Seven years ago Croatia became country member of the European Union thanks to a consensus between most important political options and the support of the citizens, after years of reform effort consecrated to strengthening the rule of law, tripartite rules, human rights and freedoms, Croatian EPM Picula reminded in the comment on the occasion of the seventh year of EU membership.
In the continuation we are brining the whole text of Picula’s evaluation of our membership in the EU.
However, European Union today is much more different than the Union in which Croatia entered seven years ago. Institutions and the politicians of the EU are trying to find answers to questions that were generated by the crises internal and external to the EU. Although, in order for the EU to transform more efficiently, changes are needed also from within the country members. Before we were confronted mainly with our own challenges, and today we are sharing the challenges with the whole European Union that is in a phase of searching for new solutions. But just as there was nothing routine in the process of the country's accession to the EU, these first years of membership have shown that there is no routine in the consumption of membership either.
Croatia is one of the smaller members in terms of territory (20th), size of population (21st), size of GDP (21st) and especially in terms of GDP per capita (only 26th) and it should be clear to us that we need to think strategically about our position in the EU. Why Croatia in the EU? In addition to political, economic, historical and other reasons, the fact that there is almost no major city in Croatia that is more than fifty kilometers away from the state border speaks volumes. Croatia has a multiple regional affiliation that requires responsibility for conducting an integrated multidimensional foreign policy.
However, what Croatia needs today is an entirely new focus on the overall national policy. Especially the development policy. Croatia is still among the youngest members of the EU, but in comparison to others, it has been in deepest recession. Croatia is one of the countries with the highest percentage of the population over the age of 60 with a high percentage of workers working in precarious conditions! Our country also suffers from a high outflow of population, especially of those educated and enterprising, to other, more developed EU countries.
Besides certain proper accomplishments that the membership brought to us, Croatia has been evidencing for the past four years a greater legal uncertainty, violation of the principles of the rule of law, partycratic abuse of power and conflict of interest, attack on the freedom of the media and the collapse of democratic values.
These are problems that we must eliminate, because Croatia can and must do better. Despite all our shortcomings, I believe that, within the European Union and its values, we can shape the vision of a new Croatia and its more appropriate place in the European future.