Croatia Unsure How to Vote on Possible EU Sanctions against Poland

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After abstaining at the United Nations, Croatia might decide against the formulation of a position.

After additional consultations, Croatia will formulate its position on Poland, which has been threatened by the European Commission with the activation of the so-called Article 7, which could ultimately lead to the suspension of EU voting rights, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday, reports Večernji List on December 22, 2017.

On Wednesday, the European Commission proposed the initiation of the procedure provided for in Article 7 against Poland to the Council of the EU, which could ultimately lead to the suspension of voting rights. The launch of the procedure provided for in Article 7 has never been used, and the Commission has decided to do so after the Polish authorities failed to give up on controversial judicial reforms which Brussels claims pose a threat to democracy.

“Croatia will, after consultations, articulate its position, but for now, no one in the EU has announced their position particularly strongly,” said Plenković after a party meeting on Thursday. He added that the government should be cautious because something like this hasn’t happened in the European Union to date. “This issue has not yet come to the agenda of the Council at this point. It requires very careful attitudes from all members,” said Plenković.

“We will, first of all, see what will the effect of this message which has been sent by the European Commission’s college of commissioners yesterday will be. We want to find a solution in dialogue between the European Commission and Poland and for Poland to be at the level of other EU member states when it comes to the rule of law and respect for all the relevant criteria,” said the Croatian Prime Minister.

On Wednesday, the Commission said that it was ready to withdraw its proposal if Poland were to remove grounds for concern within three months, but the first indications do not support this option since the Polish President Andrzej Duda immediately signed the two controversial laws on Wednesday.

Over the past two years, Poland has adopted 13 legislative acts which, according to the Commission, systematically allow the executive authorities to be politically involved in the composition, jurisdiction, management and functioning of the judicial branch. The procedure provided for in Article 7 is the most radical move that can be taken against a country for violating European rules. The article can ultimately lead to the revocation of the right to vote, although this is quite improbable, given that the consent of all other member states is required in one phase of the procedure. Hungary has already announced it would vote against it.

Croatia’s traditional “we don’t have a position” position is unsurprising, given that the country is often unsure what to do when it comes to its foreign policy, despite the fact that the President and the Prime Minister are two supposedly “brilliant” former diplomats and foreign affairs experts. On Thursday, Croatia broke with most other EU members and abstained in a voting at the United Nations General Assembly about a resolution condemning US President Donald Trump’s decision to move US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.


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