Slovenia Veto Sets Dangerous EU Precedent

Slovenia Veto Sets Dangerous EU Precedent

Slovenia's decision to effectively block Croatia's entry to the E.U. on the basis of an unresolved border dispute represents a dangerous precedent that, if copied, could damage or destroy the chances of other accession hopefuls in southeast Europe. Because of the Slovenian veto in late December, Croatia was able to open only one new "chapter" -- representing a policy area in which it must prove that it meets EU norms -- out of an expected 10, and close three, instead of the five foreseen, in the latest round of its ongoing accession negotiations.

It is not the first time an EU member has stood in the way of a neighbor's Western integration plans. Greece, for instance, has doggedly blocked Macedonia's attempts to join the EU and NATO, arguing that accepting a country with a name shared by one of its own regions might lead to territorial claims. It is not even the first time that Slovenia has blocked Croatian EU membership. It previously did so five months after itself joining the EU in 2004, when Croatian police detained a Slovenian politician who had failed to show his identity card in Croatian-controlled territory as a campaign stunt.

But unlike the previous instances, where the start of negotiations was blocked because of what might seem like trifles to the wider world, Slovenia introduced the minor territorial dispute as a bargaining tool after the negotiation process was already under way. The tactic threatens to complicate future integration of southeast Europe into Western institutions, as the region offers no shortage of opportunities for future applications.

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