Croatia’s Judiciary Reform Still Needed Ahead of 2013 EU Entry

Croatia needs to make improvements to its judicial system, competition and human-rights policies before its planned European Union entry in July 2013, the European Commission said.

“Further efforts” are necessary in judicial efficiency as well as justice, freedom and security, the commission, the bloc’s executive arm in Brussels, said in a report today.

The Adriatic Sea nation is set to become the 28th member of the world’s largest trading bloc after six years of talks and nine years after the last enlargement of the bloc, which included its former Yugoslav partner Slovenia.

Croatia, which is struggling to pull itself out of a recession, is expected to receive hundreds of millions of euros from EU funds for regional and infrastructure development.

“It is essential that Croatia sharpens its focus to ensure that its preparations are completed on time,” the commission said in the report, adding that a final assessment on the country will be presented in Spring 2013.

Croatia has completed talks on policy areas including agriculture, environmental protection, fisheries and trade. It improved competition by selling state-subsidized, unprofitable shipyards and started reforms in education, government administration and health care.

Croatian authorities in the past year investigated hundreds of corruption cases, targeting government officials and ruling- party members, including former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, who on trial for abuse of power and corruption.

Croatia also had to overcome the effects of the Balkan wars during the breakup of Yugoslavia that devastated the region’s economy and led to the creation of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jasmina Kuzmanovic at jkuzmanovic@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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