(VOVworld) – Croatia has become the EU’s 28th member 10 years after first applying and after 7 years of great efforts to meet the bloc’s requirements. This is an important landmark in Croatia’s development but it poses a number of challenges for the Balkan country. Hong Van reports:
Croatia has undergone 7 years of reform to meet the EU’s requirements on renovations to boost economic growth, revive the labor market, control inflation, fight organized crime, and cooperate with the International Tribunal to try war criminals under the former Czech and Slovakia regime. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso congratulated Croatia and said its accession to the EU will bring about a brighter future. Croatia’s President Ivo Josipovic described the event as historic. Croatia’s EU membership will earn the country’s 4.4 million people nearly 12 trillion Euros worth of aid, plus increased revenues from tourism. At a parliamentary session last week, Croatia’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic admitted that Croatia’s entering the EU opens a new world for its people. Last year Milanovic told the Croatian people that although the EU was facing an economic downturn, Croatia had no better choice than to join the group.
Unlike Croatia’s leaders, the people there have not been worried about EU membership. Opinion polls in 2003 showed that 80% wanted Croatia to join the EU. 9 years later the figure was down to 67% because during the negotiation process, Croatia has had to fulfill many difficult conditions in the context of a public debt crisis and an economic recession. Some have feared that prices would rise and Croatian workers would become a cheap labor force.
Analysts have predicted that Croatia will not benefit from its entry into the EU in the short term. Croatia has been seriously affected by an economic crisis over the last 5 years. Its unemployment rate reached a record high of 21% and its GDP per capita was 39% lower than the EU’s average. Germany’s Bild daily newspaper has warned that the newest EU member might become the next Greece. After joining the EU, Croatia’s goods will be subject to EU standards and regulations. Unsuccessful state-owned companies, particularly those in the banking and electricity sectors, will have to be restructured to increase their competitiveness.
As one of the poorest countries in the EU, Croatia will certainly benefit from membership but at the same time it will face challenges given the current economic climate in Europe.