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Croatia still has much to do in EU negotiations, Degert says

Croatia still has much work to do to cement its position as front-runner for membership of the European Union, said Vincent Degert, head of the European Commission's delegation in the country.

The Balkan state, which must satisfy the EU that its legislation and regulations meet membership standards in 35 areas, known as chapters, has completed two and opened talks in three more, Degert told reporters in Zagreb today. Croatia started entry talks with the EU in 2005 and is next in line to become a member after Romania and Bulgaria joined on January 1. There are seven areas of talks in which negotiations cannot start until Croatia meets benchmarks, Degert said. These include agriculture, justice, freedom and security and competition. The EU is asking the government to ensure „reforms, be they the economy or on the political side, reform of justice and the fight against corruption,” he said. „For all these technical aspects on all those topics we need good performing administration, this is crucial.” Degert also said several EU officials including Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn will visit Zagreb in the first half. (Bloomberg)