Croatia contemplates future EU perks of power

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As Croatia gets closer to joining the EU, Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor last week unveiled her country's potential voting quotas as a future EU member as well as its likely number of seats in the European Parliament, the HINA agency reported.

As a full-time EU member, Croatia will boast one commissioner and 12 seats in the European Parliament, Kosor said. This is one less than Slovakia and the same as Lithuania and Ireland.

Meanwhile, Zagreb would command seven votes in the Council of Ministers, which represents the governments of the 27 EU member states.

The country will also have one judge at both the European Court of Justice and the Court of Auditors, which oversee the bloc's institutions.

There are also nine seats reserved for the Western Balkan state in lower-level EU consultative bodies – the Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee.

"Croatian will become an official EU language," Kosor said, calling on all actors to complete the necessary work for accession "as soon as possible".

EU Treaty change could delay Croatia's accession

But the Balkan country's accession timetable could clash with proposed changes to the EU Treaty called for earlier this week by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The two leaders asked for changes to the treaty in order to enforce stricter budget discipline on EU members following the Greek debt crisis.

As accession treaties and EU treaty changes both require ratification by all member states, they could be voted on together.

Croatia's accession could be delayed if EU countries indeed decide to change the treaties. Merkel and Sarkozy had called for treaty change by 2013, whilst Croatia is expected to complete accession negotiations in the spring of 2011.

Hungarian President Viktor Orbán has promised to make sure that Croatia's accession talks are completed during his country's EU presidency in the first half of next year. Kosor welcomed the next EU presidency holder's promise as a "friendly gesture confirming good neighbourly relations".

Judicial cooperation and competition policy have so far represented the most difficult chapters in the country's accession talks and were the last to be opened, on 30 June this year. However, Kosor said she was "very optimistic" about completing them.

Jean de Ruyt, permanent ambassador to the EU for Belgium, the country currently holding the EU's rotating presidency, said on 22 October that full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) would be required before Croatia is allowed to close the crucial negotiation chapter on the 'Judiciary and Fundamental Rights'.

Croatia is expected to wrap up its accession negotiations next spring and sign an accession treaty with the EU by the end of the Hungarian Presidency, which follows after the current Belgian one.

Ratification of the accession treaty by all EU member states would then see Croatia join the Union. 

In February 2003 Croatia formally presented its EU membership application and in April the following year the European Commission agreed to open EU accession negotiations.

The process was delayed in March 2005 when the EU questioned Croatia's cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). It was interrupted again in 2008 over a border dispute with Slovenia, which was resolved by arbitration and supported by a referendum in Slovenia.

  • 25 Oct: PM Kosor is in Brussels to meet Commission President José Manuel Barroso.

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