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Croatia’s EU hopes take beating over legal matters

A newly published report found that Croatia is still far from meeting key requirements of joining the European Union.

Croatia’s accession into the European Union is still not viable, the EU Commission’s report said. High officials of the Commission stated several reasons for denying Croatia progress, which included four major areas: the judiciary, the fight against corruption and organized crime, fundamental rights and cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy, Štefan Füle, said that Croatia needs to show they are serious about recruiting and appointing judges and prosecutors, since the number of civil cases and case backlogs were too high.

Commissioner Füle also commented that Croatia needed to ‘properly investigate’ war crimes and prosecute criminals involved. Regarding Croatia’s co-operation with the ICTY, the EU will await the coming Brammertz report that is due in May as well as progress made by the task force developing new ways of locating missing artillery documents.

Overall, the Commission’s assessment of Croatia’s standing was ‘mixed’ as there had been some progress made in respect to the judiciary and fundamental rights, but there was still much more work to be done. Croatia has set the goal of June for completing the criteria needed to close chapter 23 of the accession process dealing with judiciary matters. The Hungarian presidency has stated that this is a priority. Now, the commission views the June goal as ‘ambitious.’

Croatia has been in accession negotiations with the European Union since 2005. Now, 28 out of 35 chapters have been provisionally closed.