War crimes trials and improving the judiciary are among the important issues that Croatia must continue to work on, says a draft a forthcoming report by the European Commission, the Croatian media reported.
The European Commission, EC, is due to adopt and publish an overall monitoring report on Croatia’s accession preparations, on Wednesday next week.
The report covers the period between October 2011 and September 2012. One further report will be issued in the spring of next year, before the country officially joins the EU on July 1.
Post-negotiation monitoring reports form part of a package of obligations that Croatia accepted during its negotiations with the EU.
The Croatian media, which had obtained a draft copy of the report, stated on Thursday that EC’s assessment of the country is that "Croatia has generally delivered on the obligations it took on as part of the EU negotiations", but that in some areas "efforts had to be intensified" before the country could be deemed completely ready for EU membership on July 1, 2013.
Progress with so-called "Chapter 23" of the EU negotiations process, which concerns the judiciary and basic legal rights, is given particular attention in the report.
War crimes trials had to be continued and "additional progress" is needed in enhancing both the judiciary and public administration systems.
The report allegedly praises the Croatian Justice Minister, Orsat Miljenic, for having successfully implemented the required judicial reforms without directly interfering in the court system. However, the huge backlog of unresolved court cases remains a significant issue for Croatia.
"There are no surprises in the report. Perhaps we thought it was going to be a little bit more positive than it is, but everything is proceeding according to the plan. Croatia obviously needs a little more time to fulfil its pre-membership obligations completely," an unnamed high EU official told Jutarnji List, a Croatian daily newspaper.
A similarly pragmatic message was delivered by the Croatian government.
"We've been slower with some things, and faster delivering on others, but there are no problems and everything will be ready on time," an unnamed Croatian official told the Croatian newspaper, Vecernji list.