21st Jul 2019

EU says Croatia set to close membership talks in 2009

  • Fishing in Croatian waters by EU countries will not be limited (Photo: EUobserver)

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso on Thursday signalled that Croatia should be able to conclude EU membership talks next year in a move seen as rewarding the country for its suspension of a protected ecological and fisheries zone.

"I have every confidence that Croatia will be able to meet the conditions...It should be possible to conclude the technical negotiations next year, preferably by the end of the mandate of the Commission (in November 2009)," said Mr Barroso after a meeting in Brussels with Croatian prime minister Ivo Sanadar.

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

Brussels' endorsement came after Croatia's parliament early on Thursday morning voted in favour of giving EU members the right to fish in a sensitive zone in the Adriatic Sea in a bid to speed up the country's EU integration.

Reacting, Mr Sanadar said: "I am very confident that Croatia will be the 28th member of the European Union."

"We are ready to do this work, to master the job in 2008, in order to be able to conclude the negotiation process by autumn next year."

Previously, Croatia had proclaimed the area a protected fishing and ecological zone – a so-called ZERP – covering an area of about 30,000 square kilometres in the Adriatic Sea, saying it aimed to limit fishing there in order to protect marine life.

It was also to apply to EU members, angering in particular neighbours Slovenia and Italy, who strongly opposed the move. Meanwhile, the EU had indicated that implementing the zone would be "a major obstacle to Croatia's accession to the EU".

Consequently, Croatian lawmakers on Thursday (13 March) decided to approve a proposal of Mr Sanader, who earlier this week suggested the zone be scrapped, saying that priority should be given to the completion of EU accession talks by mid-2009.

The decision was passed by a small majority however, as 77 of the parliamentarians voted in favour of the move, with nine against, while the rest of the lawmakers in the 151-seat body preferred to abstain.

The deputies had debated the issue for some nine hours before a vote at one o'clock in the morning, the Associated Press reports.

"Both issues are important for Croatia; they both are of national interest," Mr Sanader told parliamentarians. But EU accession is an "absolute national interest", he said.

Croatia opened accession talks in 2005 and is hoping to become full EU member by 2011.

It has so far opened 16 out of its 35-chapter EU negotiations package, while two have been provisionally closed.

In January, Austrian Socialist MEP Hannes Swoboda, who is in charge of the Croatian dossier in the European Parliament, had called on the country to speed up its reforms in order to complete negotiations by 2009 or face delay in EU membership.

He had also warned that if the ZERP issue was not solved, Slovenia, which currently holds the EU presidency, would not open the fisheries chapter of Croatia's negotiations package.

EU split on Western Balkans accession

Europe's credibility is at risk in the Western Balkans, half its member states have warned - but EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said Albania and North Macedonia unlikely to start accession talks soon.

Tensions mount over Kosovo-Serbia deal

Serbia will never recognise Kosovo, Serbia's foreign minister has said, as the Western Balkans heads into a new period of turbulence.


EU report recognises Albania's achievements

Albania currently faces a serious crisis, which it would be foolish for all actors in the international community to ignore. Yet we must ask that our partners in Europe read Federica Mogherini's report carefully and recognise accomplishments.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Abortion Wars
  2. EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK
  3. Survey: Half of EU staff 'don't know' ethics rules
  4. Von der Leyen signals soft touch on migrants, rule of law
  5. Timmermans: von der Leyen will be tough on rule of law
  6. Timmermans trolls 'idiot' Brexit negotiators
  7. Rudderless Europe: Will real Germany please stand up?
  8. PiS & Fidesz claim credit for von der Leyen victory

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us