Tuesday

15th Jun 2021

Croatia on EU collision course over arrest warrant

  • Croatia faces possible EU sanctions less than two months after joining the bloc (Photo: JasonParis)

The European Commission is on collision course with Croatia after the EU's newest member state ignored demands to scrap laws exempting crimes committed during the Communist era and war crimes from the scope of the European Arrest Warrant.

Croatia became the 28th EU member state when it joined the bloc on 1 July.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Just three days prior to their accession date the Croatian parliament adopted changes exempting all crimes committed before 2002 from the scope of its implementation of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW).

The dispute is believed to have been sparked after the German government issued an EAW to extradite Josip Perkovic, a former director of the Yugoslav-era Croatian secret police, in connection with the assassination of a Croatian defector in Germany during the Communist-era. The amendments could also exempt crimes committed during the Yugoslav civil war in the early 1990s

In a letter dated 29 July to Croatian justice minister, Orsat Milijenic, Viviane Reding, the bloc's justice commissioner, set out the commission's position that the amendments were in clear breach of EU law.

The EAW, which has sparked controversy in a number of EU countries, requires member states to arrest and extradite criminal suspects identified by other EU countries.

Speaking on Monday (26 August), spokesperson Mina Andreeva told journalists that the commission had not received a reply to Reding's letter, adding that Croatia's stance amounted to a "breach of trust" on an issue which "goes at the heart of judicial co-operation in the EU."

Andreeva also rejected suggestions that the EAW should not be applied in full to Croatia, noting that Croatian officials had not raised the issue or the possibility of securing an opt-out from parts of the law during negotiations.

She added that the issue would be raised by the bloc's justice commissioner Viviane Reding at meetings of the EU commissioners and justice ministers next week with a view to further action, including the possible imposition of sanctions, in the coming weeks.

For her part, Reding has already raised the prospect of sanctions using Article 39 of Croatia's accession treaty in the event of "serious shortcomings" in its implementation of EU law.

Possible sanctions could include the withholding of EU funds, such as cohesion funds or money related to justice and judicial reform such as the training of judges.

The complexity of the EU's legal framework means that the commission has no power to launch formal infringement proceedings against Croatia before 2015.

Under the Lisbon treaty the EAW, which was agreed by EU governments in 2002 as a 'framework decision,' cannot be treated in the same way as conventional EU laws until the end of a transition period in December 2014.

Croatia becomes 28th EU member state

Croatia became the 28th member of the EU at midnight on Sunday, less than 20 years after gaining independence from Yugoslavia.

Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency

Some 14 MEPs have created a group to probe allegations of rights abuse by the EU's border agency Frontex. Its head, Fabrice Leggeri, welcomed its creation and said it "is about time".

News in Brief

  1. BBC and others boycott Belarus press circus
  2. Report: EU and US to unveil aircraft subsidy truce
  3. Putin refuses to guarantee Navalny will survive jail
  4. Erdoğan agrees to pull out mercenaries from Libya
  5. EU starts sale of first bonds for Covid-19 recovery fund
  6. Germans told not to 'storm pharmacies' for Covid pass
  7. Indonesia warns Covid-19 wave may not peak until July
  8. WTO chief: 'drop trade barriers on Covid-19 treatments'

Feature

Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. China officially joins Russia as a danger to Nato
  2. German Greens face reality check amid CDU gains
  3. EU Parliament wants Europe to take lead on sea-rescues
  4. MEPs urged to end gas-funding, fix cross-border projects rules
  5. Biden in Brussels - what's in the 'in-tray'?
  6. Yemen foreign minister to EU: to stop the war, talk to Iran
  7. Brexit grumbles overshadow UK summit
  8. Former French PM to work for Russian oil firm

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us