Hope and Commitment of Croatia in the European Union - by Egon C. Heinrich
Hope and Commitment of Croatia in the European Union
by Egon C. Heinrich
With an amazing and very emotional ceremony in Zagreb the Republic of Croatia has joined the European Union as 28th Member State. The presidents of all European Institutions, top politicians from the member states as well as representatives from more than 100 countries attended this event. The inhabitants of Zagreb have shown an enthusiasm for Europe which can rarely be found any more in the other 27 EU countries.
Croatia is one of the smaller member states of EU. The country has a population of 4,5 Million and a geographical area of 56,594 km2. The administration is exerted in 20 counties and by the capital city of Zagreb (in former times the name was Agram). The GDP per capita reached 10,250 Euro in 2012. The foreign trade balance has shown in 2012 a deficit of almost 7 billion Euro.
For those reasons Croatia expects a lot for its economic development as a new EU member state. Until 2020 the country will receive financial subsidies of at least 8 billion Euro from the regional and social funds of the EU. Such financial aids are necessary as the country has to overcome a lot of economic, financial, social and demographic problems. The unemployment rate is around 20 %, and even much higher for young people. Many well educated young people have already left the country by looking for jobs in other European countries or overseas. This “brain drain” worsen the demographic problem. The budget deficit is also by far above the average acceptable within the EU. The Croatian government intends to join the Eurozone in about 5 or 6 years. Before such a step the accession criteria must be strictly respected.
Corruption Remains a Major Problem in the Balkans
A major problem for all countries of the Western Balkans – and they all want to join the EU sooner or later - is still a high degree of corruption. In a recent report Transparency International ( TI) deplores the lack of transparency as to the financing of political parties, especially the financing of their election campaigns. In this respect Croatia “slightly outperforms” its neighbours, but all countries in this region have - as TI states – a long way to go. Governments are asked therefore to enhance their efforts in the fight against corruption. This seems to be a problem, when the governments or the governing political parties are involved themselves in corruption.
In order to promote foreign trade and foreign investments Croatian government and the Croatian Chamber of Economy have taken a lot of initiatives during the accession process. The Chamber of Economy has prepared an exhibition under the title “Be CROative” which shows cases of the best of Croatian creativity. The exhibition has been presented until the 1st of July in Brussels and during the plenary session of the European Parliament the first week of July 2013 in Strasbourg.
We believe in Europe
At the opening of the exhibition in Brussels at the Esplanade de la Solidarité in front of the EP the president of the Croatian Chamber of Economy, Mister Nadan Vidosevic said clearly: “We believe in Europe”. He is convinced that the membership will be very beneficial for his country as well as for the 27 other ones. He is also in favour of the other Western Balkan countries joining the EU. The foreign trade of Croatia with its neighbours has increased by more 300 % within the past 15 years. Relations are becoming better and better. This might be seen as the positive effect of peace in this region - quasi a “peace dividend”.
Mister Vidosevic promotes his county as a “Unique location for your business”. He pointed out that: ” We use this exhibition to proudly present Croatian champions, artists, scientists and innovators, and to show that Croatia also creates products with intelligence and resourcefulness in addition to having top athletes and a beautiful nature”. Indeed the country has a great potential for further development in tourism. It can offer 1246 islands, 61 marinas, 8 national parks ,10 intangible cultural heritage and 7 cultural and natural heritage sites, all included in UNESCO`s heritage list.
Croatia Links Europe to the World
In a brochure we can read the following positives phrases about Croatia: “Croatia is the only country in the world which is Central European, Danubian, Pannonian and Mediterranean at the same time; by its unique geographical location it links Europe to the world. You will probably be surprised when you will discover some of this country’s innovations. Did you know that some everyday things we take for granted such as the necktie, the ballpoint pen, Dalmatian dogs, or even fingerprint identification systems all hail from Croatia? Historical figureheads to the tune of Marco Polo and Nikola Tesla- the unforgettable Adriatic Sea and not to mention Croatia’s endless culinary delicacies come to mind.”