Croatia’s first year in EU – Slow progress, but on the right path

Croatia’s first year in EU – Slow progress, but on the right path

 

By Marija Avramovic – Zagreb

On the occasion of the first year of Croatian membership in the EU one could hear different opinions from different sides, but they all agree on one thing – Croatia is a little better since it became a Member State.

Croatia has benefited from its one year membership in the European Union, and will do so even more only if it is ready to change, said Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic talking to Croatian news agency Hina on the occasion of the first anniversary of membership in the Union.

“Joining the EU has been the Croatian strategic objective; our country has benefited from it, but it is also important within the EU to keep the statehood of Croatia so that it would not  be decided elsewhere. So even in the case of common European policy, the government will always put the Croatian interests first”, said the Prime Minister.

“Thus is the case of a joint energy policy: we will not be held hostage to the US-Russian competition for influence over energy developments in Europe, but we will take advantage of its position so as to ensure greater energy independence”, he added.

Milanovic is unhappy with the economic situation in Croatia and the high unemployment rate and accepted the responsibility of the government for both, pointing out that on the way of growth of the economy and tackling of employment they need, not only the patience of citizens, but also their support. As an indicator that the path Croatia follows is correct he pointed to figures, such as the industrial production growth five months in a row and the drop in unemployed compared to the same period last year.

“Croatia joining the EU opened opportunities to progress and the first year of membership confirmed that the progress depends on ourselves, but it was not realistic to expect that the ‘step by seven miles’ will immediately be realized”, said Croatian President Ivo Josipovic in an interview with Hina to mark the anniversary of the membership.

Josipovic emphasized that Croatia’s membership in the EU has made a historic breakthrough in its relation with their neighbors, and “in the possibilities to help make this part of Europe once and for all stabilized in every sense, in safety and economic”.

He concluded that for Croatia, which is still in crisis, the most important thing is to gain access to more money from EU funds, because “it can be a decisive stimulus for economic recovery and an impetus for employment”.

He stressed that it is essential that Croatia continues to reform the judiciary system and the local governments, and make its administrative apparatus more efficient.

Croatian portal Index spoke with several “ordinary” people on the occasion of the first year in the EU and almost everyone had a negative attitude and said that nothing has changed for the better. Some positive developments are the opportunity for cheaper roaming rates and crossing the border only with an identity card. As far as other things, such as improving living standards, they agree that absolutely nothing has changed, while some argue that we are even worse than before. These people hold the government accountable for this state which, they say is not capable of running the country.