February 21, 2018
The website POLITICO reports that the Slovenian government is considering taking action against Croatia based on Article 259 of the Lisbon Treaty, thus taking the border dispute to the Court of Justice of the European Union. The move would assert that by ignoring the 2017 ruling by The Hague on border issues, Croatia is now in violation of its EU treaty obligations.
At the same time, Slovenia aims to deal with the dispute in the Bay of Piran more directly by charging that Croatia is now engaging in illegal fishing in Slovene waters, in violation of the EU Common Fisheries Policy with regard to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. If Croatia is found to have violated this policy then it could be forced to return between 5 and 50% of the 252.6 million EUR it received from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.
The Croatian government continues to assert that, under the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas, it is entitled to 50% of the Bay of Piran, and not the 20% The Hague has assigned it. Moreover, Zagreb seems anxious to prevent the issue rising up the international agenda, with POLITICO quoting Prime Minister Andrej Plenković as saying in an interview last week: “We hope that the solution can be found and the situation de-dramatized because it’s not a major issue and because that should never have never been moved from a state-to-state level.” Mr Plenković put the dispute in the context of other hangovers from the recent past, noting that “There are still residual issues from the ’90s [in the former Yugoslavia], such as the missing persons, such as border issues, the return of cultural goods, war reparations.”