European Scrutiny Committee Contents

65 EU Enlargement: Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia




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COM(10) 400




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COM(10) 401

Commission Report on progress in Bulgaria under the Co-operation and Verification Regime

Commission Report on progress in Romania under the Co-operation and Verification Regime

Legal base
Documents originated20 July 2010
Deposited in Parliament26 July 2010
DepartmentForeign and Commonwealth Office
Basis of considerationEM of 27 July 2010 and Minister's letter of 20 June 2010
Previous Committee ReportNone; but see (31436)7947/10 and (31437)

7948/10: HC 5-xviii (2009-10), chapter 7 (7 April 2010); (30828) 12386/09 and (30829) 12388/09: HC 19-xxvi (2008-09), chapter 22 (10 September 2009); (30347) 6405/09 and (30348) 6407/09: HC 19-xvii (2008-09), chapter 8 (13 May 2009), HC 19-xiv (2008-09), chapter 6 (22 April 2009) and HC 19-xii (2008-09), chapter 3 (25 March 2009); also see (29876) 12177/08 and (29877) 12182/08 HC 16-xxix (2007-08), chapter 2 (10 September 2008); (29431) 6150/08 and (29432) 6161/08 HC 16-xiii (2007-08), chapter 15 (27 February 2008); (28754) 11491/07 and (28768) 11489/07 HC 41-xxxii (2006-07), chapter 11 (25 July 2007) and (27865) 13347/06: HC 34-xxxviii (2005-06) chapter 3 (18 October 2006)

To be discussed in Council13 September 2010 General Affairs Council
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared


65.1 The accession negotiations with Romania and Bulgaria were concluded in December 2004 and a Treaty of Accession was signed on 25 April 2005. The UK ratified the Treaty on 5 April 2006.

65.2 The Commission's October 2005 and May 2006 monitoring reports identified a number of areas where further improvements were needed in order to meet all membership requirements, and all of which went to the heart of a properly functioning governance system based on the effective implementation of laws by an accountable, independent and effective judiciary and bureaucracy. The Accession Treaty allowed for a delay until 2008, but only if the Commission recommended that either country was "manifestly unprepared" for membership. The Commission's final verdict was that both countries would be in a position to take on the responsibilities of membership by 2007.

65.3 There were, however, still significant shortcomings, particularly on JHA issues.[284] So, various post-accession measures were put in place, the most crucial being the Mechanism on Cooperation and Verification (CVM) — a process whereby, having set benchmarks on JHA issues, the Commission works closely with both governments on steps to meet them, and reports to the European Parliament and the Council, with the sanction of non-recognition of judicial decisions under mutual recognition arrangements if progress was insufficient.[285] Accession on 1 January 2007 was now essentially a fait accompli; however, given the range of outstanding issues and their implications for actual and aspiring candidates, the Commission's final verdict was debated in the European Standing Committee on 15 January 2007.[286]

65.4 Bulgaria's benchmarks are:

—  Benchmark 1 — Independence/ accountability of judicial system

—  Benchmark 2 — Transparency/efficiency of judicial process

—  Benchmark 3 — Reform of the judiciary

—  Benchmark 4 — High level corruption

—  Benchmark 5 — Corruption at borders and in local government

—  Benchmark 6 — Organised crime

65.5 Romania's benchmarks are:

—  Benchmark 1 — Reform of judicial process

—  Benchmark 2 — Establishment of an integrity agency

—  Benchmark 3 — Investigation of high level corruption

—  Benchmark 4 — Corruption, in particular within local government

65.6 The Commission monitors progress and writes reports every 6 months: interim reports at the start of the year and main reports at mid-year. The previous Committee's consideration of earlier reports is enumerated in the headnote; the most recent being the Commission's interim reports of March 2010.[287]

65.7 The main reports provide an over-view of progress, while the accompanying technical reports detail progress on each benchmark since the last full report in July 2009.


65.8 In this year's report the Commission points to "a strong reform momentum which has been established in Bulgaria" since the July 2009 annual report, and says that the new strategy for judicial reform "demonstrates the existence of a strong political will in Bulgaria to achieve a deep and lasting reform of the judiciary". The report also recommends that Bulgaria improve judicial practice in order to allow the judiciary to act more pro-actively and to show a stronger sense of responsibility. It says that important reforms of its penal procedures have been adopted. Legislation to strengthen asset forfeiture and to improve protection against conflict of interest is under discussion. The structural set-up of the prosecution to deal with fraud and organised crime has been strengthened. Organised crime is actively tackled for the first time since the inception of the CVM. In June the Government adopted "an ambitious and far-reaching strategy which provides a blue-print for a comprehensive, long term reform of the judiciary", and the most pressing reforms to improve the efficiency, accountability and consistency of the judicial process "are in the process of consultation within the Government." The strong push for reform by the Government is showing some results; allegations of corruption within the judiciary are receiving a stronger disciplinary and criminal response than in the past; the number of indictments for organised crime has increased, severe sentences were pronounced, but not yet enforced, in a case involving large scale fraud of EU funds in April and June.

65.9 At the same time, the Commission's analysis shows that important deficiencies remain in judicial practice both at the level of the prosecution and at the level of the court. The judicial process in Bulgaria lacks initiative and professional capacity. Complex investigations show a lack of direction and purpose, procedures are too formal and too long and often fail in court. There are continuing shortcomings regarding the prevention of corruption and protection against conflict of interest. Effective implementation of the new national anti-corruption strategy adopted in November 2009 has not yet started. The implementation of the conflict of interest law is insufficiently effective. Shortcomings in the implementation of public procurement procedures are widespread. To strengthen the prevention of corruption and conflict of interest, Bulgaria should pursue its plans to create a special and independent commission for protection against conflict of interest, accelerate the implementation of the action plan for the national anti-corruption strategy and strengthen legislation on asset forfeiture.

65.10 The Commission concludes its report with a further 11 recommendations covering Reform of the Judiciary, the Fight against Organised Crime and the Fight against Corruption. Success, the Commission says, will require a sustained commitment by Bulgaria, the Commission and other Member States. For now, "Bulgaria has established a new partnership with the Commission and improved the quality of its reporting on progress under the CVM. The Commission will continue to support Bulgaria in achieving further progress under the CVM and provide its next assessment in summer 2011."

65.11 In his accompanying Explanatory Memorandum of 27 July 2010, the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) describes the situation under each Benchmark as follows:

"Benchmark 1: Independence/accountability of the judicial system: The report focuses on the work of the Inspectorate of the Supreme Judicial Council (ISCJ), noting that inspections have taken place in four of Bulgaria's five appellate regions, issuing recommendations and following up on compliance where appropriate. The report notes that the newly institutionalised Commission on the Analysis and Follow-up to the ISJC Recommendations has oversight of the implementation of the measures recommended by the ISCJ, which is then controlled by follow-up inspections as recommended in the last Commission reports. The report also finds that between August 2009 and May 2010, a total of 70 disciplinary proceedings against members of the judiciary and magistracy were completed, with 13 sanctions imposed.

"Benchmark 2: Transparency/efficiency of judicial process: In response to a Commission recommendation in July 2009, the Government has adopted several amendments to the Penal Procedure Code (PPC). The amendments are designed to avoid undue delays in hearings, extend investigative powers to police, streamline and simplify the pre-trial phase, and enhance the rights of defendants and victims, including through provision for translation of documents. However, the report finds that some concerns around the administration of evidence remain and the Penal Procedure remains excessively formalised. The report notes changes to plea bargaining, which Bulgaria claims has helped to speed up judicial proceedings, but recommends that Bulgaria should continue to monitor the effect of the new provisions to ensure sanctions are not too lenient. The report summarises the thematic inspections used to monitor the codes and finds that close monitoring of the PPC will need to continue to ensure effective implementation. Further legislative amendments have been prepared to the Administrative Procedure Code, to help the balancing of administrative courts' workloads, and the Judicial System Act, to further improve transparency and accountability. Steps have been taken to enhance the unification of jurisprudence through the publication of rulings of the Supreme Cassation Court (SCC) and the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC). Training of judges and regular meetings on unification of jurisprudence are being pursued. Finally, the report notes that steps have been taken to prepare reform of the Penal Code, including through public consultation. The report reiterates the urgency of reform to the Penal Code and notes that this is an outstanding recommendation from the 2009 reports.

"Benchmark 3: Reform of the judiciary: The report summarises the action taken by the Bulgarian Government in adopting its comprehensive strategy for reform of the judiciary, which focussed on three priority objectives: better management and good governance within the judiciary, placing citizens in the centre, and countering corruption in the judicial system. The report notes that the strategy received broad support in the judiciary, civil society and from politicians, and stresses that its success depends now on full implementation. Reforms have been made to enhance the transparency and professionalism of appointments to senior positions, but the report notes it is too early to assess the impact of these. Since July 2009, a number of important cases of trade in influence affected the reputation of the Bulgarian judiciary. The response of the disciplinary and judicial authorities has been mixed, with some disciplinary proceedings taking place but no criminal investigations launched.

"A central web-based interface for publishing judicial acts will add value in harmonising jurisprudence. However, the July 2009 recommendation for all courts to publish their judgements online has not yet been fulfilled, with only partial compliance noted.

"Benchmark 4: High level corruption: The report finds that efforts to fight high-level corruption have been stepped up, with cases against former ministers, former MPs and other high level officials being initiated and some reaching court. At a central level, the inter-ministerial Commission for the Prevention and Counteraction of Corruption has been given a new mandate and extended role. Further work is required to monitor the progress of this Commission. There continues to be a lack of effective administrative-level control in preventing and tackling fraud, although the institutions managing EU funds have made certain improvements. On conflicts of interest, the report finds that few cases are being sanctioned and that guidelines on the conflict of interest law, as recommended in the 2009 report, have yet to be developed. An agency to prevent conflicts of interest, also recommended by the Commission, is foreseen for 2011. Commission recommendations to protect whistle-blowers remain unaddressed. The joint teams on EU fraud have achieved better results in terms of number of cases in pre-trial proceedings, indictments and court sentences compared to 2009. Severe sentences in two cases related to EU funds were issued. However, the report details a number of areas where investigation of fraud needs further improvement and concludes that penalties for EU fraud remain low compared to other MS.

"Benchmark 5: Corruption at borders and in local government: An action plan was adopted on 17 March to assist the implementation of the strategy on corruption and organised crime. Implementation of the action plan was decided by the Government in June. It is too early to assess the impact at this stage. The Ministry of Interior has implemented preventative measures in the form of awareness raising campaigns and better identification at the border checkpoints. Initiatives to combat local level corruption have also been implemented. The report notes specific initiatives undertaken to help tackle corruption in the fields of health and education. It also notes that steps have been taken towards prosecutions into cases of vote buying at 2009 EU and parliamentary elections. The report also sets out the results of the Commission's analysis on controls over public procurement, which revealed significant shortcomings. It further notes that control bodies lack capacity and recommends establishing inspections to address the most blatant irregularities.

"Benchmark 6: Organised crime: The report notes that a number of operations have been carried out by the Ministry of Interior, targeting organised groups involved in kidnapping, prostitution and drug dealing. A number of arrests of well-known figures of organised crime groups have been made and there has been an increase in indictments in organised crime cases. The main defendant in a SAPARD (EU funding for agriculture projects) money laundering case has been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. Work has begun on a unified information system for combating crime to connect the databases of the Ministry of Interior, the prosecution and the courts. This is expected to be operational in 2013. A number of other reforms have been started or implemented. These include: making permanent the joint teams specialising in organised crime and corruption; creating specialised units within five district courts; structural reforms to the State Agency for National Security and the Ministry of Interior, and; a draft law facilitating the forfeiture of assets derived from illegal activities."


65.12 The main report notes that although there have been some positive achievements over the last six months there have been some serious shortcomings in Romania's efforts to achieve progress. During the second quarter of 2010, judicial reform has shown important progress with Parliament adopting the Civil and Criminal Procedural Codes, the publication of a draft multi-annual strategy for the development of justice and the preparation of a draft "Small Reforms Law". However, the report notes a lack of broad-based political commitment to support and provide direction to the reform process, and a degree of unwillingness in parts of the judiciary to cooperate and take responsibility. It notes that, with the exceptions of the examples above, there has been limited effective progress on judicial reform in the areas of: efficiency of procedures; consistency of jurisprudence, and accountability of the judiciary. In the area of anti-corruption, the report further notes that the draft National Integrity Agency (ANI) law proposed by the Senate, the Upper House of Parliament, renders the agency toothless. (ANI is the body set up to monitor wealth statements of parliamentarians and senior public sector officials, and had been making steady progress.) With the ANI having previously been fully operational, the proposed new law represents a backward step in the fight against corruption. The report states that this is in breach of the commitments Romania had taken upon accession. In its conclusions, the Commission calls upon Romania to establish close and constructive cooperation between the different political and judicial actors necessary to ensure success in the reform progress.

65.13 In his accompanying Explanatory Memorandum of 27 July 2010, the Minister for Europe describes the reports on Romania as "the most critical of any of those published since the mechanism began"; notes that, while the reports note some areas of progress, including the passing of new civil and criminal procedural codes, they conclude that Romania's performance in the past year has been disappointing and that there are key shortcomings in terms of political commitment to reform; also notes that the reports are particularly critical of the Romanian parliament's decision to strip the National Integrity Agency (ANI) of some of its powers, calling it a "clear breach of its Accession commitment"; and that Recommendations made by the reports include structural adjustments of the judiciary and "thorough reform" of the disciplinary system, and further reforms against corruption, including in the field of public procurement.

65.14 The Minister goes on to note that, although both the Bulgarian and Romanian governments would like the CVM to be lifted, "there is unlikely to be significant pressure from either country for this to happen this year" and that he supports keeping the CVM in place until all benchmarks are met.

65.15 The Minister then summarises the situation under each benchmark as follows:

"Benchmark 1. Reform of judicial process. The Civil and Criminal Procedure Codes were adopted by parliament on 22 June and promulgated by the President on 30 June. However, further work is necessary before all four codes enter into force, including on the implementing laws which have been sent to parliament for debate. The report notes that progress on the recommendation to conduct an impact assessment for the four codes has been minimal. The "Small Reforms Law" to be debated by parliament should advance the implementation of some reforms included in the procedural codes. It should also progress the recommendation to streamline the procedure for appeals. Staffing of the judiciary remains a concern. Vacancies have reduced slightly but there are questions as to whether recently appointed magistrates who have not graduated through the National Institute of Magistracy (NIM) are as well prepared as NIM graduated colleagues. The response to the 2009 recommendations to transfer vacancies to higher priority areas has been mixed. There has been progress on structural reforms to maximise the efficiency of existing personnel. The report urges the review of the geographic distribution of personnel and the possibility of a certain level of specialisation of judges.

"The Superior Council of Magistracy (SCM) has taken some steps towards more transparency by publishing decisions online. However, concerns remain over transparency, objectivity and thoroughness of interviews to promote judges to the High Court of Cassation and Justice (HCCJ). Concerns also remain over the handling of disciplinary investigations and decisions reached by the SCM.

"Benchmark 2: Establishment of an integrity agency: On 14 April the Constitutional Court found substantial and significant parts of law 144/2007 on the National Integrity Agency (ANI) unconstitutional (although the conclusion was not unanimous). As a result, the government put forward a new law on the ANI, which was adopted on 12 May. This was widely criticised by practitioners and civil society, and the President subsequently decided not to promulgate the law. However, on 30 June, the Senate (the upper house of Romania's Parliament) adopted the law again with only minor amendments. As a result, the control of assets, a fundamental element in the ANI's original competence, has been lost. The ANI, which has had a good track record in directly taking cases of unjustified wealth to court, has now been deprived of this ability, having to refer them firstly to the tax authorities or prosecutors. This important deterrent and sanction for corruption has therefore been lost. The new law includes a host of other amendments which weaken the effectiveness of the ANI's legal framework. The report notes that up until the passing of the new law, the ANI had been able to consolidate its institutional base, consolidate improvements in staffing and its operational track record, and therefore notes that it is imperative that the new law is amended. The Commission's report is highly critical of the Senate's proposed law, saying that it "breaches commitments taken by Romania upon accession." The ANI had previously strengthened case management processes, including monitoring the timely follow up by judicial and disciplinary bodies of cases submitted.

"Benchmark 3: Investigation of high level corruption: The National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) has maintained its stable and convincing track record of investigations into allegations of high-level corruption and a significant number of cases were sent to court. Overall, encouraging conviction rates have been achieved. The courts have demonstrated an increasing tendency to apply more severe sentencing, including imprisonment, although this trend has not been followed through at the final judgement stage. Concerns remain regarding the length of the trial phase in high-level corruption cases. The recommendation to apply the procedure for allowing criminal investigations of parliamentarians has only partially been fulfilled. On the positive side, the co-operation between the DNA and other relevant institutions is considered to be effective and challenges to the constitutionality of the DNA's legislature have so far been rejected by the Constitutional Court. The report notes that additional in-service training courses on fighting corruption have been scheduled. The recommendation to allow the criminal court to resolve illegality exceptions and to limit the application of suspended sentences is also being addressed. Further work is needed on the individualisation of penalties for corruption.

"Benchmark 4: Further measures against corruption including in local government: Some steps have been taken to strengthen co-ordination of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy for Vulnerable Sectors and for Local Public Administration. This strategy is now in its final months. However, despite a few additional measures proposed, the enhanced co-ordination does not so far appear to have developed to the stage of delivering better identification of vulnerable activities or corruption risks, nor mitigating actions. The report also notes that the real impact of individual actions remain unclear, which makes it difficult to ascertain which measures are actually working or need further attention. Efforts have been made to step up prevention measures in certain sectors. In the wider public administration, the Central Unit of Public Administration Reform (CUPAR) of the Ministry of Administration and Interior (MAI) has developed a guide on simplification of procedures and facilitated external expertise to identify procedures for the simplification in several public agencies. The Ministry of Education, which has identified a systemic weaknesses arising from specific corruption cases, is procuring an information system aimed at reducing corruption in the diploma system. However, overall, prevention measures need to be intensified across public institutions. There is a need to strengthen co-operation between the Fraud Investigation Service of the police and prosecutors in fraud cases. MAI has secured financing for the National Integrity Agency to consolidate anti-corruption efforts, and steps by the General Prosecutor to tackle low and medium-level corruption are beginning to deliver results. Concerns remain on public procurement, where the report describes a number of weaknesses in practice and the institutional structure. Conflict of interest legislation is insufficient and complex. Competent authorities demonstrate only limited activity aimed at preventing and detecting conflict of interest."

The Government's view

65.16 The Minister endorses the Commission's "thorough reports", which he says demonstrate how the mechanism "continues to play an essential role in guiding Romania's and Bulgaria's efforts in delivering these fundamental reforms, which are essential for public confidence and underpin their further integration into the EU."

65.17 He notes a divergence in progress over the past year between the two countries. With respect to Bulgaria, the Minister says:

"We welcome the Bulgarian government's strong demonstration of political will and commitment to reform, whilst acknowledging that there remain serious problems, especially in the fields of organised crime and the judiciary. The development of a strategy for judicial reform is promising and we urge the Bulgarian government to implement this to achieve the serious reform required."

65.18 With regard to Romania, the Minister says:

"Whilst acknowledging there has been some progress in Romania, we share the Commission's disappointment at the serious shortcomings over the past year. We are particularly concerned at the Senate's decision to strip the National Integrity Agency (ANI) of some of its powers. However, it is also important to note that President Basescu has realised that this draft ANI law is ineffective and has not signed it into law. We urge the Romanian government to urgently restore the powers of the ANI, by swiftly adopting a credible ANI law, as they have indicated that they intend to.

"The publication of the report has had a clear impact in Romania, and could be a catalyst for quick and substantive progress. President Basescu has called for a special parliamentary session in August to try and adopt a credible ANI law, the "Small Reforms Law" and a law preventing the suspension of cases when lawyers appeal to the Constitutional Court on matters of law."

65.19 Noting that this is now the fourth set of full reports issued under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism since Romania's and Bulgaria's accession, the Minister says:

"The Government urges both countries to refocus their efforts to ensure they deliver concrete progress against the recommendations made by the Commission, as well as the Commission's outstanding recommendations from 2009. Other Member States are starting to link the CVM with Bulgaria and Romania's desire to join the Schengen zone. Although the UK is not in Schengen, we recognise that fulfilling the benchmark criteria would have obvious wider benefits for both countries, including greater confidence in their border management. We continue to strongly support the CVM and remain resolute that it should remain in place until all benchmark criteria are met."

65.20 The Minister concludes by noting that further assistance will be provided using existing European Community funding under the programmes already available to Bulgaria and Romania, and explaining that:

"Romania also has access to €100m World Bank loan to upgrade its judicial infrastructure (building new court rooms etc). We will continue to support Romania on justice reform and anti-corruption through our modest bilateral programme at the British Embassy in Bucharest. Recently financed projects include funding two retired judges to help the Ministry of Justice draft sentencing guidelines, and co-funding with the Dutch a survey to address corruption in the Health Sector."

The Minister's letter of 20 June 2010

65.21 As the previous Committee noted on a number of previous occasions, its concern is not with a post-mortem on Bulgaria and Romania's accession but, rather, to ensure that the lessons that emerge from it are incorporated into the way in which subsequent accessions are handled, and specifically that of Croatia.

65.22 In its Report on the similar Commission reports of 2009, the previous Committee recalled not only its own visit to Croatia in June 2009 but also the evidence it took from the then Foreign Secretary (David Miliband) on 2 July 2009 on enlargement, with a particular focus on the lessons to be learned, and especially the Commission's earlier judgement that both Bulgaria and Romania needed to demonstrate three things:

—  "an autonomously functioning, stable judiciary, which is able to detect and sanction conflicts of interests, corruption and organised crime and preserve the rule of law";

—  "concrete cases of indictments, trials and convictions regarding high-level corruption and organised crime"; and that

—  "the legal system is capable of implementing the laws in an independent and efficient way."

On that occasion, the previous Committee asked him if he agreed that Croatia needed to meet all of these requirements before it is allowed to accede to the European Union.

65.23 The then Foreign Secretary's response is set out in that Report, together with a further letter of 25 July 2009 from him, in which he outlined in greater detail the strengthening of the accession process via the addition of a new Chapter 23 on judicial reform and fundamental rights, within which Member States would have to agree unanimously on opening and closing benchmarks, and that they had been met, before the chapter could be opened or closed. There, he noted that the Council had not yet set closing benchmarks and that "when the moment comes we and the EU will certainly want to ensure that they set clear requirements for tackling corruption, including a track record of results".[288]

65.24 Prior to the publication of these Reports and receipt of his Explanatory Memorandum, the Committee received a letter of 20 June 2010 from the Minister for Europe with an overview of progress. He notes that Croatia has now opened 30 chapters out of 35, and that 18 have been provisionally closed. He goes on to say that the Government has now managed to secure agreement on an EU negotiating position that includes "setting rigorous benchmarks in the areas we want" — including on cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for (former) Yugoslavia (ICTY) — and proposes to agree to open formal negotiations with Croatia on this basis. Before the chapter can close, a "comprehensive and robust set of benchmarks" will need to be met (31 in all, compared with the 3-6 that most other chapters have), covering a range of important issues including: judicial transparency, impartiality and efficiency; tackling corruption; protecting minority rights; resolving outstanding refugee return issues; and protection of human rights.

65.25 The Government has, the Minister says, also secured: clarification that Croatia will need to show a track record of implementation across these areas; and a closing benchmark on cooperation with ICTY:

"Full cooperation with the ICTY remains a requirement for Croatia's progress throughout the accession process, including for the provisional closure of this chapter, in line with the negotiating framework adopted by the Council on 3 October 2005."[the Minister's emphasis and italics.]

65.26 The Minister then says that:

"The Government assesses that Croatia has continued to demonstrate commitment to progress the investigation in missing documents requested by the Chief Prosecutor for the trial of General Gotovina. Since December Prime Minister Kosor has chaired 3 inter-agency meetings to drive forward an investigation by a new Task Force. The Task Force is constrained by an order from the Tribunal which prevents them from accessing documents seized from the Gotovina Defence team in December. Despite this the Task Force has conducted approximately 40 interviews with new individuals and fresh searches of premises. Chief Prosecutor Brammertz briefed the Foreign Affairs Council on 14 June and expressed his increasing confidence in the Task Force. This is reflected in his latest report to the UNSC on 18 June."

"On the basis of the agreement of a clear benchmark and this assessment of Croatian cooperation Ministers have agreed in principle to open this chapter when technical negotiations are concluded, probably on Wednesday 23 June. I spoke yesterday to Davor Bozinovic, State Secretary of the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to advise him of this and impress on him the need for Croatia to continue to progress the investigation and demonstrate its commitment to full cooperation with the ICTY."

65.27 The Minister goes on to say that the Commission will monitor Croatia's progress on this chapter closely, and that he would be happy to provide updates on progress. He also encloses an extract from ICTY Chief Prosecutor Brammertz's Oral Report of 10 June 2010 to the UN Security Council.


65.28 The Commission reports, which we now clear, and the Minister's comments speak for themselves. Concerning the wider lessons of the experience with Bulgaria and Romania's accession, the Committee shares its predecessor's standpoint.

65.29 The Committee is thus reassured by what the Minister has to say in his letter, though it notes his emphasis on the word "full" in the paragraph cited concerning the closing benchmark on cooperation with ICTY. This could plainly be open to a number of interpretations, and be influenced by political considerations. We should accordingly be grateful if, when he provides the next update, the Minister would expand on this, and say, in judging what constitutes "full" cooperation, to what extent the Council will depend upon the assessment in this regard of the ICTY Chief Prosecutor.

284   For details, see previous Reports enumerated in the headnote to this chapter. Back

285   Commission Decision 2006/929/EC of 13 December 2006 establishing a mechanism for cooperation and verification of progress in Bulgaria and Romania to address specific benchmarks in the areas of judicial reform and the fight against corruption and organised crime (OJ L 354, 14.12.2006, p. 56 and 58; see and Back

286   Stg Co Deb, European Standing Committee, 15 January 2007, cols. 3-28. Back

287   See HC 5-xviii (2009-10), chapter 7 (7 April 2010). Back

288   See headnote: (30828) and (30829); 12386/09 and 12388/09: HC 19-xxvi (2008-09), chapter 22 (10 September 2010). Back

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