Sunday

25th Feb 2018

EU may impose monitoring system on candidate Croatia

  • Doubts exist over judicial reforms efforts in Zagreb (Photo: Valentina pop)

Divisions exist between EU member states over the timing of Croatia's accession to the bloc, with some capitals pushing for a new monitoring mechanism to ensure Zagreb follows through with pledged reforms.

EU foreign ministers discussed the issue in Brussels on Monday evening (23 May), with France leading a group of states who favour a system of additional checks between the end of accession negotiations and eventual EU membership, a period which can last between one to two years.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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.

"We are for the quick conclusion of negotiations, but also for an effective control that the commitments are respected," French Foreign Ministers Alain Juppe told reporters.

Croatia has currently concluded 30 of the 35 policy chapters that aspiring EU members must negotiate, but problems remain in the areas of judicial reform, the fight against corruption and the processing of war crimes relating to the 1990s war in the Balkans.

Anti-corruption NGO Transparency International issued a warning last week ahead of the foreign ministers' meeting, indicating its "concern that a clear political will to fight corruption in certain key areas is still lacking."

A group of EU states including France, the Netherlands and the UK are keen not to repeat past mistakes, with Romanian and Bulgarian reform efforts perceived as grinding to a halt after the two countries joined the EU in 2007.

Any monitoring system for Croatia is likely to involve a system of quarterly reports, with bad scores allowing EU governments, after a majority vote, to potentially postpone Croatia's membership for a year and slow the transfer of EU funds.

"It is a constructive way forward," a senior British official said, reports The Telegraph. "It is better to have a monitoring mechanism between the close of negotiations than after the ribbon is cut."

For its part, Croatia wants to finish EU accession negotiations this June, a date which coincides with the 20th anniversary of the country's independence.

Neighbouring state and current holders of the EU's rotating presidency, Hungary, have repeatedly supported this view, with Italy also indicating its approval on Monday.

"Croatia is ready," Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said on arriving at the meeting. "My opinion is that it is within reach, Croatia closing all the remaining chapters before the end of the Hungarian presidency [in June]," he said, adding that an accession treaty could then be signed as early as this autumn.

France appears to favour a slower approach however, with diplomats pointing to national politics as a factor behind this.

Centre-right French President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to face a strong challenge in presidential elections next year from the leader for the far-right anti-immigration National Front party, Marine Le Pen.

"France would prefer it to end in July, when everybody's at the beach, rather than the end of June because this way it wouldn't be noticed as much," an EU official told AFP.

EU divided over Western Balkan enlargement

After the European Commission presented its Western Balkans strategy last week, with a view of possibly integrating the region by 2025, some EU ministers were less enthusiastic after their first discussion of the new policy.

Rights watchdog to visit Turkey over rule of law

The Strasbourg-based human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, is heading to Ankara next week. The trip follows new plans by Ankara to meet EU demands for reforms in areas like anti-terror legislation.

News in Brief

  1. EU calls for immediate ceasefire in Syria
  2. UK's post-Brexit vision is 'pure illusion', Tusk says
  3. EU leaders express solidarity with Cyprus in Turkey drill row
  4. EU to double funding for Sahel forces
  5. EU parliament president: 'The immigration problem is Africa'
  6. May to unveil EU departure strategy next week
  7. Pregnant workers may be dismissed, EU court rules
  8. Romanian minister demands anti-corruption prosecutor fired

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeAnkara Ban on LGBTI Events Continues as Turkish Courts Reject NGO Appeals
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU agrees budget to focus on defence, security and migration
  2. EU leaders nix transnational lists, cool on 'Spitzenkandidat'
  3. Regions chief: calls for smaller EU budget are 'impossible'
  4. Election fever picks up This WEEK
  5. EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy
  6. EU leaders put 'Spitzenkandidat' on summit menu
  7. European far-right political party risks collapse
  8. The key budget issues on EU leaders' table