German MP Warns Croatia Not Ready for Europe

A German MP has questioned whether Croatia is ready to join the European Union.Norbert Lammert, president of the Bundestag, the German parliament, last week told the German media that the country is not yet prepared to become a member of the union.

“Croatia’s obviously not ready for accession yet,” said Lammert in an interview with the newspaper Welt am Sonntag. He added that the “last European commission report on Croatia has to be taken very seriously because of experiences with Bulgaria and Romania”.

Croatia has ended EU negotiations, signed an accession agreement and been given the accession date of July 1, 2013. But it is still under EU monitoring which could influence the process of ratifying the accession agreement in the parliaments of all 27 member states. All 27 have to ratify the agreement before July 1.

The last EC monitoring report on Croatia, published last Wednesday, highlighted ten tasks the country must carry out before it joins the union, with problems in the judiciary among the most significant challenges to overcome.

Other important issues are adopting a new freedom of information law, forming a conflict of interest commission, dealing with loss-making, state owned ship yards and forming agencies for dealing with EU funds.

Diplomats warn that German hesitation to ratify the Croatian accession agreement could cause problems in other EU member parliaments including the Netherlands and Slovenia.

But Croatian officials are remaining positive.

“I think it’s absolutely clear that Croatia would become EU member as planned if it continues to make progress, as the European Commission emphasised in the report,” Croatian president Ivo Josipovic told daily Jutarnji list on Monday.

“I’m sure we can solve the last ten tasks, but we shouldn’t behave like everything’s okay,” said foreign minister Vesna Pusic.

“I don’t have the impression Germany will make problems if we do everything EU is asking from us,” Pusic added.

Doris Pack, a German MP in the European parliament known for supporting Croatia, urged the government to pick up the pace. “They have to work more, not lose time,” Pack said.

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