Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/western Balkans : Barroso Gives Zagreb Political Boost

Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/western Balkans : Barroso Gives Zagreb Political Boost

Article excerpt

Against the backdrop of massive anti-government demonstrations in Zagreb, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has praised the efforts of Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor and her cabinet to bring the country closer to the European Union. "In my six years as Commission president, I find this the most convinced and committed Croatian government for European integration," said Barroso in a statement issued on his visit to the country, on 7 April, that was part of his two-day trip to the Western Balkan region. He expressed his confidence that the conclusion of the accession talks with Croatia is "within reach". "You are very close to the finishing line. But a final effort is still needed," he added.

The Commission listed, at the beginning of March, the remaining reforms Zagreb has to successfully implement in in the areas of the judiciary and fundamental rights to be able to complete its accession talks by the end of June. The Croatian government is currently working on the adoption, by mid-May, of an action plan on the implementation of all remaining laws in order to meet the Commission's benchmarks.

A wave of popular anti-government protests that has been sweeping through Croatia in recent weeks has destabilised the political situation in the country, putting in jeopardy Zagreb's plan to conclude its accession negotiations with the EU by end of June. EU diplomats fear that possible early parliamentary elections may block the socially and politically painful reforms that Croatia needs to undertake to successfully conclude negotiations in such areas as competition or the judiciary. …

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