Croatia membership a win-win for Croatia, EU; but challenges ahead




Brussels, Belgium



Edited Package
Beauty shots of Croatia

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The 28th member state of the European Union is only the second member of the former Yugoslavia to join the EU. Croatia joins the EU on the first of July after a long and arduous road to membership, turning the page on its postwar years to look ahead to the future.

beauty shots

Chris standup in Zagreb

By taking in Croatia, the EU is reaching deep into the Balkans, where just 20 years ago a war was raging. With a combination of hard and soft power, the EU has maintained the peace in the last volatile region in Europe.

Croatian economy

A nation of 4 and a half million, Croatia is one of the wealthiest former Yugoslav republics and its largest trading partner is the EU. Membership is likely to further boost Croatia's economy.


Vesna Pusic, Croatian Foreign Minister

One of the objectives and underlying motive for Croatia's eagerness to join, and to go through the lengthy process that we've been through in the accession period is achieving political stability. And in many ways this also has a lot to do with economic success.

Setup Karamarko

Croatian opposition leader Tomislav Karamarko, a member of the EPP Group, says the EPP's support was crucial during the years of accession talks.


Tomislav Karamarko,
President, Crostian Democratic Union

The EPP is and always has been very significant for Croatia and very significant for the Croatian Democratic Union. We had very strong support during the entire duration of the accession negotiations with the European Union.

(Original in Croatian)

Accession talks, Croatia govt,
the Hague

Accession was highly complicated, thousands of pages of rules and regulations to conform to, requiring reform of the economy and the government. There were crackdowns on crime and corruption, and prosecution of suspected war criminals.

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A key player in the negotiations was the EPP Group's Davor Stier, former special representative for European and transatlantic relations. He remembers a critical moment in the talks.


Davor Stier, EPP Group

There was in particular one or two countries that were still reluctant to accept that and to conclude negotiations with Croatia. And here friends from the EPP told us how to approach these countries and also in some meetings they had a crucial role in getting the necessary consensus for that.

Croatia at war

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Hard to believe that 20 years ago Croatia was in the middle of Europe's worst conflict since World War II – the violent breakup of Yugoslavia.

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Adriana Kremenas-Danicic, now head of Europe Home Dubrovnik, remembers…


Adriana Kremenas-Danicic
Europski Dom Dubrovnik

There where we are, and that's the main street of Dubrovnik, is where the grenades always fell. And at that time we believed that the European integration process is the only solution for this part of Europe. Not only for Croatia, but for all neighbouring countries.

Dort wo wir jetzt sind, und das ist die Hauptstrasse von Dubrovnik, fielen immer noch die Granaten. Und damals haben wir geglaubt, das der europaeische Integrationsprozess ist die einzige Loesung fuer diesen Teil Europas darrstellt. Also nicht nur fuer Kroazien, sondern auch fuer alle anderen benachbarten Laender.

Restored Dubrovnik

That time seems so far away, with Dubrovnik painstakingly restored with the help of EU funding.

Chris standup in Dubrovnik

Croatia is also among the world's top tourist destinations. And no wonder: it has 5,800 km of coastline, most of it composed by islands.

Niko Bulic was tourism minister who helped change the postwar image of Croatia as an independent country.


Niko Bulic
Croatian National Tourism Board

Croatia as a name didn't exist. So the important thing was to brand old favourite destinations with new names that people in the world understand. When you say Dubrovnik, it is Croatia, when you say Dalmatia, it is a touristic region of Croatia. When you say Istria, it is Croatia.

Croatian economy

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Beyond tourism, European membership for Croatia provides stability as well as economic development. But European integration is still a work in progress and needs the support of all parties.


Tomislav Karamarko,
President, Crostian Democratic Union

Croatia still has a long way to go. We are all facing a difficult economic situation in Europe as well as in Croatia. Initially we took measures to adjust our economy to the European one. We now have to see what we can offer to the European Union how, and we also have to help ourselves. Definitely, the European Union is a great challenge for us. It is also a great opportunity, a great chance for our entrepreneurs to achieve much more then they could achieve in Croatia.

(Original in Croatian)

Croatian economy

So joining the EU is just part of a process of economic transition, still a long road ahead.


Vesna Pusic, Croatian Foreign Minister
Now times are harder, and in that sense there is a much greater awareness in Croatia, whether we will use the opportunities to Croatia's advantage. It depends almost entirely on our own capacity and on being able to pool the brains and skills that we do have, not necessarily in the public administration, but to pool them there and to put them to work.

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Croatia overcame the ravages of war, tackled a financial crisis and still managed to qualify for EU membership. That's because it's a win-win for both Croatia and the EU, which could help cement the peace in the Balcans.
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Croatia membership a win-win for Croatia, EU; but challenges ahead


20 years after its fight for independence, Croatia joins the EU on the first of July as the second former Yugoslav republic to join, after a process the EPP Group helped to facilitate. Both Croatia and EU stand to benefit, though Croatia's transition to a modern economy remains a work in transition.


Croatia, EU membership, accession, Brussels, former Yugoslavia, Karamarko, Pusic, Bulic, Stier,Kremenas-Danicic, European Parliament, EPP Group
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  • Ioannis Zografos
    EPP TV Managing Producer
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