Launch of the ELI Croatian Hub


The seventh regional Hub of ELI was launched on 26 September 2014, immediately following the Projects Conference and General Assembly in Zagreb.

The Croatian Hub launch was hosted by European Commission Representation in the Republic of Croatia, and a welcome was provided by its head, Branko Baričević. The event’s attendees ranged from well-known professors and judges to attorneys and law students. Baričević expressed his gratitude that Croatia’s legal community will now have a meeting point to discuss and perhaps influence the development of law in Europe. Furthermore, he offered to host the Hub’s upcoming events not only in Zagreb but also in other Croatian cities.

The welcome address was followed by an ELI presentation delivered by then President Diana Wallis. The presentation focused on the importance of ELI for the development of European law and outlined the challenges of the upcoming legislative period (2014–2019) at European level. She pointed out that the European legislature will need help and ELI has already demonstrated that it can and will help to shape new laws.

President Wallis’ speech was followed by a panel discussion on 'The Croatian Legal System and Judiciary One Year After Accession to the EU'. The panel included some of Croatia’s most influential lawyers and was moderated by Tatjana Josipović (Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Zagreb).

Jasna Omejec (now former President of the Constitutional Court) and Branko Hrvatin (now former President of the Supreme Court) focused on the changes that EU accession has brought to the judicial system in Croatia. President Omejec and President Hrvatin both emphasised that the large number of new laws and regulations present a challenge to the judicial system; a challenge which can only be overcome by extensive training of judges at all levels.

Jakša Barbić (Vice-President of the Sciences and Arts), underlined the issue of imprecise translation of European provisions into Croatian. This is in part due to the use of English versions of the new provisions as the source texts for translation. In his view this was the wrong approach; the German legal system and its concepts are more similar to the Croatian legal system and therefore translations from German into Croatian would have been more suitable. To illustrate the point, Barbić mentioned the case where an interpreter translated 'Supreme Court' as 'vrhunsko igralište', a phrase which in Croatian can only be understood as 'great playing field' and not as the country’s highest court.

Zoran Vukić (then Vice-President of the Bar Association) and Denis Krajcar (then President of the Committee for International Cooperation of the Notaries Chamber), contributed to the discussion with an analysis of the EU’s free movement rights of professionals. These free movement rights are tremendously interesting for Croatia’s legal community as they enable foreign lawyers to practice law in Croatia, something which has never before been possible.

The event provided a rare chance to review and consider the challenges that Croatia’s legal system is facing after EU accession, and it is hoped that future events of the Croatian Hub will continue to provide a platform for such discussions.