Croatia: the State number twenty-eight

  • 20 July 2013

On the 1st of July Croatia become the twenty-eighth European Union Member State. In the EU, this is the second country, after Slovenia, came from the former Yugoslavia. But, differently from Slovenia, in Croatia the bloody war for independence from Belgrade was fought on its territory, that war, in the ‘90s, caused over twenty thousand deaths and hundreds of thousands of refugees.

The celebrations for the accession of Croatia to the European Union had not the typical euphoria that had marked the previous enlargement to Eastern Europe.

The Croatian economic situation, in fact, is not optimistic. Youth unemployment, at 51%, is the third in Europe, after Greece (59%) and Spain (55%) and it’s much higher than the European average of 23%. Because of this situation, Croatia will be the first EU to adopt a series of measures, co-financed by Brussels and approved by the European Council, to help young people to find a job, even precarious, and to avoid a migration to countries when they can work without any special permission. United Kingdom, Austria, Slovenia, Spain, Belgium, Holland and Germany, imposed a Croatian workers moratorium of two years. Professionals with degrees and workers seasonal are excluded by this moratorium, admitted by the Accession Treaty.

The reactions to the extension of the European Union are positive: the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso said «Croatia can be an example for other countries in the Balkan region, because this Country undertook difficult reforms, endeavouring at the same time for reconciliation between the peoples of the former Yugoslavia».

However, the European Commission made bad economic predictions for the new member: a further contraction in GDP by 1% this year and a slight, almost imperceptible, recovery (0.2%) in 2014. More worrying are public expenditure data, which, despite a policy of austerity and strict fiscal discipline, continues to weigh too much: public debt is at 54% and the deficit at 4.7%.

Tourism is the stronger sector of the Croatian economy: it produces one-fifth of GDP, its revenues continue to grow (+ 3% per year) and investment in new touristic facilities have not stopped even with the recession.

In 2012 Croatia has 11.8 million visitors: 5% per cent more than the 10 million of previous year.

The data for 2013 are optimist: from January to April there was an increase in turnover of 10.2% compared to the same period of 2012.

The European Union membership could attract new investment, promoting Croatia as a safe and quality destination, and facilitating European tourists’ movement and shopping.

There is, however, a negative effect: Zagreb, in accordance with European Directives, must introduce visas to enter in the country to non-EU citizens, reducing tourists from Russia, Ukraine and Turkey.