Six years of Croatian EU membership



Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic arrives to take part in a European Union leaders summit, in Brussels, Belgium July 2, 2019. REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw
Piroschka Van De Wouw / REUTERS

Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic arrives to take part in a European Union leaders summit, in Brussels, Belgium July 2,

On 1 July 2019 Croatia marks the sixth anniversary of joining the EU. In the six years of its EU membership, Croatia has proven itself a member that promotes European values of freedom, democracy and security. By joining the EU, Croatia has strengthened its reputation, influence and visibility in the European, global and multilateral context, which will grow even stronger in 2020 when we are taking over the Council of the EU presidency and Rijeka is becoming the European Capital of Culture. 

By using the numerous advantages of EU membership, including the possibility of receiving EU grants, Croatia has achieved visible progress in various areas. We are improving internal transport connectivity as well as connectivity with other countries thanks to projects such as the Pelješac Bridge, the reconstruction of railway lines and roads and air and sea ports, as well as a number of other projects throughout the country.

Croatia has become part of a developed network of agreements on free trade which the EU has signed with third countries. The EU has 36 free trade agreements with third countries which cover 63 countries around the globe, and that has opened significant markets for our exporters. Furthermore, Croatian entrepreneurs have equal access to the European market, which has contributed to the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, boosted economic growth, created new jobs and reduced unemployment.

Utilizing EU programmes such as the Erasmus+ has enabled young people to gain education and experience in other member states, while projects financed by EU funds support economic progress, a more even development of all Croatian regions, and the preservation and development of agriculture

Participation in the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy has provided Croatia with the opportunity to realize its foreign policy priorities, thus achieving a greater international impact, visibility and recognisability. Croatia is now sitting at a table where decisions impacting the European continent as well as the whole world are made. It is particularly important for Croatia to make sure that the EU’s attention stays on Southeast Europe. Engagement in the EU’s neighbourhood is also crucial for us, as is a common response to global challenges such as migrations, terrorism and hybrid threats. Croatia is particularly engaged in and contributes to the strengthening Europe’s security-defence dimension by participating in EU missions and operations, supporting a tighter EU-NATO cooperation and participating in efforts to enhance Europe’s defence capabilities and cooperation.

Benefits also include investments in security, protection of external borders, consumer protection, digitalization, registration of agricultural products, environmental protection, energy efficiency and a number of other areas.

Ahead of Croatia lays the most complex international project since the gaining of independence – presiding over the Council of the EU. Thus in the first half of 2020, by organizing high-level meeting and chairing various working groups, Croatia will continue to work with other member states on issues facing the EU: Brexit, multiannual financial framework and current security challenges.

In regard to participating in other forms of internal EU integration, Croatia is continuing to work on joining the Schengen Area and the eurozone.