Lawmakers in the European Parliament will debate Croatia’s progress towards EU membership on Wednesday, a day after Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor lobbied for her country’s bid in Brussels.
MEPs will discuss Croatia’s progress report adopted by the Foreign Affairs Committee in January, in which lawmakers said that Zagreb’s EU negotiations would be completed in early 2011 if reforms continued.
The resolution said the biggest challenge may be “selling” the benefits of EU membership to a sceptical Croatian population.
The Foreign Affairs Committee congratulated the country on its “substantial progress” in introducing reforms that are necessary for it to join the EU.
MEPs expressed concern, however, that Croatian citizens are not yet convinced of the benefits of EU membership for their country, and the resolution urged the government to make citizens “feel the European project is theirs as well”.
The Committee noted Croatia’s reformed judiciary and improved cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, but warned that progress must be made on fighting corruption, support for returning refugees and the restructuring of shipyards.
While the MEPs recognised that progress had been made in fighting graft, particularly in prosecuting several high level former government officials, corruption “seems to have been widespread in Croatia and remains a serious overall problem”. Moreover, few corruption cases have come to court and most remain at the investigation stage, they added.
Kosor was expected to meet the European Parliament President Jerzy Karol Buzek and the European Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fuele, amongst others, during her visit on Tuesday.