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Delay in setting up monitoring mechanism for Croatian border management regrettable, says Ombudsman

An Ombudsman inquiry has identified significant shortcomings related to how the Commission monitors respect for fundamental rights by the Croatian authorities in border management operations supported by EU funds.

The Ombudsman said it was regrettable that a monitoring mechanism meant to ensure that border management measures by the Croatian authorities fully comply with fundamental rights was only set up in 2021, three years after Croatia started receiving emergency EU funds. The inquiry also found that the Commission created confusion by the way it communicated about the monitoring mechanism.

In closing the inquiry, the Ombudsman suggested a number of improvements to the Commission. These include that the Commission should provide up-to-date information on how the monitoring mechanism is working in Croatia and whether it is independent and effective. The Commission should also ask for concrete information from the Croatian authorities on how it has investigated reports of mistreatment of migrants and asylum seekers. The Ombudsman asked the Commission  to report back within a year on the steps it has taken to strengthen fundamental rights compliance in Croatian border operations receiving EU funds.