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Van der Brande pledges concrete support for Croatia's EU membership bid

ZAGREB, July 8 (Hina) - Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader on Tuesday received the Committee of the Regions President Van den Brande, for talks on Croatia's European Union membership prospects.

During the Zagreb talks Van den Brande "pledged concrete backing for Croatia"s future membership of the EU and urged the country to continue with the 'excellent progress' it has made since opening its accession negotiations," reads a press release issued by the Committee of the Regions (CoR).

The Committee's head expressed also his hope that "Croatia would stay on track with the reforms linked to its membership bid and would not be discouraged by Ireland"s rejection of the Lisbon Treaty."

"Accession will happen. This is the common will of the EU. The question is not if, but when Croatia joins the Union. I am confident that the French Presidency of the EU will find appropriate solutions to ensure that entry takes place sooner rather than later. You can count on the concrete support of the Committee of the Regions," he was quoted as telling to Croatia's Sanader.

During his visit to Croatia, Van der Brande also met with other Croatian officials and parliamentarians.

On that occasion, he also "urged Croatia"s local and regional authorities to play an active role in the CoR"s three most important networks: the Lisbon Monitoring Platform, which promotes stronger local and regional input in the EU Lisbon Strategy for jobs and growth; the Subsidiarity Monitoring Network, a legislative watchdog aimed at ensuring the EU delivers added value and does not intervene on issues best left to national or regional decision-makers; and the new European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation, a legal instrument which makes it easier for EU and non-EU members and regions to deliver joint cross-border, transnational or interregional projects."