Croatia 'best prepared country' to join EU
Croatia is probably the best-prepared of all the countries that have joined the EU in recent years, according to Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič on an official visit there just two weeks before Croatia becomes the 28th EU Member State.
In a series of meetings with Croatian politicians and citizens, V-P Šefčovič said that the bar for accession countries had now been raised so high by successive enlargements that Croatia had had to do more than almost any other EU Member State before joining the EU. "I believe that you will start functioning as a Member State much quicker and more easily than most countries that joined in 2004 and later," he said.
And he stressed that Croatia's path to EU membership was all the more impressive given the devastating impact of the war that ripped the former Yugoslavia apart in the early 1990s. The prospect of future EU membership, he said, had helped support the political development of Croatia over the last 20 years. Croatia should act as a role model for other countries in the Western Balkans with EU aspirations, he added.
V-P Šefčovič held talks with many senior Croatian officials on his two-day visit, including Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic and Deputy Prime Minister and European Affairs Minister Vesna Pusic, with whom he discussed the practical impact of Croatia's accession, including the need to recruit Croatian officials for all the institutions. Some 249 Croatian officials of all levels are expected to be recruited over the next five years.
He also met with the Croatian Commissioner-Designate, Neven Mimica, whose appointment was approved this week by the European Parliament, congratulating him on his new role as the Commissioner responsible for the important portfolio of consumer protection. In his meeting with the speaker of the Croatian parliament Josip Leko, he discussed the key role of national parliaments in the European policy arena, ahead of a meeting with members of the Parliament's EU and foreign affairs committees and the newly-elected Croatian MEPs.