zdravko marić.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Damir SENČAR /ds

Finance Minister Zdravko Maric would not speculate on Tuesday about a European Commission decision on the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure which the Commission will adopt later today.

Asked by reporters if he expected corrective measures for Croatia, Maric said he would not comment until the Commission did its job and the decision was made public.

Maric was in Brussels to attend a meeting of European Union finance ministers.

About ten days ago, the Commission published a report on economic and social challenges in the EU member states and the findings of in-depth reviews in 18 countries, including Croatia. The Commission is expected to publish its conclusions and assessments today.

This year member states will be divided into four and not six groups as in 2015. The first group will include countries without macroeconomic imbalances, the second group will cover those with macroeconomic imbalances, the third those with excessive imbalances, and the fourth those with excessive imbalances which require corrective measures.

Last year, Croatia was in the fifth category, the last before corrective action. It was announced then that Croatia might enter the six category, the one with corrective action, if the Commission found that the national reform programme did not guarantee that the imbalances would be corrected.

Corrective action has not been launched against any member state yet. If it is launched, the country in question is asked to draw up a corrective action plan, which is evaluated by the Commission. If the Commission is not satisfied with it, it demands a second plan. If the second plan too is rejected, euro area countries may be penalised with up to 0.1 percent of GDP, while other member states face a suspension of European funds.

On the fringes of today's meeting, Maric met with other finance ministers and European commissioners. Among other things, they discussed Croatia's budget for this year, which the government will discuss this week, Croatia's national reform programme and a convergence programme which Croatia must send to the Commission by the end of April.

Maric and Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem signed a memorandum of understanding and technical cooperation between the two countries.

"It's a continuation of the years-long cooperation with the Netherlands and their Finance Ministry. This has been and will continue to be a valuable source of cooperation, not so much in financial matters, although that's not excluded, as in the fact that we are getting from their ministry expertise and a certain know-how which is easily transposed into our system," said Maric.

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