16th-17th May 2011: State of play of the accession negotiations, in the presence of representatives of the Commission, the (Hungarian) Presidency of the Council and the Croatian Government
"It was said at the beginning of item 3 of the agenda that 'the goal of accession to the EU is accepted by everybody in Croatia'. I would say that (according to the latest opinion poll) everybody in Croatia accepts that goal except for the 73% of the population who are opposed to EU entry (29%), think that the advantages and disadvantages are evenly balanced (41%) or say that they do not know (3%). That (27%) is not quite everybody!
"I hope that this is not a foretaste of the accuracy of statements that will be made during the referendum campaign.
"With regard to (negotiations relating to) the question of judicial independence in Croatia, I believe that Croatia has been treated most unfairly by the EU. Not all of the existing member states of the EU have had independence of judicial appointment for very long. The United Kingdom established the Judicial Appointments Commission only in 2006. Before that, judges were appointed by a party politician, the Lord Chancellor, albeit on the advice of an informal 'judicial appointments group'. However, I believe that the greatest guarantee of judicial independence is to be found in the difficulty in the process of dismissing judges.
"When it comes to judicial independence in practice, judges in the vast majority of cases in the United Kingdom are independent, fair and conscientious but then the vast majority of cases are not political. In politically sensitive cases, such as judicial inquiries into the Iraq War or into the death of the scientist Dr. David Kelly, their decisions are much more questionable.
"With regard to the war crimes cases at the International Criminal Court at the Hague, I have the feeling that your generals were thrown to the wolves to secure EU entry and were not treated fairly by the court in the Hague. It was established, quite rightly, at Nuremburg, after the Second World War, that following orders was not a defence. However, it now seems that never having given an order is not a defence either."