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Croatia: EC Enlargement

Volume 503: debated on Thursday 7 January 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent progress has been made on accession negotiations between the EU and Croatia; and if he will make a statement. (308360)

On 21 December 2009 the EU and Croatia provisionally closed a further two chapters of the accession negotiations, bringing the total provisionally closed to 17 out of 35. A further 11 chapters are open and under negotiation.

The European Commission published its annual report on enlargement on 14 October 2009 which assessed that Croatia’s preparations had advanced substantially across the board in 2009, that technical negotiations are now nearing their final phase, and that if Croatia meets all outstanding benchmarks in time it could be possible to conclude negotiations in 2010. But Croatia has much to do if it is to meet this time scale. Reform efforts need to be stepped up in the areas of judiciary and fundamental rights, in particular as regards the independence and efficiency of the judiciary, the fight against corruption and organised crime, minority rights, including refugee returns, and war crimes trials. Public administration reform also requires particular attention. Croatia also needs to take all necessary steps to settle the issue of access for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to important documents.

The General Affairs Council on 7 and 8 December 2009 took stock of progress, commended Croatia for good overall progress, underlined the importance of meeting all benchmarks, called for the completion of a credible investigation into military documents requested by the Prosecutor of ICTY and welcomed the establishment of a working group for drafting an Accession treaty.