Magazine article Europe-East

Enlargement : Barroso: Zagreb Can Conclude Accession Talks in 2009

Magazine article Europe-East

Enlargement : Barroso: Zagreb Can Conclude Accession Talks in 2009

Article excerpt

Zagreb should be able to conclude its EU accession negotiations in 2009, provided a number of conditions are met, the European Commission's President, Jose Manuel Barroso, said at a joint press briefing with Croatia's Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, on 13 March in Brussels. "It should be possible to conclude the technical negotiations next year, preferably by the end of the mandate of this Commission [in November 2009]," Barroso said.

This was the first time the Commissiona- which along with the Council carries out the negotiationsa- has indicated a date for the technical conclusion of Croatia's talks. Allowing time for ratification by the 27 member states, this would mean Croatia could join the EU in late 2010 or 2011.

Barroso underlined, however, that in order to reach this goal, Croatia has to strictly follow a timetable, to be presented by the Commission in autumn 2008. Prior to that, Zagreb has to meet four requirements. First, by June 2008, Croatia needs to meet all the opening benchmarks, paving the way to the launch of negotiations on 11 chapters that are yet to be opened (no benchmarks have been set for an additional eight chapters, which are also to be opened). Secondly, Zagreb has to comply with "all legal obligations" under the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) and must continue to comply with "all general" provisions of the Stabilisation and Association Process. Moreover, the government in Zagreb "urgently" needs to improve the management of EU assistance in the country. …

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