to the text, which is still to be made public after being translated into all 23 EU languages and Croatian, the Balkan country will become EU's 28 member on 1 July 2013, provided ratification is completed in all member states by then.

The Polish EU presidency meanwhile is pressing to have the signing ceremony in Warsaw instead of Brussels, so as to mark the tradition of eastward expansion of the bloc. But a final decision in this regard has not been taken yet.

Unlike Bulgaria and Romania, which joined the bloc in 2007 but were kept under a 'safeguard clause' which could have delayed membership by one year, EU states "have full confidence in the Croatian authorities" to tackle corruption, organised crime and to uphold human rights, a Polish EU presidency source said.

However, EU membership does not mean that Croatia will automatically become part of the border-free Schengen area comprising 25 countries, including non-EU members Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. "The Schengen [laws] are different and it will also change meanwhile, so Croatia's membership in that area will be discussed at a later stage," the official said, under request of anonymity.

The EU commission will continue to "monitor closely" reforms in Zagreb next year, as national parliaments in the 27 member states will have to ratify the treaty and may have extra questions before giving their green light, the source added.

But another EU official dealing with enlargement sees this "rush" to finalise Croatia's membership dossier as running counter to everything the bloc had been preaching so far in terms of clean government and rule of law, especially since it created an unprecedented monitoring system for Romania and Bulgaria after they joined.

With general elections scheduled for 4 December, just days before the official signing of the accession treaty, Croatian politics is already heating up, with Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor on Tuesday in face-saving mode after her party's accountant was arrested for corruption.

"This [the arrest] is an orchestrated campaign to minimise the [ruling party] HDZ's chances in the upcoming election," she said in a press conference. "They want to create the impression that we're all the same, that we're all dirty, that there are factions fighting amongst themselves in the HDZ".

It is precisely political corruption and 'going after the big fish' that the EU had requested from Zagreb before closing the negotiations.

Kosor took over the government from Ivo Sanader in 2009, after he abruptly resigned. He was later arrested in Austria and extradited to Croatia to face charges of embezzlement of millions of euros through state-run companies.

The crookedness of state-owned companies was also highlighted in one of the US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks.

According to Zagreb airport director Tonci Peovic, who spoke to US diplomats in February 2010, state-run Croatia Airlines "is in major need of restructuring, but the minister of transport is in a politically weak position. The case illustrates the dysfunctional role of the state in key economic sectors".

US diplomats noted that the weakness of the ministry is also due to "numerous scandals and mismanagement allegations, including allegations of corruption in roads contracting and several rail accidents".

Croatia gets EU green light, despite lack of reforms

The European Commission has given the go-ahead for Croatia to become the 28th member of the European Union, a landmark decision that critics say has more to do with politics than real reforms inside the Balkan state.

Centre-left wins in Croatia, scores well in Slovenia

Elections on Sunday brought in a left-leaning coalition in Croatia, as predicted, but caused a surprise in neighbouring Slovenia, where a new centre-left party led by a businessman mayor surpassed all expectations.

News in Brief

  1. Germany leads EU criticism of Saudi Arabia
  2. Huge pro-EU march takes place in London
  3. Macedonia MPs back name deal in initial vote
  4. EU to open trade talks with US on beef
  5. EU court orders Poland to suspend firing judges
  6. Japan to focus on circular economy at G20
  7. Italian budget 'significant deviation' from rules, says EU
  8. Podemos initiates debate on legalising marijuana in Spain

Opinion

EU should brace for a more authoritarian Erdogan

The new blend of religious nationalism will be more anti-West and anti-EU, as Brussels has anything but leverage on Turkey. The first signs of this strong rhetoric are already visible.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. What Italy's budget row is actually about
  2. EU preparing 'concentration camps' for migrants in Africa
  3. Poland to respect EU injunction on judicial purge
  4. EU votes on Facebook and plastic This WEEK
  5. Top EU banks guilty of multi-billion tax fraud
  6. Polish left a glimmer of hope in fight against illiberal democracy
  7. Europe and Asia seek stable relations in troubled times
  8. Asylum reforms derailed, as EU looks to north Africa

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us