The European Union has abandoned its efforts to mediate in the border dispute between Slovenia and candidate country Croatia. Olli Rehn, the European commissioner for enlargement who had led the effort, said on Tuesday (23 June) that after six months of intensive work it was now “up to the two neighbouring countries to talk to each other and find a solution”. The day before, Carl Bildt, Sweden’s foreign minister, told reporters in Brussels that “now is a time for reflection in both countries”. “Do we intend to do anything?” he said. “The answer is no.” Sweden takes over the EU’s rotating presidency from the Czech Republic next week (1 July). The dispute has held up membership negotiations with Croatia. Rehn intervened earlier this year in a bid to keep alive the accession talks. A final round of talks between Samuel Žbogar, Slovenia’s foreign minister, and his Croatian counterpart, Gordan Jandrokovic´, ended in failure last Thursday (18 June). Although the two countries’ prime ministers – Ivo Sanader of Croatia and Borut Pahor of Slovenia – were both in Brussels the same day, they did not meet. Hopes dashed Ambassadors of EU member states decided yesterday (24 June) to cancel an accession conference with Croatia scheduled for tomorrow. This means that no negotiation chapters have been opened or closed under the Czech presidency. Slovenia has been blocking Croatia’s membership negotiations with the EU since December, dashing Croatian hopes that the talks could be completed this year. Croatia could still enter the EU in 2011, but that prospect is receding by the week. Rehn had proposed a compromise solution between Slovenia’s preferred course of action, border negotiations led by the EU, and Croatia’s preference for arbitration by the International Court of Justice in The Hague. His proposals did not deal with the substance of the dispute – the exact location of land and sea borders between the two former Yugoslav republics – but with the mechanism used to address it. Rehn’s latest compromise proposal was never made public but reportedly foresaw an ad-hoc arbitration panel with judges nominated by both sides, as well as by the Commission. Croatia accepted the proposal, but Slovenia insisted on amendments that in turn were unacceptable to Croatia.