Despite strong opposition from the European Union, Croatia activated its special Ecological and Fisheries Protection Zone (ZERP) in the Adriatic Sea on 1 January 2008. The EU's Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn warned earlier that such a move could have "negative consequences for the country's EU accession process". Slovenia, an EU member state which is directly affected, alongside Italy, by Zagreb's new ecological and fisheries regulation, made clear at the beginning of December that in retaliation it might block five to six chapters out of the 35 into which Croatia's accession negotiations are divided. Slovenia, which took over the six-month rotating EU presidency from Portugal on 1 January, has been irked by the fact that Croatia proclaimed its zone unilaterally, without consultations with Ljubljana.

In a statement on 30 December, Rehn called on Croatia to find a solution to this issue as soon as a new government had been formed. It...

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