Now that uncertainty over the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon is no longer an issue, some countries are likely to draw closer to the EU during the first half of 2010. The Council is expected to decide by June on the opening of Iceland's membership talks, once the Commission has issued its opinion. With Iceland already applying three-quarters of EU legislation owing to its membership of the European Free Trade Area and the Schengen Area, the negotiations will proceed quickly and accession should be possible by 2012 or 2013 if the Icelanders are still interested.

The general situation in the Balkans is set to be closely followed by the European Council. Croatia is closest to the EU and is "now in the final phase of membership negotiations", according to the conclusions of the General Affairs Council on 7 December.

Zagreb still has to make "significant improvements" in the judiciary, the public administration and the fight against corruption, however. In fact, although Zagreb hopes to conclude the talks in the first half of 2010, the latter half of the year seems a more realistic timeframe. Cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) is "generally good", but the Council regrets that the ICTY Prosecutor "has not yet been able to report substantial progress" on the request for certain key military documents that could be used in the trial in The Hague of three former Croatian generals, Ante Gotovina, Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac. The United Kingdom and the Netherlands make this issue a pre-condition for opening the judicial and fundamental rights chapter. In parallel, the Council will begin drafting Zagreb's accession treaty. Croatia hopes to become the 28th member state in 2012.


For Turkey, the progress of its membership talks will depend on whether or not a deal on the reunification of Cyprus can be sealed in the coming months after 35 years of partition. The talks between Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have to conclude soon because Talat could well lose the elections in April to a more intransigent leader. Several diplomats therefore believe that these are the "last-chance negotiations" for some time to come.

In its conclusions, the Council notes that Turkey's contribution to a settlement of this conflict is "crucial" given its military presence and influence in the northern part of the island. In the...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT