Wednesday

22nd Feb 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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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.

Focus

Crowded race to win EU medicines agency

As cities line up to take over the European Medicines Agency some fear a kerfuffle that could destabilise the agency's work and slow down the pace of approving new medicines.

Focus

Crowded race to win EU medicines agency

As cities line up to take over the European Medicines Agency some fear a kerfuffle that could destabilise the agency's work and slow down the pace of approving new medicines.

News in Brief

  1. Romanian parliament buries controversial corruption decree
  2. Dozens drown off Libyan coast
  3. EU ministers approve anti-tax avoidance directive
  4. Poland rejects EU criticism of court changes
  5. German nationalist leader met with Putin allies in Moscow
  6. German housing market overheated, says Bundesbank
  7. France invites three EU leaders for Versailles summit in March
  8. Greece agrees on new bailout reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  2. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  3. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  4. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  5. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  7. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  9. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  10. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  11. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year
  12. Centre Maurits CoppietersThe Situation of Refugee Women in Europe