The Great Debate UK

from Global News Journal:

Croatia must read European Union signals carefully

The European Commission told Croatia this week that its negotiations to join the European Union have reached their "final" stage. Sounds promising, considering how reluctant many EU governments are to admit any new members at a time when the bloc is coping with financial difficulties.

But there was another, more subtle message in the text of the Commission's annual progress report on EU hopefuls. And it read quite  differently.

In fact, the EU executive told Croatia it will have to be more convincing than the most recent countries allowed in -- Romania and Bulgaria -- that its democratic reforms are working.

Admitting Romania and Bulgaria, two poor Balkan states, to the EU in 2007 is seen by many EU diplomats as a mistake. Both had to  conduct deep-reaching judicial reforms to prove their ability to deal with pervasive corruption to qualify for entry. Because the last-minute reforms had shown little effect by the time the countries were admitted, Brussels introduced a "monitoring" mechanism to check up on judicial progress.