Croatia has made good overall progress in all areas of the accession process over the past 12 months, the European Commission (EC) said in a report on Wednesday (October 12th), issuing also a favourable opinion on the country’s planned EU entry in 2013.
Praising Croatia for the headway it has made in the fields of judiciary and fundamental rights — as well as justice, freedom and security in particular — the Commission urged Zagreb to focus on fulfilling all other commitments it has made during the membership talks with Brussels.
“The remaining commitments should be met before accession,” the EC said in its annual progress report. “The commission will carefully monitor the progress made by Croatia in all areas up to the date of accession.”
Croatia began its membership negotiations with the EU in October 2005. Upon the completion of talks on June 30th this year, Brussels set July 1st 2013 as a provisional date for the country’s entry into the Union as its 28th member.
The treaty is expected to be signed officially on December 19th.
“I must say I don’t feel any special euphoria because of this recent report. Just one of many. We have had so many requirements from the EU that I must say I don’t really pay much attention to those news anymore,” says Economics student Ivana Ljubicic.
Zagreb resident Maja Antic told SETimes that she hopes now all the work with the EU is finished and “we will sign all the Treaties and then join and have the equal rights as citizens of other EU countries when it comes to traveling and studying opportunities”.
Mato Tokic, who is a cook, says he likes the findings of the report. “This shows we have done our job well and that we are ready to join,” he told SETimes.
EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule voiced hope on Wednesday that the European Parliament will give its consent in due time to allow this to happen as planned.
Presenting the bloc’s 2011 enlargement package, including Croatia’s progress report and those on the other EU candidates and potential candidates, the commissioner cited Croatia as “the best example” of the credibility of Brussels’s expansion policy.
“Our policy is credible because countries deliver on their reforms, and the EU delivers on its commitments once the conditions are met,” said Fule.
“Democracy functions. Fundamental rights are respected. The economy has weathered the financial crisis,” Fule said. “And Croatia will be ready to accept the rights and obligations of membership from the day of accession.”
But until that happens, the Balkan nation, which is set to become the second former Yugoslav republic to join the Union following Slovenia’s entry in 2004, has more work to do.
“Croatia has committed to continue ensuring sustainable results, in particular in the fields of judicial and administrative reforms, fight against corruption, minority rights, refugee return and war crimes,” the EC said.
SETimes correspondent Natasa Radic contributed to this report.