Still, the Commission is worried that government turmoil could reduce the capacity for reform implementation.
The European Commission will assess the reform agenda of the Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković’s government as sufficiently ambitious and promising and will reduce the number of economic recommendations for Croatia, reports Večernji List on May 13, 2016.
President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and his colleagues discussed several days ago national reform programmes of all 28 EU member states, in preparation for next week when they will adopt specific economic recommendations for each country. According to sources, Croatia was assessed as a country which this year will not be highlighted in the recommendations as a potential problem, because the National Reform Programme, as well as the deficit indicators, look rather good.
“The numbers look better than we expected. And the reform programme is quite ambitious. Of course, the key is the implementation of the programme”, said an informed source in the EU, adding that Croatia would get fewer economic recommendations than last year, when there were six such recommendations. A year earlier, in 2014, Croatia received eight recommendations. However, the decreasing trend in the number of recommendations and increasing focus on the most important reforms have been visible for a while and have nothing to do with the fact that there is a new government this year.
The Commission, according to sources, is ready to welcome the level of ambition of the reforms announced by the new government, but will continue to strictly monitor the implementation of these reforms through regular supervision missions travelling from Brussels to Zagreb. The Commission is aware of the fact that the government has proposed a more ambitious reform agenda than last year and the year before, but “on the other hand, there is a certain caution because of the lack of credibility” which all Croatian governments tend to show in cases when the difference between what is promised and what is fulfilled is clearly visible.
While unofficial sources speak of Croatia in positive terms, they do admit that the Commission could change its tone about the economic supervision of Croatia “if there are no reforms being implemented by the autumn”. Nobody in the European Commission wanted to comment on the turmoil in the ruling coalition, but experts within the Commission who are following the events in Croatia are aware that the problems in the coalition could reduce the reform capacity of the Prime Minister Orešković’s government.