Tuesday

22nd Aug 2017

Slovenia puts €172mn price tag on Croatia's EU entry

  • EU leaders celebrate the signature of Croatia's accession treaty in Brussels last year (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

EU leaders in December signed Croatia's accession treaty, trumpeting the move as a sign the EU's enlargement programme is alive and well despite the euro crisis.

But now Slovenia is threatening to block it over a €172 million bank dispute.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"Only after [the dispute] is solved in accordance with international law, will we be able to start the ratification procedure for Croatia's accession to the European Union," Jozef Horvat, an MP in the ruling centre-right SDS party and the head of the parliament's foreign affairs committee told press in Ljubljana on Thursday (20 September).

Commenting on bilateral talks on the issue, Slovenia's foreign minister, Karel Erjavec, noted that "[Slovenia's negotiator] has a mandate until the end of the year, if a solution is not reached by then, that means no bilateral solution can be found."

The dispute concerns the now defunct Ljubljanska Banka and the break-up of former Yugoslavia.

When Ljubljanska Banka went bankrupt in the 1990s, the €172 million, which belonged to some 130,000 Croatian savers, was folded into Slovenia's national debt.

Two Croatian banks have filed lawsuits against Ljubljanska Banka's reincarnation, the Nova Ljubljanska Banka, to get the money back.

But Slovenia says the case should be settled as part of a wider Yugoslav-break-up deal being brokered by the Bank of International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland.

To add insult to injury, Slovenia in June gave Nova Ljubljanska Banka €382 million to keep it afloat.

Meanwhile, Horvat's statement will come as no surprise to Brussels.

The Slovenian foreign minister already annoyed EU colleagues at a meeting in the EU capital in July when he told press: "I personally wish Croatia would join the EU as soon as possible and that we ratify the accord ... But the precondition for that is that we solve the question of LB [Ljubljanska Banka]."

He repeated his position at an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Cyprus in September.

An EU source told EUobserver: "Nobody in the EU likes it when EU matters are linked with bilateral problems ... If everybody did it, it would overshadow enlargement as a whole. Everyone could take something out of the bag against their neighbours and it would pollute the atmosphere."

The contact noted that €172 million might not sound like much, but given Slovenia's wobbly financial situation "every euro counts."

The source added that "it is not the first time that Slovenia has done this [blocked an EU initiative for its own reasons]."

In 2008, Slovenia threatened to stop Croatia accession talks over a maritime border dispute.

Earlier this year, it vetoed EU sanctions on Belarus in order to protect a Slovenian firm's hotel contract in Minsk.

Croatia is supposed to join the EU on 1 July 2013 if everybody ratifies its accession treaty on time. Fourteen EU countries and Croatia itself have done it so far.

Correction: the story originally said 12 EU countries had ratified the accession treaty

Slovenia still blocking Croatia's progress towards EU

Relations between Croatia and its EU neighbour Slovenia have been almost idyllic since last year's agreement on a mechanism to resolve a maritime border dispute. But not all problems between the two countries are over yet, and they are still affecting Croatia's EU accession talks.

Slovenia: EU bail-out ratification in danger

Slovenian MPs can still vote on the second Greek bail-out and beefed-up euro rescue fund despite the fall of the government, but getting them to vote Yes "could be a problem."

Slovenian government collapses

Slovenian leader Jansa has been ousted from office in a no-confidence vote on Wednesday amid economic gloom compounded by corruption allegations.

Opinion

Overcoming the plot against Turkish democracy

One year after an attempted coup, what Turkey needs is not biased and groundless criticism but more cooperation, dialogue and understanding, writes its Europe minister Omer Celik.

News in Brief

  1. Austria has begun checks at Italian border
  2. Slovenian PM: Brexit talks will take longer than expected
  3. Merkel backs diesel while report warns of economic harm
  4. UK to publish new Brexit papers this week
  5. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  6. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  7. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  8. European Union returns to 2 percent growth

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference