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Croatia – Justice and security

Candidate countries conduct negotiations with the European Union (EU) in order to prepare themselves for accession. The accession negotiations cover the adoption and implementation of European legislation (acquis) and, more specifically, the priorities identified jointly by the Commission and the candidate countries in the analytical assessment (or ‘screening’) of the EU’s political and legislative acquis. Each year, the Commission reviews the progress made by candidates and evaluates the efforts required before their accession. This monitoring is the subject of annual reports presented to the Council and the European Parliament.

ACT

Commission Report [COM(2010) 660 final – SEC(2010) 1326 - Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

The 2010 Report highlights the significant advancements made by Croatia to improve its legislation on asylum and immigration. These improvements concern the control of external borders, judicial cooperation, the fight against drugs and the extradition procedures with Serbia. Despite the significant progress, alignment with the acquis must continue with regard to visas.

EUROPEAN UNION ACQUIS (according to the Commission's words)

EU policies in the area of justice and home affairs aim at maintaining and developing the Union as an area of freedom, security and justice. On issues such as border control, visas, migration, asylum, police cooperation, combating organised crime and cooperation with regard to drug trafficking, customs cooperation and judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters, Member States need to be equipped to ensure that they are able to implement adequate standards and an increasing number of common rules. In order to do this, it is important first and foremost that the bodies responsible for applying the law and other competent bodies have robust and integrated administrative capacities which comply with the set standards. The setting up of a professional, reliable and efficient police force is of paramount importance. The Schengen acquis, which entails the lifting of internal border controls in the EU, is the most detailed element of the EU’s policies on justice, freedom and security. However, substantial parts of the Schengen acquis are implemented by the new Member States, following a separate decision taken by the Council after their accession.

EU policies relating to the judicial system and fundamental rights aim at pursuing and aiding the development of the Union as an area for freedom, security and justice. The establishment of an independent and efficient judicial system is of paramount importance. Impartiality, integrity and a high level of competency regarding the rulings made by courts are essential in maintaining the rule of law. This requires a firm commitment to eliminate all external influences on the judicial system and to dedicate the appropriate financial resources and training facilities to it. It is necessary to offer the necessary legal guarantees to ensure fair judicial procedures. Member States must also tackle corruption effectively insofar as it represents a risk to the stability of democratic institutions and the rule of law. It is necessary to establish a solid judicial framework and reliable institutions to which a coherent policy for preventing and dissuading corruption may be applied. Member States must ensure that the fundamental rights and the rights of EU citizens, as guaranteed by the acquis and the Charter for Fundamental Rights, are respected.

EVALUATION (according to the Commission's words)

Croatia has made good progress on judiciary and fundamental rights. Reform of the judiciary has continued with the adoption of new legislation strengthening judicial independence and a further reduction of the case backlog.

However, judicial reform remains a major undertaking and significant challenges remain, especially relating to judicial efficiency, independence and accountability.

Anti-corruption efforts have been stepped up with some positive results but corruption remains prevalent in many areas. A track record of effective investigation, prosecution and court rulings remains to be established, especially for high level corruption. Preventive measures such as improved transparency of public spending need to be strengthened.

Protection of fundamental rights has been strengthened but need to be improved in practice, especially for minorities and refugees.

Croatia made substantial progress in the field of justice, freedom and security. The asylum system has been significantly improved, but attention needs to be paid to integrating persons granted protection in Croatia and to protecting minors among irregular migrants.

Good progress has been made in the field of visas. However, alignment with the acquis on visas needs to continue.

Progress has been made in the field of external borders. However, several aspects of the integrated border management action plan need to be amended and the upgrading of equipment needs to be stepped up.

Significant progress was made in the field of judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters.

Progress also continued in the counternarcotics policy.

RELATED ACTS

Commission Report [COM(2009) 533 final – SEC(2009) 1333 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Commission Report [COM(2008) 674 final – SEC(2008) 2694 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The November 2008 report indicated that progress had been achieved especially on the fight against drugs and trafficking of human beings. However, further efforts were needed with regard to border management and the fight against organised crime. Reforming the judicial system had continued, though at a rather slow pace, and most of the tools to fight against corruption were already in place. Nevertheless, challenges still remained in terms of the judiciary as well as corruption. Efforts were also to be stepped up in terms of administrative capacity, in order to ensure Croatia’s proper implementation and enforcement of the EU acquis at the time of its accession.

Commission Report [COM(2007) 663 final – SEC(2007) 1431 – Not published in the Official Journal].
The November 2007 report noted that progress had been made, particularly on border management, migration and asylum. However, the action plan for integrated border management still had to be implemented and the equipment upgraded. Efforts were to be continued to ensure sufficient administrative and enforcement capacity, particularly in terms of inter-institutional cooperation.

Commission Report [COM(2006) 649 final – SEC(2006) 1385 – Not published in the Official Journal].
The November 2006 report noted progress in border management, visa policy and asylum. However, the action plan for integrated border management still had to be updated and the equipment modernised. Progress had been made in aligning with the acquis, but further efforts were needed.

Commission Report [COM(2005) 561 final - SEC(2005) 1424 - Not published in the Official Journal].
The October 2005 report noted that Croatia had made headway in aligning its legislation, adopting international instruments and regulating the management of its borders.

Commission Opinion [COM(2004) 257 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
In its April 2004 opinion, the Commission acknowledged that Croatia had made an effort to align its legislation with the acquis. Considerable progress had been made in reforming institutions, such as the police, the border police and the Financial Intelligence Unit. However, further investment was required in plant and equipment, in infrastructure and in strengthening the administrative capacity of the various law enforcement agencies. Furthermore, greater efforts were needed with regard to the rights of minorities, the return of refugees, the reform of the judicial system, regional cooperation and the fight against corruption.

Last updated: 02.12.2010

See also

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