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European standards of minority protection – from conditionality to limitations: the case of Croatia

Written by  Vesna Stanković Pejnović this article appeared on the journal Filozofija i društvo in 2010.
 
The implementations of the minority rights promoted by EU are visible mechanisms for following the said implementation, including regular reports of the European Commission on the rate of progress of the country toward EU that follow the minority problems in the political context of a country. The reports are based upon Copenhagen criteria dealing with the protection of the minorities. Intensive efforts are needed for the implementation of the legal norms of minority rights. 

A number of factors influence the implementation: the confusion surrounding the legal nature of the protection of minority rights, indefinite formulation of the standards and benefits a country would receive by accepting them. In order for all those factors not to contribute to any further lack of definition, EU must equalize and clearly define the standards of the minority rights, convincing the governments that the existence of minority groups enriches the society and that the measures focused on the preservation of their characteristics influence the reduction of the risks of conflicts. Although it is possible to see, in the example of Croatia, that many European norms of minority rights protection have been implemented, from the reports of the European Commission it is possible to see their limitations as well, that is, the failure to implement the laws in practice. The progress reports of the European Commission show that the minority problem is not a priority to EU in accession negotiations.

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