Brussels, 12 October 2011
Key findings of the 2011 progress report on Croatia
The Progress Report on Croatia is part of the 2011 Enlargement package adopted by the European Commission on 12 October. The package also comprises a favourable opinion on Croatia's accession to the European Union in accordance with Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union. In the Progress Report on Croatia, the Commission concluded that the country has made good overall progress, in particular in the fields of judiciary and fundamental rights, competition as well as justice, freedom and security. The remaining commitments should be met before accession. The Commission will carefully monitor the progress made by Croatia in all areas up to the date of accession.
Croatia continues to meet the political criteria. Good progress has been made in the area of rule of law. New legislation has strengthened the independence of the judiciary and adequate measures were taken to improve its efficiency. Anticorruption efforts have yielded positive results including in cases of high level corruption. New improved laws regarding access to information, conflict of interest and the financing of political activities have been enacted. Progress has been made with the impartial handling of war crimes trials.
Croatia has committed to continue ensuring sustainable results in particular in the fields of judicial and administrative reforms, fight against corruption, minority rights, refugee return and war crimes. The track record of effective handling of corruption cases needs to be further developed and the new preventive legal framework increasing transparency in public procurement, party financing, and conflict of interest needs to be fully implemented. Further efforts are recommended to continue building a modern, reliable, de-politicised and citizen oriented public service.
Croatia is a functioning market economy. It should be able to cope with competitive pressures and market forces within the Union, provided that it continues to implement its comprehensive reform programme with determination in order to reduce structural weaknesses.
Croatia's economy has recently shown signs of a mild expansion following three years of recession which has resulted in higher unemployment, public deficits and debt. Although the current account deficit has fallen sharply, external debt has continued to increase and remains a key vulnerability of the economy. Monetary policy has maintained exchange rate and financial stability. Fiscal policy has, to some extent, contained the negative budgetary consequences of the recession. Further efforts are needed as regards structural reforms, including reforms of the labour market and improvements in the business environment.
Croatia's preparations for meeting EU requirements have brought further progress in all key areas, including in those chapters where the level of alignment with EU rules was already high. However, additional efforts are needed in certain areas such as to finalise the restructuring process for the shipyards and to strengthen further the administrative capacity necessary for the proper implementation of the EU legislation, and standards, as well as the absorption of EU funds.
EU–CROATIA: KEY DATES
February 2003: Croatia submits EU membership application
April 2004: The European Commission issues a positive opinion on Croatia’s application for EU membership application
June 2004: Croatia obtains the status of candidate country
1 February 2005: Entry into force of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU
3 October 2005: Start of accession negotiations
30 June 2011: An Inter-Governmental Conference closes the accession negotiations
12 October 2011: The European Commission adopts a favourable opinion on Croatia's accession to the EU
December 2011: Signature of the Accession Treaty
1 July 2013: Accession of Croatia, subject to the ratification of the Accession Treaty
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