Saturday

27th Aug 2016

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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".

Opinion

EU's Kosovo meddling risks Balkans chaos

The EU and the US are is unfairly pressuring Kosovo to ratify a border deal with Montenegro against the will of the opposition. It could bring trouble to the Western Balkans region.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary plans to reinforce border fence against migrants
  2. France's highest court suspends burkini ban
  3. Greeks paid €1bn more in taxes in June
  4. Greek minister denounces EU letter on former statistics chief
  5. Turks seeking asylum in Greece may cause diplomatic row
  6. Merkel becomes digital resident of Estonia
  7. Report: VW will compensate US dealers with €1bln
  8. EU mulls making Google pay news media for content

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. GoogleBrussels - home of beer, fries, chocolate and Google’s Public Policy Team - follow @GoogleBrussels
  2. HuaweiSeeds for the Future Programme to Bring Students from 50 countries to China for Much-Needed ICT Training
  3. EFASpain is not a democratic state. EFA expresses its solidarity to Arnaldo Otegi and EH Bildu
  4. UNICEFBoko Haram Violence in Lake Chad Region Leaves Children Displaced and Trapped
  5. HuaweiMaking Cities Smarter and Safer
  6. GoogleHow Google Makes Connections More Secure For Users
  7. EGBAThe EU Court of Justice Confirms the Application of Proportionality in Assessing Gambling Laws
  8. World VisionThe EU and Member States Must Not Use Overseas Aid for Promoting EU Interests
  9. Dialogue PlatformInterview: "There is a witch hunt against the Gulen Movement in Turkey"
  10. ACCAACCA Calls for ‘Future Looking’ Integrated Reporting Culture With IIRC and IAAER
  11. EURidNominate Your Favourite .eu or .ею Website for the .EU Web Awards 2016 Today!
  12. Dialogue PlatformAn Interview on Gulen Movement & Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey