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Brussels, 2nd March 2011

The Commission adopted today an interim report on the progress made by Croatia in the area of judiciary and fundamental rights

The interim report on judiciary and fundamental rights (Chapter 23) assesses progress made so far by Croatia and identifies areas where further substantive efforts are still needed. It sets out clearly what Croatia needs to do to meet the closing benchmarks.

The report concludes that Croatia has made considerable progress in the field of judiciary and fundamental rights. However, further work, which is explicitly highlighted in the report, remains to be done in particular to establish convincing track-records in the field of the judiciary and the fight against corruption, to address impunity for war crimes and to settle the outstanding refugee return issues.

Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood policy, Štefan Füle said: ''I commend the Croatian government's efforts in this key chapter. The Commission continues to support Croatia on the last stretch of its path towards EU membership and is ready to propose the closing of negotiations as soon as Croatia has met all remaining requirements identified in today's report. I am hopeful that this report will help the Croatian government and Croatian society as a whole to redouble their efforts in this crucial area."


Accession negotiations with Croatia were opened in 2005. Currently, 28 out of 35 chapters have been provisionally closed. Negotiations on chapter 23 – Judiciary and fundamental rights were opened in June 2010. The provisional closure of negotiations on this chapter can only be proposed once the established closing benchmarks are met. These benchmarks cover the following four areas: (1) judiciary; (2) fight against corruption and organised crime; (3) fundamental rights and (4) ICTY co-operation.

In its Communication "Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2010-2011" adopted on 9 November 2010, the Commission stated that it would "closely monitor Croatia's progress in the field of judiciary and fundamental rights and take stock of the situation in the first quarter of 2011". The Commission noted that chapter 23 requires the establishment of convincing and credible track records and hence is likely to be among the last chapters to be provisionally closed.

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