Plenkovic: Schengen area and European Semester crucial for Croatia

Split - In the first months after Croatia's accession to the European Union, its preparations for entry into the passport-free Schengen zone and participation in the European Semester will be crucial, the head of the Croatian Parliament Delegation to the Croatia-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee Andrej Plenković said in the southern coastal city of Split on Tuesday.

- We have discussed two key topics which we consider to be extremely important in the coming months of Croatia's membership in the European Union, and those are preparations and fulfilment of the criteria for entry into the Schengen area and Croatia's participation in the European Semester, Plenković told a press conference after a two-day and last meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Committee. Plenković said that during accession negotiations Croatia had expressed its ambition to have a well organised external border of the European Union so that it could join the passport-free zone two years after joining the bloc. - Today we have been informed by Interior Minister Ranko Ostojić of all the efforts that the government, and in particular the Ministry of the Interior, is taking and intends to take in that regard, Plenković said.

The other important topic discussed was the European Semester, a six-month period during which EU members harmonise their budgetary, macroeconomic and structural policies so that the European Commission could warn the members of a possible crisis in a timely fashion. - That's why we have also discussed the economic programme which the Croatian government adopted on April 18 and sent to the European Commission, because we want members of the Croatian Parliament to be promptly involved in dialogue between Croatia and the Commission, Plenković said.

The head of the European Parliament Delegation to the Joint Parliamentary Committee Gunnar Hökmark, said that Croatia was welcome as the 28th EU member because it has met all the criteria and shown that it can function in the fight against corruption and organised crime. Croatia is a key country in the Western Balkans that gives momentum to the development of this part of Europe, Hokmark said, noting that no economy in Europe can improve without cooperating with other economies.

Commenting on the Joint Parliamentary Committee's visit to the Brodosplit shipyard on Monday, Plenković said that the shipyard's executives had stressed that severance packages would be paid for all 3,500 employees, after which about 2,000 of them would be rehired. Hokmark noted that the most important thing was the statement by Brodosplit's executives that there was no shortage of shipbuilding orders. When asked how he saw the post-accession role of Croatia in the context of institutional disenfranchisement of Croats in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hökmark said that all countries in the region were now in the process of EU integration and would have to pay special attention to the observance of human rights. - The European Union will be very strict in its demands that all countries that aspire to join should comply with the rules of human rights protection, Hökmark said. (Hina)

Autor: Hina