EC initiates procedure for EAW law sanctions to Croatia

By bne IntelliNews September 19, 2013

The European Commission said on Sep 18 it is launching the so-called Article 39* procedure on Croatia because of the Adriatic country’s failure to align its legislation with the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) law.

The Commission is thus moving towards activating the justice and home affairs safeguard clause in Croatia's Accession Treaty to take appropriate measures that include enhanced monitoring and the suspension of the Schengen Facility, it said in a statement. The Schengen facility includes funding  earmarked to help prepare Croatia's Schengen accession. It aims to support the implementation of the Schengen acquis in the new EU member. 

The Commission has started consultation with member states on the proposed action against Croatia and member states have ten working days to provide comments.

In late June (just before joining the EU) Croatia passed a law, dubbed Lex Perkovic, limiting the application of the EAW to crimes committed after August 2002 - thus allowing high profile political criminals linked to the Yugoslav wars to escape prosecution.

In response, EC Vice President Viviane Reding sent a letter asking the Croatian authorities to amend the law by Aug 23. After no action was taken on the part of the Croatian government, Reding threatened with punitive actions from the Commission.

The EC underlined on Sep 18 that it has been a commitment of Croatia during the accession talks to bring back its legislation with the EU-acquis.

"Whilst Croatia has offered to return its law to legality it set as a condition its entry into force on 15 July 2014. This long delay is unjustified. In June 2013 it had taken Croatia only a few days - just three days prior to Croatia's EU accession – to change its legislation in a manner which contradicts the European Arrest Warrant. Returning it back to conformity should not take longer," the Commission said.

*Article 39 of Croatia’s Accession Treaty states that if there are serious shortcomings in Croatia’s transposition or state implementation of (binding) acts adopted by EU institutions, the Commission may take appropriate measures in response. This option is available for up to 3 years after Croatia’s accession. 

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