Friday

28th Apr 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.

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.

"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.

EU urges Turkey to investigate election fraud

The EU called for a transparent investigation into alleged irregularities during the referendum in Turkey, which gave sweeping powers to president Erdogan. It added that reinstating the death penalty would end the country's EU bid.

News in Brief

  1. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  2. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  3. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  4. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies
  5. Report: EU parliament says FN jobs cost €5mn
  6. Turkey suspends 9,000 police officers
  7. May hosts Juncker at Brexit dinner
  8. 700,000 people granted EU asylum

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  2. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act
  3. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  4. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  6. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  7. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  8. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  9. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  10. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  11. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?

Latest News

  1. EPP group frustrated with Orban
  2. Verdacht gegen Russland bezüglich Macronhacking
  3. 'Serene' EU warns UK against Brexit 'illusions'
  4. EU telecom watchdog plan dead on arrival
  5. Russische Fake-News überschwemmen die sozialen Medien Frankreichs
  6. EU agency stuck with London rent bill
  7. EU anti-fraud office ditches Martin Schulz probe
  8. Commission launches bid to make Europe social