Accession of Croatia to the European Union: Wikis


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Croatian EU accession bid
EU Accession Croatia.png
European Union Croatia Locator.svg
EU Croatia
PPP GDP ($bl.) 15,247,000 87,272
Area (km²) 4,324,782 56,542
Population 501,259,840 4,453,500
Opened chapters: 30
Closed chapters: 17

Croatia applied for European Union membership in 2003, and the European Commission recommended making it an official candidate in early 2004. Candidate country status was granted to Croatia by the European Council in mid-2004. The entry negotiations, while originally set for March 2005, began in October that year together with the screening process.

The accession process of Croatia was derailed several times due to the Irish rejection of the Treaty of Lisbon in a referendum, and then later by the insistence of Slovenia that the two countries' border issues are dealt with prior to Croatia's accession into the EU.

Despite the logistical problems, the accession of Croatia is strongly supported by current EU member states.


Issues of dispute


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ICTY cooperation

The flag of Croatia and the European flag, on the building of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European integration, in Zagreb

Croatia has had to extradite several of its citizens to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), an issue that was often contentious in domestic politics.

Croatia's relations with the court had continuously been cited by the EU officials as something that required further improvement. Ratification of the EU Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Croatia had been stalled because of this.

The European Council, after its summit of December 20, 2004, set the following March 17 as the date to start entry negotiations, provided that Croatia continued to cooperate fully with the ICTY. On March 16, 2005 – the day before talks were to begin – the EU postponed the commencement of negotiations, because the ICTY prosecution assessed the Croatian efforts to capture the fugitive general Ante Gotovina (indicted by the ICTY for war crimes and crimes against humanity, but at large since 2001) as neither timely nor sufficient.

On December 7, 2005 Spanish Police finally arrested Ante Gotovina with the help of the Spanish and Croatian government on the Spanish island of Tenerife, located in the Canary Islands. He was brought to The Hague to be tried for war crimes. With the arrest of Ante Gotovina this issue seems to be now resolved, and entry negotiations have begun anew, after the certification of ICTY chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte that Croatia now fully cooperates with the ICTY.

Border disagreements

Croatia must also contend with long-standing border issues with Slovenia. Good trade relations have precluded this up to December 2008 when Slovenia's blockade of Croatia's EU accession stalled the negotiating process for 10 months. In September 2009 it was announced that Slovenia would remove restraints on Croatia's negotiations with the EU without prejudice to the international mediation on the border dispute.[1] In addition, Croatia has border disputes with Serbia, and Bosnia and Montenegro. In December 2008 Croatia and Montenegro agreed that the outstanding sea border issue between the two countries should be settled before an international court whose decision would be accepted in advance by the parliaments of the two countries.[2]

Land ownership

Free acquisition of real estate by foreigners is a sensitive issue in Croatia. This matter particularly concerns Italians, especially in Istria. While it has strong cultural and historic ties with Italy, the events surrounding World War II, when Istria changed hands between the Kingdom of Italy and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, are more pertinent to the current issues. Numerous Italian politicians have expressed their discontent concerning the current inability of Italians to purchase land in Croatia, considering it discriminatory treatment, and stating that this issue should be resolved as soon as possible.

Croatia denies discrimination, indicating that Croatian legislation provides for the same treatment of all EU citizens concerning this issue. In mid-2006 Croatia and Italy agreed, and now Italian citizens may purchase land in Croatia, and Croatian citizens may purchase land in Italy. The same kind of measures, concerning this issue, have been employed by many new EU member countries before their own accession to the EU. Examples of this include Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland, and especially Malta.

Negotiation progress

Acquis chapter EC Assessment At Start Screening Started Screening Completed Chapter Opened Chapter Closed
1. Free Movement of Goods Further efforts needed 16.1.2006 24.2.2006 25.7.2008 -
2. Freedom of Movement For Workers No major difficulties expected 19.7.2006 11.9.2006 17.6.2008 2.10.2009
3. Right of Establishment & Freedom To Provide Services No major difficulties expected 21.11.2005 20.12.2005 26.6.2007 21.12.2009
4. Free Movement of Capital Further efforts needed 25.11.2005 22.12.2005 2.10.2009 -
5. Public Procurement Further efforts needed 7.11.2005 28.11.2005 19.12.2008 -
6. Company Law No major difficulties expected 21.6.2006 20.7.2006 26.6.2007 2.10.2009
7. Intellectual Property Law No major difficulties expected 6.2.2006 3.3.2006 29.3.2007 19.12.2008
8. Competition Policy Considerable efforts needed 8.11.2005 2.12.2005 - -
9. Financial Services No major difficulties expected 29.3.2006 3.5.2006 26.6.2007 27.11.2009
10. Information Society & Media No major difficulties expected 12.6.2006 14.7.2006 26.7.2007 19.12.2008
11. Agriculture & Rural Development Considerable efforts needed 5.12.2005 26.1.2006 2.10.2009 -
12. Food Safety, Veterinary & Phytosanitary Policy Further efforts needed 9.3.2006 28.4.2006 2.10.2009 -
13. Fisheries Further efforts needed 24.2.2006 31.3.2006 19.2.2010 -
14. Transport Policy No major difficulties expected 26.6.2006 28.9.2006 21.4.2008 -
15. Energy No major difficulties expected 15.5.2006 16.6.2006 21.4.2008 27.11.2009
16. Taxation No major difficulties expected 6.6.2006 12.7.2006 2.10.2009 -
17. Economic & Monetary Policy No major difficulties expected 16.2.2006 23.3.2006 21.12.2006 19.12.2008
18. Statistics No major difficulties expected 19.6.2006 18.7.2006 26.6.2007 2.10.2009
19. Social Policy & Employment No major difficulties expected 8.2.2006 22.3.2006 17.6.2008 21.12.2009
20. Enterprise & Industrial Policy No major difficulties expected 27.3.2006 5.5.2006 21.12.2006 25.7.2008
21. Trans-European Networks No major difficulties expected 30.6.2006 29.9.2006 19.12.2007 2.10.2009
22. Regional Policy & Coordination of Structural Instruments Considerable efforts needed 11.9.2006 10.10.2006 2.10.2009 -
23. Judiciary & Fundamental Rights Considerable efforts needed 6.9.2006 13.10.2006 - -
24. Justice, Freedom & Security Considerable efforts needed 23.1.2006 15.2.2006 2.10.2009 -
25. Science & Research No major difficulties expected 20.10.2005 14.11.2005 12.6.2006 12.6.2006
26. Education & Culture No major difficulties expected 26.10.2005 16.11.2005 11.12.2006 11.12.2006
27. Environment Further efforts needed 3.4.2006 2.6.2006 19.2.2010 -
28. Consumer & Health Protection No major difficulties expected 8.6.2006 11.7.2006 12.10.2007 27.11.2009
29. Customs Union No major difficulties expected 31.1.2006 14.3.2006 21.12.2006 2.10.2009
30. External Relations No major difficulties expected 10.7.2006 13.9.2006 12.10.2007 30.10.2008
31. Foreign, Security & Defence Policy No major difficulties expected 14.9.2006 6.10.2006 - -
32. Financial Control Further efforts needed 18.5.2006 30.6.2006 26.6.2007 -
33. Financial & Budgetary Provisions No major difficulties expected 6.9.2006 4.10.2006 19.12.2007 -
34. Institutions Nothing to adopt - - - -
35. Other Issues Nothing to adopt - - - -
Progress 30 out of 33[3] 17 out of 33[3]


Date Event
15 January 1998 The United Nations Transitional Authority for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium returns control over eastern Croatia, restoring the country's full sovereignty for the first time since the Croatian War of Independence.
4 March 1998 Ministry of European Integration formed within the Croatian Government.[4]
29 October 2001 Croatia signs the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.
21 February 2003 Formal application for membership submitted.
9 October 2003 Croatia submits answers to the Commission's Questionnaire.
20 April 2004 European Commission replies to the answers with a positive opinion (Avis).
18 June 2004 Croatia receives official candidate status.
20 December 2004 European Council sets the date for the entry negotiations to begin 17 March 2005.
1 February 2005 SAA comes into force.
16 March 2005 Negotiations postponed.
3 October 2005 The beginning of negotiations.
20 October 2005 Beginning of the screening process.
12 June 2006 1 chapter is opened & closed: Science & Research.
28 June 2006 2 chapters are opened: Competition Policy & Customs Union.
20 July 2006 1 chapter is opened: Social Policy & Employment.
11 December 2006 1 chapter is opened & closed: Education & Culture.
29 March 2007 1 chapter is opened: Intellectual Property Law.
26 June 2007 6 chapters are opened: Company Law, Financial Control, Financial Services, Information Society & Media, Right of Establishment & Freedom To Provide Services, and Statistics.
12 October 2007 2 chapters are opened: Consumer & Health Protection and External Relations.
20 December 2007 2 chapters are opened: Trans-European Networks and Financial & Budgetary Provisions.
21 April 2008 2 chapters are opened: Energy & Transport Policy.
17 June 2008 2 chapters are opened: Freedom of Movement For Workers and Social Policy & Employment.
25 July 2008 1 chapter is opened: Free Movement of Goods. 1 chapter is closed: Enterprise & Industrial Policy.
30 October 2008 1 chapter is closed: External Relations.
19 December 2008 1 chapter is opened: Public Procurement. 3 chapters are closed: Economic & Monetary Policy, Information Society & Media, and Intellectual Property Law.
23 April 2009 EU calls off talks with Croatia due to the latter having a border dispute with Slovenia over the Bay of Piran.
11 September 2009 Slovenia agrees on an immediate ending of its blockade of Croatia's EU accession & further negotiation of the Gulf of Piran border dispute between the 2 countries.
2 October 2009 Croatia closed 5 chapters & opened 6. Chapters that were closed: Company Law, Customs Union, Freedom of Movement of Workers, Statistics, and Trans-European Networks. As of October 2, Croatia has closed 12 chapters and 16 are still open. Croatia plans to open remaining chapters by the end of this year and conclude negotiations on remaining EU chapters by March 2010.
27 November 2009 3 chapters are closed: Consumer & Health Protection, Energy, and Financial Services.
21 December 2009 2 chapters are closed: Right of Establishment & Freedom To Provide Services and Social Policy & Employment.
19 February 2010 2 chapters are opened: Environment & Fisheries.
12 April 2010 EU calls next talks, where Croatia plans to open remaining chapters.

Possible accession dates

In June 2006, the EU officials projected that the accession of Croatia would likely happen in 2009 or 2010. The closure of negotiations for all chapters of the acquis communautaire is expected in 2009, while signing the Accession treaty would happen in the months afterwards. Before starting negotiations with Croatia, the acquis was divided into 35 chapters, 4 more than the previous 31; the new chapters, previously part of the agricultural policy and judiciary, are complex areas - their division into a few smaller chapters is meant to enable more efficient and expedient negotiations.

Originally, Croatia had been aiming for a 2007 accession date—such an accomplishment would have broken Slovakia's record of 2.5 years of negotiations to complete the process. It has been remarked by Olli Rehn that the EU does expect a similar speed from Croatia.

On 25 April 2007, the European Parliament congratulated Croatia for making "rapid progress" towards membership, but stated that "it must make further efforts in areas such as cooperation with the ICTY, reform of the judiciary and the transition to a market economy".[5] Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) also stressed the need for a new institutional framework for the EU by 2008 in order to accommodate Croatia. Austria and the Czech Republic predict Croatia will be ready for EU membership by 2009.[6] Lech Kaczyński, President of Poland, also supported Croatia's accession by 2009.[7] As of January 2008, negotiations are expected to be concluded by the end of 2008 with MEPs giving approval the following year before the 2009 election. A likely accession date after that would be 2011.[8]

On 6 March 2008, Krister Bringeus, the Swedish Ambassador to Serbia, was quoted as saying that Croatia and Serbia were likely to join the EU together between 2012 and 2015.[9] This comment caused considerable controversy until the Swedish government suggested that the remarks had been misreported and the Ambassador to Croatia, Lars Fredén, restated Sweden's position that it would aim to conclude negotiations during its presidency of the EU in 2009.[10]

On 13 March 2008, José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, stated that Croatia could conclude negotiations in 2009 and join the EU as early as 2010, after the country suspended a dispute over fishing that it had with Slovenia.[11][12]

In June 2006, commissioner Rehn stated that there will be no further enlargement of the European Union in this decade other than the 2007 accessions of Bulgaria and Romania, due to the impasse in EU treaty reform following the rejection of the European Constitution in France and The Netherlands. Nevertheless, Croatia will probably be the "first to meet all necessary conditions" and, therefore, be "the next country on the list", according to Rehn.[13] German Chancellor Merkel and French President Sarkozy are blocking further enlargement of the EU unless reform are in place with Lisbon Treaty been ratified. The Lisbon treaty came into force 1 December 2009.

Ireland did not ratify the Treaty of Lisbon in a referendum on the proposed Twenty-eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland held on 12 June 2008. The referendum was needed as significant changes were made in previous EEC/EU Treaties that affect Irish Foreign Relations and Ireland's sovereignty status, and according to the constitution under the 1987 Irish Supreme Court decision, any significant change to the SEA requires permission from the Irish people in the form of a referendum, as it was determined that the Irish state's power to determine its foreign relations was held in trust from the people and could not be alienated by the government. The Treaty of Lisbon amends the SEA.

After the first Irish referendum[14], in June 2008 President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany stated that the EU will not expand beyond 27 states without reform of the current Treaty of Nice rules even though the treaty allows for such an enlargement. The Treaty of Lisbon would reform the EU, but was stalled in the ratification process, pending a second Irish referendum and ratification by Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. In October 2009, Ireland approved the treaty following the second referendum, followed by ratification in Germany, Poland, and after that in the Czech Republic.

Croatia's immediate accession prospects are unclear, while the French and German governments promote the view that institutional changes for more efficient decision processes are essential for further enlargement, states such as the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic argue that the existing framework is sufficient.[14]

On 5 November 2008, the European Commission's annual progress report on Croatia's candidacy was published. Enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn stated that the country should complete accession negotiations by the end of 2009, with membership following by 2011 at the latest.[15]

In 2009 it was reported that Iceland may be fast-tracked into the European Union.[16] Rehn said that "the EU prefers two countries joining at the same time rather than individually. If Iceland applies shortly and the negotiations are rapid, Croatia and Iceland could join the EU in parallel," probably in 2011.

Croatia's application could be derailed due to a border dispute with Slovenia over the Bay of Piran which had earlier threatened Croatia's application with NATO which only went through after Slovenia backed down, EU has called off the next round of talks and have not given a new date "subject to positive development" in between the two countries over this issue.[17] In November 2009, EU accession negotiations were resumed after Jadranka Kosor signed an agreement with Borut Pahor, that set up a new framework for the resolution of the border dispute. Nevertheless, at least six months had been lost due to the blockade. Croatia now hopes to finish negotiations in 2010.

See also


  1. ^ "Slovenia unblocks Croatian EU bid". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
  2. ^ "Croatia, Montenegro agree sea border issue should be settled before international court". Government of Croatia. March 12, 2008. Retrieved 2009-12-27. 
  3. ^ a b Excluding Chapters 34 (Institutions) and 35 (Other Issues) since these are not legislation chapters.
  4. ^ Vlada: 6 / predsjednik Vlade: Mr. sc. Zlatko Mateša
  5. ^ European Parliament, Croatia: Good progress towards accession and some issues remain, 25 April 2007, accessed 27 April 2007
  6. ^ Croatia could conclude EU talks in 2009 - Austria and Czech premiers
  7. ^ Poland supports Croatia's joining EU in 2009
  8. ^ Ahto Lobjakas (2008-03-05). "Balkans: EU praises Croatia, fears Serbia backlash". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 2008-03-11. 
  9. ^ "Serbia & Croatia 'join EU together'". 2008-03-06. Retrieved 2008-03-09. 
  10. ^ Mario Dragun (2008-03-07). "Press release 70/08". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Croatia. Retrieved 2008-03-07. 
  11. ^ "EU says Croatia on course to join the bloc in 2010". International Herald Tribune. 2008-03-13. Retrieved 2008-03-13. 
  12. ^ - Croatia 'To Join EU by 2010'
  13. ^ - Croatia will not join EU before 2010 - accessed on June 12, 2006.
  14. ^ a b Smyth, Jamie (2008-08-05). "Karadzic's arrest hailed as victory for EU enlargement policy". Irish Times. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  15. ^ Traynor, Ian (2008-11-05). "Croatia given timetable for EU entry". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  16. ^ Traynor, Ian (2009-01-30). "Iceland to be fast-tracked into the EU". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-01-30. 
  17. ^

Further reading

External links


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