Croatia Gets a Very Positive Avis
21 April 2004
Chris Patten, EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner
Yesterday, in Strasbourg, the European Commission recommended in its avis to the European Union to start the negotiations with Croatia on full membership in the Union. Avis is a document used by the Commission to evaluate, on the request of the Council of Ministers, the capacities of a country to start the negotiations on full membership and to accept the responsibilities and obligations charged in the full membership.
'The Commission recommends that the negotiations on integration of Croatia into the European Union should be opened’, state the conclusions of the avis. It lists not requirements or conditions, but cites, among other points, that the Chief Prosecutor of The Hague Tribunal, Carla Del Ponte, said this month that “Croatia is fully cooperating with the ICTY.’
Romano Prodi, EU Commission President
However, the avis also states that Croatia needs to make additional efforts in the fields of minority rights, return of refugees, reforms of the judiciary, regional cooperation and fight against corruption. It states that the political criteria were fulfilled and that Croatia is a functioning democracy with stable institutions which guarantee the rule of law in the country.
Majority of economic criteria were also fulfilled, with the conclusion that Croatia “can be considered a functioning market economy” and the addition that, in mid-term, Croatia should be able to compete with the competition pressure and the market forces in the Union, if it continues with the programme of reforms in order to eliminate the remaining weaknesses of its economic system.”
The environmental protection was the sole field for which it was estimated that no long-term engagement would be needed to fulfill the criteria, but it will require great investments.
'In order to assist Croatia in the preparations for accession negotiations, it would be necessary to undertake a thorough analysis of the harmonization of legislation. The Commission, moreover, proposes to the EU to prepare a pre-accession strategy for Croatia and to prepare the necessary proposals”, state the conclusions of the avis.
Simultaneously with the avis, the Commission presented the draft-European partnership document for Croatia, which identifies the priorities in the preparations for accession.