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European Law Monitor newsFifth meeting of the accession conference at ministerial level with Croatia

The fifth meeting of the Accession Conference with Croatia at ministerial level was held on 12 October in Brussels, following the start of accession negotiations on 3 October 2005. The Portuguese Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mr João Gomes Cravinho, led the European Union's delegation. The Croatian delegation was led by Ms Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration.

The aim of the Conference was to open negotiations on two further new chapters (all with closing benchmarks), namely: Chapter 28 - Consumer and Health Protection and Chapter 30 - External Relations, and discuss Croatia's preparations for membership.

For the two chapters which were opened today, and on the basis of negotiating positions, the Union has closely examined Croatia's general state of preparedness in the two areas. Taking into account Croatia's present state of preparations - and on the understanding that Croatia will continue to make progress in the alignment with and implementation of the acquis - the EU underlined main issues regarding the closing benchmarks to be met by Croatia, namely:

Chapter 28 - Consumer and Health Protection

       * Croatia will have to amend the General Product Safety Act and adopt a new Consumer Protection Act in order to further align its legislation in the field of consumer protection with the acquis.
       * Croatia will have to adopt the legislation aiming at transposing the Commission implementing directives in the area of technical requirements for blood and blood components, traceability requirements and notification of serious adverse reactions and events and of a quality system for blood establishments.
       * Croatia will have to adopt legislation aiming at transposing the acquis on tissues and cells, especially with regard to reproductive cells and reporting of serious adverse events and reactions.
       * For all the aforementioned legislation Croatia will need to demonstrate that it will have the adequate administrative capacity to properly implement and enforce it by the time of accession.
       * Finally, Croatia will have to achieve substantial progress in transposing the EC tobacco control acquis particularly as regards health warnings, ban on misleading product descriptions, ingredients reporting, tobacco sponsorship and tobacco advertising in the information society services.

Chapter 30 - External Relations

       * Croatia has to present an action plan for its remaining preparations in terms of legislation and bringing international agreements into conformity with the acquis, demonstrating that it will have the adequate administrative and control capacity to properly implement and enforce this legislation, especially in the field of export controls for dual-use items and technology, by the time of accession.

In more general terms, the EU underlined that it would devote particular attention to monitoring all specific issues mentioned in its common positions with a view to ensuring Croatia's administrative capacity, its capacity to implement international standards and EU best practices. The Union will closely monitor Croatia's progress in all these chapters throughout the negotiations.

Since the start of the negotiations, fourteen chapters have been opened, of which two have been provisionally closed. The Presidency of the Council plans to hold another Accession Conference with Croatia by the end of the year, by which time more than half of all the negotiating chapters should have been opened.

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