Thursday

19th Oct 2017

Croatians say Yes to EU accession

  • EU flag on display in Brussels at an event to celebrate the previous wave of enalrgement (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Croatians voted in favour of joining the European Union on Sunday (22 January) in a popular referendum that will see it become the 28th member state.

An estimated 42 percent of people voted making it among the lowest recorded turnouts in comparable EU accession referendums.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Of those who did show up to the polls, around 68 percent voted for the accession despite concerns over economic turmoil in Europe and ambivalence over a possible loss of sovereignty. Accession still needs to be ratified by the Croatian parliament and by all EU-27 parliaments before the country officially joins next year.

Centre-left Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic downplayed the poor turnout. “It would have been better that the turnout was larger, but that’s reality,” he said describing the referendum results as a turning point in the country’s history.

Anti-EU sentiment in the country flared up in April last year when two Croatian commanders - Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac - received lengthy jail terms by judges in The Hague. However, the BBC reports that Gotovina recently told his supporters to back Croatia’s bid to join the Union.

It is Croatia’s first referendum since 1991 when it proclaimed its independence from the former Yugoslavia. At the time, the decision to break away from its former masters later resulted in a four and a half year war that cost the lives of some 20,000 people.

Today the country is suffering from a 17 percent unemployment rate and an economy embattled by the same crisis affecting the rest of Europe. A recession has struck it hard with around €48 billion in foreign debt and a gross domestic product per capita that is 61 percent of the EU average. However, its GDP per capita last year was still higher than EU member states Bulgaria and Romania, according to the International Monetary Fund.

For their part, EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy and EU commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso released a joint statement saying EU membership will “help secure the stability and prosperity" of the nation. They described the result as good news for the whole of the Balkan regions.

“The upcoming accession of Croatia sends a clear signal to the whole region of south eastern Europe. It shows that through political courage and determined reforms, EU membership is within reach. Today’s positive vote is therefore good news for Croatia, good news for the region, and good news for Europe,” said the statement.

Croatia is the second former Yugoslav nation, after Slovenia, to join the Union. The EU’s border will now extend to Bosnia and Montenegro.

Opponents of accession fear Brussels will now rule the country and that the EU has changed because of the trouble surrounding the euro. EU supporters believe membership will prove more beneficial in the long term.

“Croatia will not lose its sovereignty or natural resources, nor will it be ruled by the EU,” President Ivo Josipovic said in a written statement.

Croatia: new EU member on the horizon

After six years of negotiations and amid an ongoing territorial dispute with Slovenia, Croatia will hold a referendum on Sunday to decide whether to become the 28th EU member state.

Miffed Croatian region fears unequal access to EU money

The EU has a large pot of money especially for regions. How to get hold of this money is a source of much negotiation in member states - as a poor region in upcoming EU member Croatia has found out.

EU okays Privacy Shield's first year

Commission gives 'thumbs-up' to controversial Privacy Shield deal with US on data sharing after a year's operation - but notes room for improvement.

Court hearing in MEPs 'private' expenses battle

The European parliament claims the media and public do not have a right to supervise or monitor the public role of MEPs, says Natasa Pirc Musar, a lawyer representing journalists, in a transparency battle against the assembly.

News in Brief

  1. EU summit moved to previous building after fumes scare
  2. Catalonia will 'not back down'
  3. New toxic incident in EU building ahead of summit
  4. Murdered Malta journalist's family invited to Parliament
  5. EU food safety chief denies keeping studies 'secret'
  6. EU states pledge 24,000 resettlement places so far
  7. US ready for arms sale to update Greece's F-16 fleet
  8. Austria's Green leaders step down following election failure

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  2. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  6. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  7. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  8. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  9. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  10. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  12. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year

Latest News

  1. EU okays Privacy Shield's first year
  2. EU seeks to decrypt messages in new anti-terror plan
  3. EU agencies defend research ahead of glyphosate vote
  4. Spain points at elections as exit to Catalan crisis
  5. How EU can ensure Daphne Caruana Galizia's legacy survives
  6. Juncker dinner to warm up relations with eastern EU
  7. Court hearing in MEPs 'private' expenses battle
  8. The unbearable lightness of leadership