Tuesday

22nd May 2018

Croatia to face EU fine after 'abusing' trust

  • Reding: 'That there will be sanctions that will be imposed is rather clear' (Photo: eu2013.lt)

The European Commission has triggered punitive action against Croatia and accused it of breach of trust at the highest levels of government.

The dispute relates to Zagreb's decision, three days before it joined the EU on 1 July, to exempt crimes committed before 2002 from its application of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW).

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.

It made the move after Germany issued an EAW for Croatia to extradite Josip Perkovic, a Communist-era security chief, accused of involvement in a political murder in Germany.

EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding told press in Brussels on Tuesday (17 September): "Yes. Action is under way."

She added that the procedure was launched last Friday and could result in withholding EU funds.

She noted that member states have to be consulted before a final decision, but she said: "That there will be sanctions that will be imposed is rather clear."

Article 39 of Croatia's EU accession treaty has a "safeguard clause" which gives the commission the power to "adopt appropriate measures" if "there are serious shortcomings" in Croatia's compliance with EU law.

Croatia has indicated it might fall into line on the EAW in July next year.

But Reding said this is not good enough.

"A law which can be changed in a few days before you sign the accession treaty can also be changed back in a few days … [Croatia's] parliament is sitting, so there should be no difficulty," she noted.

She also accused the Croatian government of breach of trust.

She said she put her signature on chapter 23 of its accession treaty, dealing with law and order, after "intensive" discussions with Croatia's minister of justice and its Prime Minister.

She added that EU officials have tried "all means" to make Zagreb change its mind since July.

"Croatia started, after having got a lot of trust, to abuse this trust the day it entered the EU," she said.

She dismissed as "nonsense" accusations by some Croatian politicians that she is taking a hard line on its centre-left government because she is part of a centre-right political group.

"Lady justice is blind," she said.

For his part, Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic told press that he will not change the EAW law before next year despite Reding's threat.

"I will not allow anyone to wipe the floor with us," he said in Zagreb after Reding's remarks, the AP news agency reports.

He added that Croatia will "not lose a cent" of EU money no what matter Reding says.

This story was updated at 10am Brussels time on 18 September, adding Milanovic's remarks

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.

EU threats force Croatia to change law

The EU commission says it will not lift its threat to fine Croatia despite Zagreb's assurance to quickly amend its European Arrest Warrant law.

Opinion

Linking EU funds to 'rule of law' is innovative - but vague

Defining what constitutes 'rule of law' violations may be more difficult than the EU Commission proposes, as it tries to link cohesion funds in east Europe to judicial independence. A key question will be who is to 'judge' those judges?

News in Brief

  1. Trump warns Nato allies' low budgets will be 'dealt with'
  2. Only Estonia, Greece and UK hit Nato spending target
  3. EU to start process to counter US Iran sanctions
  4. Macedonia PM sees 'possible solutions' in Greek name row
  5. EU takes six countries to court over air pollution
  6. New Catalan leader sworn in without reference to Spain
  7. Merkel and Putin revive dialogue in troubled times
  8. European companies putting Iran business on hold

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Latest News

  1. Athens mayor wants direct access to EU migration fund
  2. Nordics could be first carbon-negative region in world
  3. Zuckerberg and Trump top the EU's agenda This WEEK
  4. Integration of Syrian refugees in Europe needs scrutiny
  5. Bulgarian PM: No asylum reform without stronger border
  6. Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline
  7. Italian populists to defy EU debt rules
  8. Commission 'playing tricks' with EU budget figures