Monday

4th Jul 2022

No control mechanism for Croatia after EU entry

  • Croatia will have no special controls after it joins the EU. (Photo: EUobserver)

As the marathon accession talks with Croatia draw closer to the finishing line, the European Union has clearly stated that it will not install a safety net similar to that which accompanied the entry of Romania and Bulgaria.

EU officials have confirmed that there is no plan to set up a 'co-operation and verification mechanism' (CVM) for Croatia.

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There are many reasons for this. Some argue that the CVM is not working properly in the cases of Romania and, particularly, Bulgaria, while still being an embarrassment for both countries. Others hold that Croatia will be ready to join the EU without any need for additional requirements imposed by the European Commission.

In the past, some EU diplomats were ready to accept a Romanian-and-Bulgarian-style mechanism for Croatia in the hope that it would speed up the negotiations, but the current view that substance and quality are more important than speed has prevailed.

The reluctance to rush is mostly due to concerns about the country's ability to fight corruption and organised crime, an issue covered in accession talks under Chapter 23, 'Judiciary and fundamental rights'. Many countries were not satisfied with the measures Bulgaria and Romania took in this field once they had become EU members.

The EU is not willing to repeat what many saw as mistakes. There will be no safeguard measures for Croatia since the country will only join when it is "100 percent ready", the European Commission's annual enlargement strategy published in Brussels last week emphasised.

"The commission considers that negotiations should be concluded once Croatia has met outstanding closing benchmarks, in particular in the field of judiciary and fundamental rights, including the fight against corruption, thus removing the need for the EU to consider a co-operation and verification mechanism after accession," the commission concluded in the paper.

The Brussels executive will closely monitor Croatia's progress on judiciary and fundamental rights and take stock of the situation in the first quarter of 2011. According to EU diplomats who spoke to WAZ.EUobserver, if the commission reports in March that the country has met all conditions for the closure of Chapter 23, negotiations could be concluded within months and the accession treaty could be signed in the second half of 2011.

The lengths of the talks – Croatia and the EU have been negotiating for more than five years now – is also a result of previous experience with Bulgaria and Romania. Both newcomers were admitted without being fully ready, many EU officials and diplomats privately confirm.

With enlargement scepticism growing across the bloc, the EU also wants to signal to its citizens that only those candidates that demonstrate full readiness will become members in the future.

"That's the reason why we want Croatia to be a good example after the less good examples of Bulgaria and Romania," a senior EU official told this website. "This will also be important also for the future of enlargement with other countries from the western Balkans."

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