Monday

5th Dec 2016

Croatia gets reassurance on EU bid

EU enlargement, particularly to the Western Balkan countries, is set to feature high on the agenda of the bloc's two presidencies in 2009, with Croatia seen as likely to conclude its EU membership talks next year, said the Czech Republic and Sweden - the next two member states to hold the EU's six-month rotating chairmanship after France.

The Balkans seem to have been somehow "forgotten in the light of the current [Georgia] crisis," Czech deputy prime minister Alexandr Vondra, whose country will assume the EU's presidency in the first half of 2009, said at a press conference in Brussels on Tuesday (2 September).

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.

  • Croatia hopes to become the EU's 28th member by 2011 at the latest. (Photo: European Commission)

"We expect to move talks to the final stage with at least Croatia [during the Czech EU presidency]," he added.

EU-Croatia accession talks were launched in 2005. The country is hoping to finalise them next year and become the EU's 28th member by 2011 at the latest.

Following Ireland's rejection of the Lisbon treaty in June, some EU leaders - including French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel - have said that no further EU enlargement will take place until the document is ratified.

But Mr Vondra insisted there was "no reason to create a linkage" between Croatia's EU bid and "something else."

Swedish foreign minister Cecilla Malmstrom, whose country will take over the EU's rotating chair after the Czech Republic, also sent a positive signal to Zagreb.

"Depending on developments in Croatia and on the commission's opinion, it will indeed be possible to conclude the negotiations with Croatia during the Swedish EU presidency [starting 1 July 2009], which would be very good of course," she said.

During the presentation of their common programme, the current presidential trio - France, the Czech Republic and Sweden - also stressed their general support for the whole Balkan region and its "path towards EU integration."

"The whole region will be a priority during our consecutive presidencies," Ms Malmstrom pointed out.

Besides the Balkans, the EU will during these 18 months also focus on strengthening its relations with other neighbours, notably by "building the Eastern Partnership" - an idea put forward by Poland and Sweden earlier this year in order to strengthen the bloc's relations with its eastern neighbours.

Transatlantic relations in a post-US presidential elections context will also figure high on the agenda and hopes are that they will be "energised," the ministers said.

The three countries also put forward as common priorities the adoption of the EU's climate package and improving the bloc's energy security.

Migration and asylum issues, and work on ways to boost the EU's competitiveness will also be on the agenda.

Analysis

Serbia and the convenient spy

The manufactured cold war between Croatia and Serbia has been a convenient distraction from some of Serbia's domestic problems.

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. EU dismisses euro crisis risk after Italian referendum
  2. Italy result poses no risk to the EU, Sapin says
  3. EU asked to clarify links to Iran executions
  4. Italian economy minister tipped as caretaker PM
  5. EU tells US tech giants to act faster against hate speech
  6. Iceland's Pirates in bid to form government
  7. Danes are the happiest workers, study says
  8. Talks on wholesale roaming rules to start

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. CESICESI Congress Focuses on Future of Work, Public Services and Digitalisation
  2. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  3. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  4. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  5. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  6. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  7. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  8. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  9. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Transport and Mobility in Rome
  10. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhD Positions Open – The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU (PLATO)
  12. Access NowTell the EU Council: Protect our Rights to Privacy and Security