Review Marija Avramovic
Croatia last year entered the European Union, but after a whole year in a recession the country is still looking for a path to economic recovery, which will not be an easy task, the BBC reported today.
The festive moment did not last long since a period of adjustment was always to be expected, especially considering Croatia’s hectic recent history.
Over the past month, analysts have been mentioning the possibility of Brussels and the International Monetary Fund offering an economic aid programme, but that would depend on Croatia making big cuts to public spending and boosting new businesses.
The first issue is not quite possible because reducing government spending, according to BBC, is politically dangerous a year before the expected general election.
However, the deputy Foreign and European Integration minister Hrvoje Marusic tries to see the positive side and among the benefits achieved so far he points out to the exports to EU member states, which has increased in the first year of Croatia’s membership by 15%.
“We have finally become a part of the single market, with all its freedoms”, Marusic said for BBC.
But those freedoms come with big responsibilities as Croatia now has to conform to the harsh demands of the economic policy co-ordination programme, known as the European Semester.
The president of the local branch of the European Movement, Natasa Owens, says the gap between ideal and reality has been hard for some people to take.
“My expectations were met, because I think I was quite aware about what to expect”, she noted, emphasizing that, on the contrary, lots of citizens had the wrong idea and the wrong expectations.
“They were just viewing the EU as a big bank that would help us without us doing our own job”, Owens concluded.
“We need to find a balance between heavy budgetary discipline, savings and growth. In the past, economic policies were quite irresponsible. Semester, however, is a very good instrument to increase discipline”, Marusic admitted.
“But to make a success of its EU membership, this small country is going to need outside help – even if that does not go as far as a bailout”, as BBC’s reporter has well put it.