You are visiting the former website of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Croatia.

Following Croatia's accession to the EU, the Delegation closed its doors on 30 June 2013 while a new institution - the European Commission Representation - has opened on 1 July. Please note that the content of this website has not been updated since that date, but it will stay accesible online for a certain period of time.

For updated information please visit European Commission Representation website.

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Croatia and EU - prejudices and realities

In the pre-referendum period, many incorrect statements and interpretations that could not be verified have been circulating the internet. The EU Information Centre has answered these statements on the Facebook page and in emails to the public, in order to provide the correct information and references. Full list of this answers is available here.

 

In the text below you can find answers to the questions about Croatia´s accession to the European Union that Croatian citizens frequently ask.  

1. When will Croatia join the EU?

2. Will Croatia become a Eurozone member immediately after the accession to the European Union?

3. Can Croatia freely withdraw from the EU?

4. Why is it good for Croatia to join the EU and what are its main benefits?

5. What is the Lisbon Treaty?

6. Will Croatia lose its tradition and national identity once it enters the EU?

7. Will Croatia´s real estate and farmlands be sold out to foreigners after the accession?

8. Will Croatia be flooded by imported goods which will destroy domestic production?

9. Will Croatia´s accession to the EU bring into question the country´s agriculture?

10. What will happen with Croatian domestic home products when Croatia joins the EU?

11. Will Croatia pay higher taxes after the accession?

12. Will the standard of Croatian citizens generally improve when the country joins the EU?

13. As Croatia is a small country, essentially it will not have the right to vote in the EU?

14. Will Croatia pay to the EU more than it will be able to withdraw from structural and cohesion funds?

15. The European Union has destroyed Croatia´s shipbuilding industry and jobs.

16. Croatian fishermen will be destroyed when Croatia joins the EU?

17. Slovenian fishermen will be fishing in Croatian waters when Croatia becomes an EU member. 

18. EU citizens cannot influence the political decisions of EU institutions.

19. Will the EU survive the crisis?

20. Will Croatian citizens be able to find jobs in EU institutions?

21. Will the borders between Croatia and the neighbouring member states be abolished when Croatia joins the Union?

 

 

When will Croatia join the EU?
Croatia completed its negotiations on the EU membership in June 2011. The European Council has designated 1 July 2013 as the date of Croatia´s accession to the EU, provided that all the procedures required for full membership are completed by that date.

For Croatia to join the Union on 1 July 2013, all the EU member states must ratify the Treaty of Accession of the Republic of Croatia to the European Union, singed on 9 December 2011 at the European Council session in Brussels. The details of the ratification process and the current situation can be followed via this table. After the positive outcome on the referendum, with 136 "Yes" votes, Croatian Parliament unanimously ratified on 9 March the Accession Treaty of the Republic of Croatia to the European Union. Croatia must also continue to fulfil the obligations accepted during the membership negotiations. The fulfilment of the obligations is being monitored by the European Commission by means of the so-called monitoring mechanism. By coming into force of the Treaty of Accession, Croatia will become a full member of the EU on the designated date, 1 July 2013.

 

Will Croatia become a Eurozone member immediately after the accession to the European Union?

By joining the EU, Croatia will not automatically become a Eurozone member and will thus not automatically introduce the common currency – Euro. In order to become a member of the Eurozone, a country must first meet the so-called Maastricht Criteria that concern stability of prices, sustainability of public finance, stability of exchange rate and level of long-term interest rates.

At the moment, Eurozone has 17 members: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. Every country that joins the EU is obliged to introduce Euro when it meets all the requirements. The only countries which are not obliged to do so are Denmark and the United Kingdom because they had agreed on the exemptions during negotiations, i.e. adoption of the Treaty of Maastricht.

The complete text of the Treaty of Accession and an overview of the results of Croatia´s negotiations with the EU available here.

 

Can Croatia freely withdraw from the EU?
Yes. The Lisbon Treaty that came into force on 1 December 2009 explicitly provides for the possibility of member states to withdraw from the European Union.

 

Why is it good for Croatia to join the EU and what are its main benefits?

The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 member states which enables them to realise their common goals – a balanced economic and social development, high levels of employment and protection of rights and interests of the citizens. Also, members of the European Union share a series of fundamental values like democracy and respect of human rights, peace and solidarity, ban on discrimination and fight against poverty. This is why membership in the EU should not be a goal in itself, but an expression of the country’s orientation toward European values and achievement of these goals.

To become an EU member state, a country has to meet a series of criteria (so-called Copenhagen Criteria). During the accession process these criteria will prepare that country for adoption of European standards in a number of fields – from judiciary and efficiency of public administration to strict standards of food safety and environmental protection. At the end of the process, as is the case with Croatia, measured by a series of criteria, such country is a better service for its citizens and numerous areas are better regulated than in the beginning of the process. For example, in the field of consumers´ protection, as a result of adoption of European standards, Croatian consumers will enjoy equal rights as the EU consumers: it will be possible to return damaged goods within a period of two years, households will be able to pay their overhead expenses based on the exact amount of consumption etc. Also, Croatian citizens will have the same rights as other EU citizens, such as the freedom to live, work and get educated in other EU countries. More information on the rights of EU citizens and effects of the EU accession is available in the publication ´101 Questions about EU Impact on Citizens´ Lives´ and on the Internet pages Your Europe and Europe and You.

Finally, as a result of the EU accession, Croatia will be better positioned and will have a stronger influence in the world and better chances for dealing with the process and consequences of globalisation.

 

What is the Lisbon Treaty?

The Treaty of Lisbon that came into force on 1 December 2009 provides the EU with a legal framework and means necessary for facing current and future challenges and responding to citizens´ requirements. It also ensures that European citizens can have direct impact on European regulations (through the so-called European Citizens´ Initiative) and that their fundamental rights be respected throughout the EU. Namely, the adoption of the Treaty of Lisbon made the Charter on Fundamental Rights legally binding for all the EU members. Also, the EU is better equipped for meeting its citizens´ expectations in power supply, climate changes, cross-border crime and immigration. And, the most important for Croatia, the Treaty enables further enlargement of the EU. The Treaty of Lisbon has also introduced the new function of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, currently carried out by Baroness Catherine Ashton. The goal of the new function is to strengthen the impact, coherence and visibility of the EU foreign affairs. European External Action Service will support and assist the High Representative in her work. The Treaty of Lisbon also introduced the function of President of the European Council, elected for a period of two and a half years. Current president of the European Council is Herman Van Rompuy.

More information on the Treaty of Lisbon can be found in the publication Your Guide to the Lisbon Treaty and on the Internet pages of the European Union.

 

Will Croatia lose its tradition and national identity once it enters the EU?
No. This is one of the most frequent misconceptions connected with Croatia´s accession to the European Union. The fact is that the EU accession will actually help Croatia preserve its identity and cultural diversity because the EU respects the diversity of its member states and promotes the traditions and identity not only of individual countries, but also of regions. Also, by joining the EU, Croatia will come into the focus of interest of the EU member states and will find it easier and simpler to present the wide range of its cultural, gastronomic and other specificities. Finally, Croatian language will become the 24th official language of the European Union, equal by its status to all other official languages of the EU.

 

Will Croatia´s real estate and farmlands be sold out to foreigners after the accession?
Croatia liberalised its real estate market since 2009, thus enabling EU citizens to have equal treatment when buying real estate as Croatian citizens. As regards to private property, like in any other country in the world, it is up to the owner to decide to whom will they sell their property and under what conditions. Besides, Croatian citizens will also be able to buy real estate in other EU member states. As for farmlands, Croatia will be able to limit selling of such land to the citizens of the European Union and European Economic Area during the seven-year period after the accession, with a possibility to extend the period for another three years.

 

Will Croatia be flooded by imported goods which will destroy domestic production?
Croatia has already fully liberalised its trade with the EU countries in terms of industrial products. This means it is not expected that Croatian import from the EU member states will substantially change after its accession to the Union. On the contrary, the increase of export of Croatian goods into the EU could be expected. Namely, the European Union has strict regulations and standards regarding production and trade and provides mechanisms meant to protect domestic production. These standards and mechanisms will apply to Croatia, as well upon the accession. This means on the one hand, that all Croatian producers will be obliged to apply EU standards, which would in return allow more Croatian products to compete at the EU market. On the other hand, application of the same standards would also mean that products imported to Croatia would have to meet the same high standards as in all of the EU. Basically, it means that imported goods will in general be of higher quality than they are now. For example, it will be guaranteed that a washing powder of a certain trade mark bought in Croatia is of the same quality as the same washing powder in France or Greece.

 

Will Croatia´s accession to the EU bring into question the country´s agriculture?
As the most fully integrated of EU policies, the Common Agricultural Policy takes a large share of the EU budget – currently 36%. The EU also stimulates revival of rural areas throughout the EU. Once in the EU, Croatia will, just like other member states, receive agricultural subsidies and will use the funds aimed at rural development.

For more information about what the EU brings to Croatian farmers, read the publication ´The Guide to Common Agricultural Policy: What Will Croatian Farmers Benefit from the EU Accession?´.

 

What will happen with Croatian domestic home products when Croatia joins the EU?
EU will not influence production of domestic home products – like the well-known fresh cheese and cream, home-made sausages, brandies etc. If these products are intended for personal use, there will no restrictions. On the other hand, if some of these products are to be offered at the EU market, then they will have to meet EU sanitary and food safety standards. The example of France, for instance, shows that the French production of fermented cheeses or similar products was never endangered by EU rules and standards. In any case, the EU will insist on improving certain sanitary and therefore enhancing the quality of the domestic products which would enable them to be easier offered at the EU market as well. Food safety has a high priority in the EU; it represents an important aspect and the EU will not take any risks that could result in lower standards in food safety or in any kind of risk for the consumers. However, Croatia will have an opportunity to protect its original products and make them more recognisable by offering them to the EU market.

As for Croatian traditions such as pig-slaughtering, production of salami, smoked ham, bacon, prosciutto and greaves for personal use, they will not be banned as long as they are not offered to the common market. However, the meat intended for selling in markets, butcheries and groceries will have to be from slaughterhouses, which will operate in accordance with the EU regulations on hygiene and animal welfare. The meat intended for food must be tested on infectious diseases and animals must be spared of unnecessary torture.

 

Will Croatia pay higher taxes after the accession?

In principle, taxation policies are set by the member states, only the taxes related to the common market are coordinated on the EU level in order to ensure equal market conditions for all economic subjects across the EU. The taxes that must be coordinated with acquis communautaire are the indirect ones, i.e. value added taxes and excise taxes on energy products, tobacco product s and alcoholic beverages. As regards VAT, the minimum rate for this tax has been set on 15%, although the member states are entitled to introduce one or two lower tax rates of 5%.

After the EU accession, Croatia will have a period of transition, until 31 December 2014, during which construction land will be exempted from VAT. Also, Croatia can keep lower excise rates for cigarettes until the end of 2017 and it can be exempted from registration of VAT payers with the revenue below EUR 35,000. International transport of passengers is also exempted from VAT.

More information on taxes in the EU: http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/taxation/index_en.htm.

 

Will the standard of Croatian citizens generally improve when the country joins the EU?  

Data from EU member states indicate that prior enlargements have brought along a higher growth rate and increased standard of living, not only in new, but also in old member states. The twelve new member states profited from membership the most. On average, the accession process stimulated the economic growth in new member states by 1.75% in the period from 2000 – 2008. Consequently, standard of living in the new member states has grown. In 2008, the average income per capita in the new member states increased to 52% of the income per capita in the old member states, compared to only 40% in 1999. The said growth can be attributed to an increase in accumulated wealth and productivity. Workers also benefited from the enlargement – in the period from 2003 – 2007, some three million new jobs were created and the unemployment rate dropped to around 7% in 2007, which is about the same as the one in the older EU members.

Purchasing power parity for the countries that joined the EU in 2004

Source: Eurostat.

No.

Country:

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

 

European Union 27 countries

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

 

European Union 15 countries

113

113

112

112

111

110

110

1

Cyprus

90

91

91

93

97

98

98

2

Czech Republic

75

76

77

80

81

82

80

3

Estonia

57

62

66

69

68

64

65

4

Latvia

46

49

52

56

56

52

52

5

Lithuania

50

53

55

59

61

55

58

6

Malta

77

79

76

77

79

81

83

7

Hungary

63

63

63

62

65

65

64

8

Poland

51

51

52

54

56

61

62

9

Slovakia

57

60

63

68

72

73

74

10

Slovenia

87

87

88

88

91

88

87

11

Bulgaria

-

-

-

40

44

44

43

12

Romania

-

-

-

42

47

46

45

 

As Croatia is a small country, essentially it will not have the right to vote in the EU?

It is often said that small countries must accept decisions and authority of large EU countries. However, in the Council of Ministers, the institution representing the national interests in the European Union, each country has an impact on decisions on European regulations. Although the number of votes of a particular country in qualified majority voting in the Council is proportional to its population (bigger countries have more votes than smaller ones), smaller countries are in a better position than bigger ones if we take into account number of votes per population size.

Also, the EU Council decision-making rules ensure that the votes of big countries cannot prevail. For certain decision to be adopted with qualified majority, it requires not only 74% of the overall votes in the Council (258 out of 345), but also one half of all the member states which must represent at least 62% of the EU population must vote for it. Thus, regardless of resources and population size, every member state´s vote matters and affects adoption and enforcement of European legislation.

For example, Germany, with its population of 82 million, has 29 votes in the Council (1 vote on almost 2.830,000 people), while Malta, with its population of 416,000, has 3 votes (1 vote on approximately 138,000 people). Croatia will have 7 votes in the Council (1 vote on somewhat more than 628,000 people).

 

Will Croatia pay to the EU more than it will be able to withdraw from structural and cohesion funds?

After EU accession, Croatia will have at its disposal the Cohesion Fund and Structural Funds for the use of which Croatia has started to prepare by using pre-accession funds. In the second half of 2013, the total EU funds approved for Croatia amount to EUR 655.1 million. The most of this amount comes from the Structural Funds and Cohesion Fund (EUR 449.4 million) and European Fisheries Fund (EUR 8.7 million). Croatia will also have at its disposal the so-called Schengen Facility, intended for financing of the measures having to do with EU´s outer border, i.e. for preparation of implementation of Schengen aquis (EUR 40 million). As part of the so-called ´Transitional Facility´, intended for strengthening of administrative and judicial capacity, Croatia will receive EUR 29 million. Also, EUR 75 million from the ´Cash Flow Strengthening Facility´ has been earmarked for Croatia. The funds earmarked for certain agricultural measures, the payment of which is to begin in 2014, can also be added to the overall amount.

Croatia’s contribution to the EU’s 2013 budget will be EUR 211.9 million.

According to a draft multiannual financial framework for the period 2014 -2020 the total funds earmarked for Croatia amount to EU €13.7 billion.

 

The European Union has destroyed Croatia´s shipbuilding industry and jobs.

Competition rules are the basis of market economy, where market operates in the conditions equal for all. European Competition Policy includes both control system and state aid allocation policy because these rules prevent that some entrepreneurs be in a more favourable position in the market than those who do not receive state aid. Under the competition rules, the European Union demands from Croatia to restructure its shipyards in order to secure their financial sustainability without the existing state aid. The European Union is aware that Croatian shipbuilding industry employs 12,000 workers and that it accounts for one eighth of the country´s foreign trade. However, without state aid, the shipyards in Split, Rijeka, Trogir and Kraljevica are not competitive; such operations contribute to Croatia´s foreign debt. It is thus in the interest of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, as it is in the interest of the European Union, to put these shipyards on healthy footing in order for them to become financially viable and competitive on the global market.

 

Croatian fishermen will be ruined when Croatia joins the EU?

Croatian fishermen will not be ruined when Croatia joins the European Union because they will be allowed to fish in accordance with the rules of the European Union and Common Fisheries Policy. When Fisheries chapter was discussed during the negotiation process, Croatia negotiated a few transitional periods in fisheries. The first transitional period lasts until 31 December 2014: it stipulates that small-scale fishing for personal use can be maintained. However, this category will gradually be abolished and the so-called ´small-scale fishermen´ will redirected into economic or recreational fishing, in accordance with the European Union regulations. Another transitional period is the one applicable until 30 June 2014. It is the period during which trawl nets can still be used 1.5 nautical miles off the coast by the vessels fishing along Istrian coast on the depths below 50 meters. Also, during this transitional period, all vessels below 15 meters of length along the entire coast and on the depths of more than 50 meters can keep using trawler nets one nautical mile off the coast. The rate of co-financing of projects on the islands of Mljet, Vis, Dugi Otok and Lastovo in the amount of up to 85% from the European Fisheries Fund has been approved for Croatia.

 

Slovenian fishermen will be fishing in Croatian waters when Croatia becomes an EU member.  

When Croatia becomes a member of the Union, it will also become a member of the Common Fisheries Policy. The policy´s goal is to ensure sustainability of marine catch. This is why this policy is reformed every ten years and is adapted to the changes in fish populations. For Croatia, fishing in border areas will be possible under the Agreement of the Republic of Croatia and the Republic of Slovenia on Local Border Traffic and Cooperation that came into force in 2001. After Croatia´s accession to the EU, Croatia and Slovenia will be able to exercise mutual fishing rights in coastal waters within 12 miles. However, this Agreement will not be applied before the arbitration decision on the border between Croatia and Slovenia is reached.  

 

EU citizens cannot influence the political decisions of EU institutions.

The Treaty of Lisbon has introduced a new form of participation of public in shaping of European public policies, the so-called European Citizens´ Initiative, which enables one million EU citizens from not less than one fourth of EU member states (currently, this means seven states), to make a direct request to the European Commission to propose a legislative initiative under the EU jurisdiction which is relevant for them. Its purpose is to make possible for citizens´ initiatives to truly represent the public opinion in the EU, to make rules of conduct simple and easily understood so that citizens could freely join in and support the initiative, and to make sure that the rules do not become an additional burden for governments of the EU member states and that the collected signatures are authentic.

 

Will the EU survive the crisis?

The European Union rests on economic and social solidarity. It was created to achieve political goals and their achievement has started through economic cooperation. The share of the world population that European countries account for is getting smaller and smaller. This is why they have to keep cooperating closely and join forces if they want to ensure economic growth and compete with other large economies in the world. The global financial crisis of 2008 has caused the sharpest economic drop in the history of the European Union. Governments and institutions of the EU had to react swiftly in order to save banks, and the Union provided financial assistance to the countries worst hit by the crisis. The common currency helped protect Eurozone from speculations and devaluation. Then, in 2010 and 2011, the EU and its member states undertook concerted efforts to reduce their public debt.

The greatest challenge European countries are going to face in the forthcoming period will be to take a joint stand against the global crisis and find a joint solution for dealing with the recession and a road to sustainable development.

 

Will Croatian citizens be able to find jobs in EU institutions? 

Yes. In order to find a job in some of European institutions, candidates must take relevant tests of the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO), active since 2003. Its task is to organise tests for hiring of personnel for all the EU institutions. The EPSO organises testing once a year: for professional staff, legal experts, economists and IT experts in March; for translators in July; and for assistants and secretaries in September. The number of competitions for employment of Croatian citizens were already published.

The EU draft budget for 2013 foresees the employment of 280 Croatian citizens in EU institutions. This number refers exclusively to the employment following the national criteria, which means that Croatian citizens, upon the accession, may participate in all competitions for the employment that are open for other EU citizens to whom a nationality criterion limitation is not applied. The newly introduced testing system has shortened the selection process from fifteen months to five to nine months. After a pre-selection test, candidates are invited to the candidate evaluation centre where all the remaining testing will be carried out in one day – a written exam, presentation of a theme, a group task and other tests appropriate for particular post.

Find out more on: www.eu-careers.eu

 

Will the borders between Croatia and the neighbouring member states be abolished when Croatia joins the Union?

Checks at common borders with the EU member states will not be abolished automatically on the date of Croatia´s accession to the European Union. The customs between member states will be abolished. Border checks will remain until Croatia´s accession to the Schengen Agreement. Based on experience of some new members, this could take up to a few years.

In order to join the Schengen Area, a country must meet the following preconditions: take responsibility for control of EU´s outer borders on behalf of all Schengen countries; enforce common Schengen rules, for example, checks on land, sea and airports, issuing visas, police cooperation and personal data protection; be capable for efficient cooperation with law enforcement agencies in other member states in order to maintain a high level of security in Schengen Area even after abolition of internal borders; adoption and use of Schengen Information System (SIS).

Schengen Agreement was signed in June 1985 by five member states – Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The Agreement envisages gradual abolition of internal border checks on land, sea and in airports as strengthening of checks at ´outer borders´, i.e. borders with non-EU countries. At the moment, Schengen Area incorporates 25 countries – 22 EU member states (all countries except Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and United Kingdom) plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

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