Croatia expects to speed up negotiations on the EU membership during the French Presidency

Croatia’s expectations of the French Presidency are very high and primarily focused on speeding up the negotiations on EU membership. It was announced through bilateral high-level contacts that Croatia might open all the remaining chapters by the end of French Presidency and conclude some of them.[1] So far Croatia has opened negotiation on 20 chapters and provisionally closed two chapters, while Croatian Government submitted reports on all the remaining opening benchmarks on 30 June.
Related to the French Presidency programme, the most debated issue in Croatia was the proposal for establishing the Union for the Mediterranean. For the first time, the academic round table was organised by the “Heinrich Böll Foundation”[2] in Croatia under the title “EUROTACIJE” with the aim to discuss the priorities of the EU-presidency. As it was announced, it will become a practice before every following EU-presidency.[3] After the initiative for establishing a Mediterranean Union faced negative reactions in most Mediterranean EU member states, where the initiative was understood as strengthening the French influence in the region, the idea was transferred in a form which could satisfy the EU and the other Mediterranean countries as well as Croatia, who would like to have active role in the association, wrote Neven Šantić, a journalist.[4] Nives Malenica from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, expressed the readiness of Croatia to take active part on a political and sectoral level of the Union for the Mediterranean, seen as an upgrade of the Barcelona Process. Croatia’s expectations are to have full involvement in the Euro-Mediterranean policy and to share economic and political interests in this area. The Mediterranean region deserves much better consideration from all the countries that surround it and this is the reason why Croatia should become a member of this Union, stressed Tonči Tadić, former Croatian MP. However, Michael Emerson from the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Brussels was very critical regarding the idea and opened a number of questions and dilemmas on the round table, saying that it would be difficult to expect spectacular results from the Union in a short period.[5]
The issue of the European External Action Service did not receive much attention in Croatia.

[1] This was mentioned by Vesna Pusic, president of the National Committee for Monitoring the Accession Negotiations, In the Network of the First Programme, Croatian Radio, 1 July 2008, 8.30 a.m.

[2] The German Heinrich Böll Foundation is an independent political foundation with close relations to the German Green Party.

[3] The first round table was organised in the Mediterranean Centre for Life Research in Split on 12 June 2008.

[4] Neven Šantić: “The Union for Mediterranean – a challenge for the EU and the Arabic countries”. Novi list, 15 June 2008, p. 14.
[5] Ibid.