EU: Croatia to close two more chapters

EU member-states have given their consent to close two chapters in Croatia’s admission negotiations, EU sources say.

The chapters on the freedom to provide services and social politics and employment will be formally closed at the inter-governmental conference for EU admission, which will be held at the ministerial level in Brussels on Monday, Croatian news agency Hina reported, adding that Croatia would have more than half of its negotiations closed at that point.

The board of permanent EU representatives, consisting of member-state ambassadors, gave the green light for the opening of additional chapters on Thursday.

Croatia is expected to continue its admission negotiations with the EU in the first part of the next year. There are 16 more chapters need to be closed, but five have not been opened yet.

The chapter regarding the judiciary and fundamental rights, which depends on cooperation with the Hague Tribunal and submission of the artillery logs to the international court, has yet to be opened.

Croatia has had three chapters that are technically ready for a long time now, including chapters on Foreign, Security and Defense Policies, the Environment, and Fishery. They have not been opened because Slovenia has not given its consent yet.

Slovenian representatives said that they were working on these chapters and that they could be ready in early 2010.

A European diplomat stated that Slovenia still had “reservations regarding the start of negotiations about the new chapters” concerning environment, fishery, foreign politics, security and defense, France-Presse has reported.

The source said that reasons for this were unknown.

Slovenia, which has been a member of the EU since 2004, accepted to abolish the veto on the continuation of Croatian admission negotiations with the EU in October, after a nine-month blockade over the border dispute with Croatia.

The two countries signed an agreement to have their dispute solved by international arbitration in the beginning of November.

Zagreb could complete its admission negotiations during 2010 and enable Croatia to join the EU in 2011, France-Presse stated.

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